CAPE TOWN,South Africa has teamed up with the French government to help support small start-up businesses for black techno-entrepreneurs.

Representatives of various government departments and the public sector have gathered at Century City in Cape Town for the official launch of the French-South Africa Tech Lab, one of 23 such facilities worldwide which assist small start-up businesses.

The Lab has been described as an incubator and accelerator that combines unique skills from South Africa with French excellence in engineering. It provides entrepreneurs with access to business coaching, networking opportunities and assistance with finding capital.

The aim is to focus on at least 6.0 per cent of black business owners from underprivileged backgrounds.

The French Ambassador to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud, said here Tuesday: “The incubator is precisely the place where he can come and find people who will help, even for very simple things like just a computer or some software.”

South African businessman and entrepreneur Nkululeko Mvulana says he has benefited from the initiative which started about two years ago.

Mvulana, the current chief executive officer of Sandulela Technology, says he saw a gap in the market and created a platform for people from other countries to send money home without using traditional business services.

Mvulana says his business was inspired by the more than four million Zimbabweans living in South Africa who need to send money home monthly. “Traditionally, they use the banking system which has become cumbersome. In Zimbabwe, there is a growing liquidity problem which prevents a lot of the money that’s being sent from reaching the people that it needs to,” he says.

“So, our solution is really just disruptive technology that enables the same Zimbabweans that are sending money home to buy product in South Africa. They can access the platform via mobile; they can access it online.”

The French-South Africa Tech Lab has the support of the South African government. Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says: “What we see here is something we would like to see duplicated in other areas, not forgetting obviously the rural areas and townships.”

The initiative has been widely welcomed for opening up a world of endless possibilities for South Africa’s technological industry.


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