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Incubation, or small enterprise development acceleration, is proven to increase the potential for long-term SMME sustainability and success. In South Africa, approximately 80% of SMMEs fail within their first year – a statistic the Seda Technology Programme (STP) has managed to reverse among the SMMEs it assists through its national network of incubators.  Eighty percent of the small enterprises in the Seda Technology Programme incubators survive the first year of trading.

The STP specifically targets entrepreneurs who want to develop their businesses through innovation and technology. It provides access to financial, strategic, technological mentoring, coaching and technical expertise as well as management support while addressing the technology needs of enterprises operating in the science, engineering, metals, construction, manufacturing, ICT, mining and agricultural sectors, and those involved in development and technology transfer projects.

One of its core focus areas is technology business incubation, which revolves around empowering SMMEs to use technology to improve the competitiveness of their businesses. The programme currently funds and works directly with 30 incubators across the country, ranging from ICT SMMEs to enterprises in the aluminium, platinum and even bio-diesel industries.

Not only do these incubators provide necessary business infrastructure and strategic guidance, but also an environment of learning and sharing in which information, experiences and ideas are freely exchanged. This builds entrepreneurs’ skills and knowledge bases, better preparing them for business in the open market, with a view to increasing profitability and growth.

“I really believe the STP’s interventions lower the barriers to entrepreneurship and are part of the solution to local economic development and unemployment. In the past financial year, the STP created 6 778 direct, indirect and casual jobs; increased its support to 656 SMMEs; and assisted in increasing the turnover of the SMMEs it supports from R129-million in the previous year to R169-million in the past financial year,” says Jayesh Ravjee, STP acting executive manager.

One of the STP’s incubatees that are supported is the Gauteng-based Softstart BTI technology and business incubator, which promotes entrepreneurial development in the ICT sector. The incubator specifically focuses on young IT graduates and professionals and previously disadvantaged groups, empowering them through appropriate skills development to pursue ICT-oriented entrepreneurial opportunities.

“Incubation is incredibly important to ICT entrepreneurs, particularly those in the early stages of their business development. We are proud to say that our incubator is a level 2 contributor with a 125% B-BBEE recognition level and a Value Adding Enterprise,” says Leonie Greyling, Softstart BTI CEO. “We look forward to hosting more opportunity-driven entrepreneurs with a passion for ICT in the future.”

In addition to incubation, the STP also focuses on quality management, ensuring SMMEs have access to quality control, and technology transfers, which makes new technology available to incubators across the country.

The STP was established in 2006 by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), through the merger of Godisa Trust and the National Technology Transfer Centre (NTTC), as part of government’s national strategy to consolidate small enterprises support interventions across the various government departments and agencies. It is housed within the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), which is mandated by the dti to develop and support small enterprises in South Africa, ensuring their growth and sustainability. 

Incubator Sector Province Description of Centre
Chemin Chemicals Industry Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape Chemin is a technology incubator specialising in supporting the start-up and growth of SMEs in the downstream chemical industry. Chemin is located in Port Elizabeth but operates nationally.
DACT-Downstream Aluminium Centrefor Technology Aluminium products processing Richards Bay, Kwazulu-Natal The Downstream Aluminium Centre of Technology is located in Richards Bay, focusing on training, skills development and incubation of potential entrepreneurs and small enterprises in the aluminium casting industry.
eGoli BIO - Life sciences incubator Bio and Life Sciences Pretoria, Gauteng EgoliBio is a not-for-profit business incubator, created for the purpose of nurturing entrepreneurial life-sciences and bio-technology companies, helping them to survive and grow during the start-up phase, when they are most vulnerable. The incubator serves as a development conduit for the commercialization of bio-sciences research, products, services and technology platforms. It offers biotechnology entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to commercialize their products or services within a business incubator.
FurnTech-Advanced Furniture Technologies Furniture Industry Branches: Cape Town, White River, Durban, Umzimkhulu, Johannesburg, George, Mmthatha The Furniture Sector, Technology Incubator, Furntech, with seven branches located across South Africa, has its headquarters in Cape Town, and focuses on the provision of training, skills development, and business incubation support to potential entrepreneurs and small enterprises involved in furniture manufacturing. Furntech is an accredited training Service provider for the furniture industry, and provides training to over 600 people each year.
Lepharo-The Foundation Stones of Knowledge Copper,Zinc,and Brass metal processing Johannesburg,Gauteng Seda Ekurhuleni Base Metals Incubator trading as Lepharo was established as a joint initiative between stp, the Ekurhuleni Municipality, Gauteng Enterprises Propeller and Impala Platinum (Kumba Resources), to provide an environment for the training and development of entrepreneurs and small enterprises in the casting of zinc, copper and brass. The centre not only provides training, mentoring, and coaching for the entrepreneurs, but also a variety of other business development support
MMI-Maphura-Makhura Incubator Bio-Fuels-plant production and processing Marble Hall,Limpopo The Seda Maphura-Makhura Incubator (SMMI) is a Limpopo - based Training and Technology Demonstration Incubator (TDI), which trains local farmers in planting of sunflower and Soya beans for the production of Biodiesel.
MSI-Mpumalanga Stainless Steel Initiative Stainless Steel processing Middleburg,Mpumalanga The Mpumalanga Stainless Steel Initiative, MSI, located in Middelburg, in the Mpumalanga Province, provides entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to enter the stainless steel industry. This centre embraces the environment where new and emerging enterprises are able to set-up business, and with professional support and development, become sustainable in the long term.
SATEC-Seda Automotive Technology Centre Automobile technology Rosslyn,Pretoria,Gauteng Seda Automotive Technology Centre, SATEC, a Section 21 company based in Rosslyn, Pretoria is a technology incubation centre focusing on the development of start-up's whose ultimate objective is to develop technology influenced products or services for the automotive industry. Through its partnership with the Tshwane University of Technology and the CSIR, the centre provides technical as well as business development support services to entrepreneurs and small enterprises.
SEOBI-Seda Essential Oil Business Incubator Essential Oils-plant cultivation and oil distribution Pretoria,Gauteng The Seda Essential Oils Business Incubator, SEOBI, a Section 21 company, focuses on empowering emerging farmers to produce and in some instances, process high value essential oils. The incubator focuses on transferring appropriate technologies to emerging farmers in order to facilitate starting or increasing commercially viable essential oil production.
SLJI-Seda Limpopo Jewellery Incubator Gold and precious metals beneficiation Polokwane,Limpopo Soshanguve The Seda Limpopo Jewellery Incubator(SLJI)is a Small Enterprise Development Agency(Seda)funded initiative to develop entrepreneurial jewellers in the Limpopo province.
SESUCI Sugar cane-plant cultivation and sales Nelspruit,Mpumalanga The incubator is located in Eastern Mpumalanga and its mission is to develop internationally competitive previously disadvantaged entrepreneurs in the South African sugar cane industry through the process of agricultural business incubation
SMTDC-Soshanguve Manufacturing Technology Demonstration Centre Low-cost small scale manufacturing Pretoria, Gauteng The Soshanguve Manufacturing Technology Demonstration Centre (SMTDC) is located in Soshanguve, Pretoria. The purpose of the Centre is to demonstrate (small scale) manufacturing machinery and equipment, to train entrepreneurs to operate and maintain the technologies and to establish new small scale manufacturing and services ventures. Their vision is to accelerate the establishment and development of low-cost, small manufacturing enterprises that will contribute to the economic growth of South Africa.
ZenZele Small Scale Mining Randburg,Gauteng, (although the sites are locatedthroughout South Africa) The Zenzele Technology Demonstration Centre is based at the Mintek Campus in Randburg (Gauteng). The centre provides technical and research support to small scale mining and mineral-related enterprises, with the aim of nurturing accelerated growth, skills development, job creation and assisting enterprises to successfully compete in their markets. Zenzele provides a range of services to small scale miners across South Africa, and has a satellite office in the Northern Cape Province, from which it supports various community development projects.
SPI-Seda Platinum Incubator Initially Platinum Jewellery Rustenburg,North West Seda Platinum Incubator, SPI, a platinum beneficiation and jewellery training and manufacturing incubator based in Rustenburg, aims to create an internationally recognised centre of platinum beneficiation excellence and is dedicated to the advancement of skills in the beneficiation of Platinum Group Metals.
SCI Construction building and civil Durban,Kwazulu Natal,Mthatha Umzimyathi and Port Elizabeth The Seda Construction Incubator, SCI, in Durban, and has been created to provide business support services, office infrastructure and other resources to eligible business in the construction sector. It stems from an identified lack of capacity presented with abundant opportunities and demand for services in this particular sector. The centre focuses specifically on the development of small contracting firms classified under the Construction Industries Development Board (CIDB) as grade 3, and provides them with the necessary support to grow their business to grade 4and 5 within a designated period of time
MASDT Mpumalanga Agri Skills Development and Training Agricultural Capacity Building The Mpumalanga Agri Skills Incubator was established to promote sustainable agricultural empowerment, development and entrepreneurship of primarily previously disadvantage individual and communities in Mpumalanga and possibly throughout the entire country. The main objective of MASDT is to create sustainable small agricultural enterprises and lower the risk of financiers, thereby making funding more accessible to small scale farmers.
Timbali Floriculture Nelspruit,Mpumalanga Timbali was initiated to create a centre for the establishment and support of emerging farmers in the cut flower industry. Currently, Timbali clients are cultivating a variety of cut flowers. One of the crops, the famous Gerbera, was chosen for its unique adaptability to the region and its high value on the market. The growers at Timbali possibly represent the largest Gerbera cut-flower project in Africa and it is estimated that over a 2 million flowers are produced annually. Other cut flowers grown include the difficult to grow Lisianthus, heavenly scented stocks, as well as the old time favourites Snaps, Delphinium and Sweet Williams and a variety of agricultural crops and products. The Cluster development can also be described as one of the larger hydroponic production units in the country and represents a major development in floriculture in South Africa.
                                                      OTHER  INCUBATORS
Seda Agricultural & Mining Tooling Incubator (SAMTI) Mining and Agricultural tooling Bloemfontein, Free State  
Seda DUT Technology Incubator (SDTI) Mixed use High-Tech Durban, KwaZulu-Natal  

ISSUED BY                     The Small Enterprise Development Agency
MEDIA CONTACT             Lindokuhle Nkomonde – Manager: Corporate Communications and Media Relations
TEL                              012 441 1210
DATE                            Thursday, 11th November 2010