‘It Takes A Village’ – A Look At Big Brands That Are Investing In Young Entrepreneurs

Updated on 12 June 2017

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'It Takes A Village' - A Look At Big Brands That Are Investing In Young Entrepreneurs


All month long SME South Africa will highlight young entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers who are shaping the future, as part of our #YouthMonth2017 coverage. Follow #YouthAmplified on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.

To help solve the country’s challenges like the high unemployment rate and an uninspiring economy, the role of the private sector cannot be underestimated.

There are companies that are playing their part and investing their big budgets and time in helping to advance entrepreneurship in the country by providing much-needed support to promising young entrepreneurs.

Various companies are injecting millions into the local entrepreneurship ecosystem, each focusing on specific challenges and sectors. Old Mutual supports high-impact township-based entrepreneurs like ‘energy farmer’ Thabang Mabapa who produces an alternative biofuel; the Red Bull Amphiko Academy focuses on social entrepreneurs like science wizz Bathabile Mpofu, who developed a mini science kit for high school learners, and Standard Bank launched a highly coveted accelerator programme. Global brands like Facebook and Levi’s are also playing their part and are reaching out to young entrepreneurs through their hosting of influencer-led seminars and workshops.

To find out which companies are playing their part, here are 7 Big Brands that are doing the most in investing in young entrepreneurs and startups.


The Company: Levi’s is one of the world’s leading fashion brands.

How they support entrepreneurship: Levi’s Pioneer Nation is a two-day festival that started in 2014, and aims to inspire, connect and allow up-and-coming entrepreneurs to learn from some of the industry’s hotshots.

The festival consists of an interactive programme that brings together 40 of today’s hottest young South African entrepreneurs to give TEDx-style 15-minute presentations with interactive Q&A follow-ups. The event also includes business building workshops, speed-mentoring, the Pioneer Opportunity Fair exhibit space and lots of networking opportunities.

How To Apply: Entrepreneurs interested in attending the festival should visit the Levi’s Pioneer Nation website for further details.


The Company: The energy drink company has also become one of the leading media companies in the world.

How they support entrepreneurship:  The Red Bull Amaphiko Academy – is a launch pad for grassroots social entrepreneurs who are making a positive difference in their communities. It was launched in South Africa in 2014 and is also operating in Brazil and in the US. The academy hopes to give entrepreneurs mentorship, practical skills and the tools they need to grow their businesses.

Participants take part in a 10-day residential program where they get to connect and collaborate with leading innovators, entrepreneurs and storytellers from around the world. The socio-preneurs then receive one-on-one mentorship to develop a business, personal and strategic development plan that they will bring to life over the following 18 months.

How To Apply: Social entrepreneurs can find out more about how to become part of the Academy through their website The Red Bull Amaphiko Academy.


The Company: Rand Merchant Investment Holdings, (RMI Holdings) is a JSE-listed financial services investment group.

How they support entrepreneurship:  AlphaCode – The initiative, launched in January 2016, was set up by the founders of RMI to identify, partner and grow disruptive, sustainable and scalable fintech businesses that will change the landscape of the financial services industry.

AlphaCode offers services such as facilitated networking, informal mentorship as well as co-working office space.

How To Apply: The accelerator is looking for techpreneurs who can be part of their initiative in various membership tiers, Green Membership, Gold MembershipPlatinum and Diamond.


The Company: With around 1.94 billion users, Facebook is the world’s largest social network, founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004.

How they support entrepreneurshipYouth Enterprise Day South Africa​ – Facebook is partnering with the Department of Small Business Development and Livity Africa to host Youth Enterprise Day, a one-day summit that aims to celebrate and catalyse youth entrepreneurship in South Africa.

The summit will feature a line-up of inspirational talks from some of South Africa’s most successful youth-run businesses. Speakers include Rina Chunga of Rich Factory; Abed Tau of Tuta-Me and Nothando Moleketi of ReWare, followed by a series of workshops hosted by Facebook and Livity Africa that will give young entrepreneurs a crash course on how to use Facebook, Instagram and other digital tools to grow their businesses.


The Company: Standard Bank is a financial services organisation. They operate in 20 countries on the African continent, including South Africa, as well as in other selected emerging markets.

How they support entrepreneurship: The Standard Bank Incubator was launched in 2015 with the aim of speeding up the growth of startups and early stage companies.

Located in Rosebank, the incubator offers a free co-working space, providing entrepreneurs with mentoring, coaching, and access to training in enterprise development and content delivery for corporates. The incubator offers engagement and networking opportunities as well as thought leadership sessions. Startups also participate in a demo day – a platform for startups to present to active investors and potential clients. Standard Bank also assists incubated entrepreneurs with access to funding.

How To Apply: Entrepreneurs can apply via their website Standard Bank BizConnect or SW7.


The Company: Old Mutual is a global investment, savings, insurance, and banking group founded in 1845.

How they support entrepreneurship: Infinitum Initiative – is a two-year incubation programme, launched early this year that aims to boost transformation in the financial services sector by equipping qualified black financial advisers with essential skills to start and build their own sustainable, financial planning businesses.

According to the program’s website, training includes classroom learning, practical on-the-job application and one-on-one coaching as well as mentoring from some of the industry’s advisers and ongoing assessments.

How To Apply: To apply, interested candidates can get in touch with Masthead for further details.

The Masisizane Fund – Started in 2007, the fund was set up as a non-profit funding company with the aim of providing financing and support to SMMEs.

The Fund is aimed at entrepreneurs in the productive sectors such as agri-businesses, franchising and commercial, supply chain and manufacturing sectors that have high employment potential. It offers these entrepreneurs both financial and non-financial support which include financial education, capacity development and mentoring support.

How To Apply: To find out more about the application process and how to apply, see The Masisizane Fund

See also: Facebook To Host Youth Enterprise Day To Celebrate SA’s Young Digipreneurs


The Company: Allan Gray is Africa’s largest privately owned investment management company.

How they support entrepreneurship:  Allan Gray Orbis Foundation – Launched in 2006, the foundation offers young students full financial support towards their secondary or tertiary studies at selected schools or universities, according to the foundation’s website.

The candidates are also given mentorship by leading entrepreneurs throughout their fellowship.

How to apply: You are able to apply for both the Scholarship and Fellowship on their website Allan Gray Orbis Foundation.

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