Minister Zulu Officially Opens the EWC Centre for Entrepreneurship Rapid Youth Incubator (CfERI).

14 June 2018

Minister Lindiwe Zulu of Small Business Development officially launched the Centre for Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator in Katlehong township at the Kathorus Campus of Ekurhuleni West TVET College on Thursday, 14 June 2018.

Young entrepreneurs and small business owners from Katlehong and surrounding communities will now have access to infrastructure, networking and mentoring through the newly launched Centre. The centre seeks to assist up and coming entrepreneurs to overcome barriers identified in their entrepreneurial journey as well as reduce youth unemployment.

"Through this centre, we seek to provide students and participants with the theoretical knowledge and entrepreneurial skills that will enable them to start and run successful enterprises," said Minister Zulu.

In her opening speech, Ms Hellen Ntlatleng, Principal of EWC, said that the success and growth of the incubation programme lay in the difference and the impact it would make in the lives of potential entrepreneurs. She furthermore reminded the audience, in particular the youth and young entrepreneurs, that government does not create jobs but puts up "enablers" to that effect. "The establishment of the CfERI is one of the contribution vision 2030, as outlined in the National Development Plan," said Ms Ntlatleng. She emphasised the fact that the EWC enterprise hub is a source of hope for the people, and a tool to fight unemployment, poverty and inequality, which is a serious problem in this country.

"This launch is another milestone in our collective efforts to create a nation of entrepreneurs. This is, indeed, a significant milestone towards meeting the objective of pushing back the frontiers of poverty and unemployment in our country," said Minister Zulu.

The centre is a joint partnership between the Small Business Development Department, through Seda, and the Ekurhuleni West Centre TVET College. The centre is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment, an ideas lab and a Maker Space, and is aimed at providing support to youth owned enterprises, who often have little to no capital or funding.

"The model that we launch today has some unique support instruments, like idea pitching and polishing, and a dedicated seed fund for viable ideas or business models with sound market traction," said Minister Zulu.

While the Rapid Incubator will focus on the college, it will also service all sectors and small businesses in the Katlehong catchment area to unearth new ideas and assist business ventures run and owned by the youth. The Rapid Incubator is a bid by government to curb the high failure rate of small businesses. Incubators are seen by government as a powerful tool for supporting both SMME growth, and a variety of socio-economic needs, such as job creation, technology transfer, reviving economic activities at local and regional level, poverty alleviation and economic integration of previously disadvantaged groups.

The executive Mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni congratulated the college for investing its own money in making sure that the conditions of the lives of the people are improved. He further indicated that the city will be looking at mechanisms in which they can interact and partner with the centre, so that the centre's ideals may not perish.

Ms Ruth Bhengu, The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development, during a sitting in Parliament, welcomed the launch of the CfERI and indicated that they strongly believed that incubators of this kind could contribute meaningfully in curbing the mortality rate of SMMEs and cooperatives.

The centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation is an instrument to promote and inculcate entrepreneurship culture as well as promoting emerging entrepreneurs which will eventually lead to reduction of unemployment amongst youth.

The college built the Centre to the value of R14m. the dti, and Department of Small Business Development collectively contributed R5,4m. SEDA, an agency of the Department of Small Business Development was responsible for the design and set-up of both the Innovation Space and MakerSpace, which are situated in the facility. Moreover, SEDA is responsible for continuous support in terms of monitoring and evaluation of the Centre. The Department of Small Business Development covers the operational costs of the Centre, e.g. staff salaries, programme costs, development of entrepreneurs, etc.

Minister Zulu was flanked by the City of Ekurhuleni Mayor, Mzwandile Masina; Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) CEO, Mandisa Tshikwatamba, and the Ekurhuleni West Centre TVET College Principal, Manakedi Ntlatleng, as she cut the ribbon and opened the doors to the centre for the first time.

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