Top African tech incubator now recruiting in SA 

Updated on 23 March 2016

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Today's top entrepreneurship and business stories (23 March)

The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is accepting applications from Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, and for the first time South Africa.

Their fully sponsored twelve month programme trains entrepreneurs  on the basics of building successful tech businesses, focusing on computer programming, software development, product management, finance, marketing, sales and leadership best practices.

The entrepreneurs will spend a year at MEST in Accra and take part in the intensive training program, following which they can launch their own software companies. MEST also facilitates seed investment opportunities. Applications close June 1, 2016.

Admitted applicants also receive a full scholarship to a one-year entrepreneurial entrepreneurial training programme that blends an MBA-type education with hands-on training in software development.

During the programme, students form teams, develop a product, write business plans, and craft their investor pitches. The strongest and most promising concepts receive between $50,000 to $250,000 USD in equity investment, to support the launch of these new businesses. (Techcabal)

SMEs encouraged to focus on customer service in light of challenging economy

As consumers and businesses are urged to tighten their belts in light of slowed economic growth, customer service experience is set to become an increasingly important differentiator for local businesses, and one of the main factors that will influence decisions regarding which supplier to purchase products and services from.

This is according to Fatima Sullivan, vice president of customer services for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), who says that research shows consumers are willing to spend more for better customer service and with those companies that they believe provide excellent customer service.

“In an environment where alternatives are rife, customer experience is rapidly becoming one of the most important elements of a business’ success. While price will always be important in the mind of the consumer, this becomes less so if a business offers first class customer service to support the product or service.”

Findings from the Economist Intelligence Unit: Creating a seamless customer experience report revealed that almost 75% of consumers will stop doing business with a company following bad customer service and that more than half will complain to friends and family about their experience.

Sullivan says: “These figures highlight the detrimental impact of poor customer service in terms of revenue loss and reputation, and why customer service needs be a key focus area for a company.”

Airbnb launches in Cuba 

Airbnb, the community-driven hospitality company, announced it will offer accommodations in Cuba to travellers from around the world beginning April 2.

As part of the Obama administration’s efforts to improve relations with Cuba and less than a year after it first opened doors to licensed US-travellers only, Airbnb has been granted special authorization by the U.S. Department of Treasury to allow the company to provide accommodations in Cuba to non-US travellers. This will now give everyone the opportunity to experience the real Cuba through the neighbourhoods and homes of local Airbnb hosts.

Airbnb was built on our belief that you can belong anywhere. We invite people to visit neighborhoods, meet new people, make new friends, and experience new places like a local,” said Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

“In less than a year, this has proven true in Cuba with more than 13,000 guests from each of the 50 US states. Now, we will be able to offer the same belonging to travellers from any country, while doing our part to preserve what makes Cuba so special and unique.”

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