Support: How to Join Riversands Incubation Hub

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Fetola – Business Growth Professionals

Riversands Incubation Hub is a large-scale business incubator established in 2015 through an infrastructure investment partnership between Century Property Developments and National Treasury’s The Jobs Fund.

The hub, located north of Fourways, Johannesburg, is currently home to over 160 small businesses, with many more entrepreneurs supported through business development programmes and support services.

Jenny Retief, CEO of Riversands Incubation Hub, talks about the benefits of becoming a hub member and the kind of entrepreneur they are looking to back. 

What kinds of businesses/sector does your Riversands Incubation Hub target?

Riversands Incubation Hub targets high-potential businesses with viable business models and a potential to grow. Preference is given to businesses which are likely to create economic opportunity in the surrounding area and entrepreneurs who demonstrate commitment to their businesses. The units at Riversands Incubation Hub are suitable for light manufacturing, storage, distribution or offices. Premises are not suitable for retail outlets or heavy manufacturing.

What kind of entrepreneur are you looking to support?

Riversands Incubation Hub is looking for smart, committed entrepreneurs who have what it takes, but want to get there faster.

Preference is given to early-stage businesses which will benefit from premises to unlock the next stage of growth.

What are some of the resources that they have access to as part of your programme?

Entrepreneurs benefit from:

  • a professional address at a price and terms designed for early-stage businesses. Units include small furnished business suites through to 50m² mini factories and 200m² factory spaces;
  • a vibrant community of entrepreneurs sharing feedback, insights and connections. [They can]  participate in networking sessions, special guest lectures and have access to experienced mentors;
  • take advantage of Growth & Learning which offers a rich mix of guest lectures, workshops and practical training designed to help entrepreneurs build vital business management expertise;
  • support services such as financial compliance and accounts reduce some of the headaches involved with running a small business.

Businesses based at Riversands Incubation Hub take advantage of an enabling, entrepreneurial environment where support is provided in these broad categories:

  • Marketing and sales to assist in bringing products and services to market with a sleek image;
  • Systems and operations to streamline the efficient delivery of products and services;
  • Leadership and strategy, defining the vision and direction of the business and validating the business model.

Businesses benefit from a professional address in, for example, obtaining a HACCP certificate for food production or SANAS accreditation in the case of a calibrations laboratory. Premises unlock value for businesses.

The other services are tailored for each individual business; Riversands Incubation Hub’s philosophy recognises that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for early-stage businesses.

What costs are involved for the entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs pay subsidised rental for premises with flexible lease terms as well as pre-paid electricity and individually metered water; there are pre-arranged subsidised co-payments for services such as photography.

Corporate sponsorship covers the majority of the support provided.

What can the entrepreneur expect to gain from the programme?

Businesses viability, potential for growth and the entrepreneur’s capacity to execute on the stated vision are key factors. The subsidised premises are the base service, giving businesses a secure operating basis and membership of the vibrant entrepreneur community.

Both aspects have proved a great unlocker both practically and emotionally in the sometimes lonely journey of entrepreneurship.

Any case studies/testimonies you would like to share with our readers?

Building a professional, sustainable business has required determination and persistence from entrepreneur Seola Mashamaite, who established the only black woman-owned ISO 17025 SANAS-accredited calibration laboratory in SA – Montech Calibrations Services – in 2014.

When first taking premises at Riversands Incubation Hub in 2016, the formal address provided the platform for the accreditation and enabled this entrepreneur to land progressively bigger contracts. These assignments haven’t been without challenges! And in the five years of operations, overcoming obstacles has become part of Mashamaite’s DNA – but she hasn’t allowed the headwinds to derail her vision of becoming a serious player in the calibrations industry.

This year, Mashamaite was commissioned by the United Nations Development Fund (UNIDO) to participate in the roll-out of its project to install national calibration laboratories in the SADC region to boost capacity in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. She also trained personnel in this highly technical field.

Growth in the business has come from two sources: increase in both the number of clients and the frequency of services delivered.

Further growth in the business will come from an extension of services to include electrical and pressure metrology; Mashamaite is in the process of writing the relevant exams and gathering the necessary resources for this expansion.

The future is bright for this hard-working, determined entrepreneur who has taken advantage of some of the services offered by Riversands Incubation Hub while being an excellent example of a self-sufficient, committed businesswoman.

What is the best way to approach your organisation (email, walk in etc)?

The best way to reach Riversands Incubation Hub is via www.riversandsihub.co.za . There’s a comprehensive application process designed to provide all the necessary information.

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Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo is the editor of SME South Africa. She enjoys keeping up with the country’s exciting and fast developing entrepreneurship ecosystem. You can find her at @lelele3