Corporates That Played a Role To Better SA’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in 2018 #BestofSMESA2018

Updated on 14 December 2018

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Launched earlier this year, the Airbnb Africa Academy’s training focuses on hospitality and technology for emerging entrepreneurs, organisations and individuals from township and rural areas across the Western Cape and Gauteng.

The role of the private sector in advancing the local entrepreneurship ecosystem cannot be underestimated.

This year we saw a number of corporates launch programmes to empower entrepreneurs with skills training and financial assistance. We have also had some corporates champion the ecosystem by collaborating with startups in an effort to diversity their value chains and support SMEs.

Here are a list of corporate initiatives launched this year:



Google, the American multinational technology company that specialises in Internet-related services and products,
announced earlier this year that it’s investing USD $2 million in South African non-profits and social enterprises with the first Google Impact Challenge.

The four non-profits in South Africa that won $250 000 each for the Google Impact Challenge were Corruption Watch: BUA MZANSI, RLabs (Zlto Digital Platform), Gradesmatch and Memeza Shout Crime Prevention. Eight others were runners-up and each won $125,000.

The organisations that entered the challenge were invited to use technology and innovation to create economic opportunity in their communities to step forward with their most innovative ideas.

Volvo Cars

Volvo Cars launched its new investment fund, the Volvo Tech Fund which is specifically aimed at high-potential technology startups across the globe.

The fund will invest in strategic technology trends that are transforming the industry, which includes artificial intelligence, electrification, autonomous driving, and digital mobility services. Read more here

New Seasons Investment Holdings and Nodus Equity

Following the merger of two private equity fund companies – New Seasons Investment Holdings and Nodus Equity, the New Seasons Investment Fund (“the Fund”), a majority black controlled private equity fund, launched.

The Fund will focus on empowering medium-sized enterprises across various sectors in South Africa and in the first instance, manage private equity investments in excess of R1 billion. It is managed by New Seasons Investment Management. Read more here



As part of the Eskom Development Foundation’s role to boost small businesses, the Business Investment Competition (BIC) launched in May this year in Johannesburg. The competition aims to give small businesses from all provinces the opportunity to win their share of R1,3 million worth of prizes, which they can use to elevate and grow their operations.

Businesses in the sectors manufacturing, agriculture/agri-processing, engineering/construction and trade/services, can enter the competition.

Enterprise Supplier Development

Sernick Group

The Jobs Fund and Sernick Group have partnered with the Sernick Emerging Farmers Programme to implement a R502.6m project in the Free State, which will benefit 660 emerging black farmers.

The farmers will be recruited, trained, capacitated and provided with supply opportunities through integration in Sernick’s value chain.

The Truworths Fashion Incubation Programme  is designed to help aspiring- or existing fashion entrepreneurs take their business to the next level.

Support and training


Airbnb in partnership partnered with Open Africa and the Social Enterprise Academy to create the Airbnb Africa Academy, an initiative to encourage healthy tourism and entrepreneurship in rural and under-resourced communities across the continent.

Its first training two-day sessions took place in Johannesburg on July 31 and August 1, and in Cape Town on August 3-4 2018. The training focused on hospitality and technology for emerging entrepreneurs, organisations and individuals from township and rural areas across the Western Cape and Gauteng.

The programme is targeted at aspiring hosts or entrepreneurs interested in travel and hospitality with a passion for utilising technology to economically and socially empower communities. Read more here


The Truworths Fashion Incubation Programme was launched in June in collaboration with the Startup Hatchery, a virtual business incubator and Truworths, one of South Africa’s leading fashion retailers.

The programme is designed to help aspiring- or existing fashion entrepreneurs take their business to the next level, by providing crucial tools and mentorship to foster promising fashion talent.

De Beers

De Beers’ Venetia Mine partnered with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to host empowerment workshops in the Limpopo province, in an aim to uplift local entrepreneurs in its annual Incubation Support Programme.

With the incubation support workshops hosted in Musina and Blouberg in Limpopo, 40 local enterprises benefitted. The NYDA’s role in this initiative is mentorship and facilitating skills development within the areas financial management, operations and business management. Read more here

Shell and Nedbank

Shell and Nedbank are platinum sponsors of the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF), a not-for-profit economic empowerment organisation for all African women and girls. AWIEF aims to bring together women entrepreneurs in a form of networking where they will be exposed to international markets, consequently benefiting from the social capital.

One of AWIEF’s initiatives this year was a business networking breakfast event that took place in Sandton, Johannesburg in August. Another event was a two day conference hosted in November in Cape Town.

TechnoServe and Allan Gray

The second Box Shop, an incubation hub launched earlier this year in Midrand. The funding of this Box Shop is from US-based non-profit TechnoServe, the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund and the Allan Gray’s Allan Gray Orbis Foundation.

The Box Shop is based on a franchise model, founded by TechnoServe, which is planning to open a chain of 10 Box Shops all over the country.

The first Box Shop launched in Vilakazi Street in Soweto launched in April 2016, after receiving startup funding from the Citigroup Foundation. Read more here

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