Search under way for young entrepreneurs with sustainable business ideas

18th September 2015 By: Sashnee Moodley - Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

South African Breweries (SAB) last month started the pitch segment of its KickStart Ignite entrepreneurship programme, which aims to amplify and strengthen the ‘maker movement’ in South Africa by enabling young entrepreneurs to prototype and commercialise their ideas.

SAB aims to help youth – between the ages of 18 and 35 – create sustainable enterprises that shift the paradigm from consumers to the makers of innovative products, services and industries.

The programme hopes to attract commercially viable ideas or products that are aligned to the manufacturing or the information and communication technology sectors, and which use three- dimensional printing, leather, wood, metal, laser and vinyl cutting, software design programmes and electronics, including the development of the Internet of Things technology using platforms such as Arduino and Raspberri Pi.

Pitches for the programme started last month in Durban, at the MakerSpace – a community resource that aims to develop a community of makers by attracting engineers, designers, architects and tinkerers to a creative playground equipped with low-volume manufacturing technology.

More than 40 aspiring entrepreneurs attended the pitch session, where eligible participants each had two minutes to showcase their concept to a panel of industry experts. Twenty of the best ideas were selected for a one-day bootcamp for further development.

Six entrepreneurs were eventually selected as the KwaZulu-Natal winners. They will participate in a six-month business incubation, during which they will prototype their ideas and launch their start-ups.

A pitch session took place at the Tshwane University of Technology’s Pretoria West campus last week.

Further sessions will take place this week at the Central University of Technology, in Bloemfontein, and at the University of Limpopo’s Turfloop campus on October 2.

The bootcamp sessions provide an opportunity for participants to learn the foundations of entrepreneurship and experience the creative ideation process through conceptualising and pitching their business concepts with the support of experienced entrepreneurs and facilitators.

SAB youth business enterprise development specialist Simphiwe Mntambo tells Engineering News that participants will develop through technical and business mentorship, peer learning, networking and using advanced technology infrastructure, with the design of the bootcamp creatively combining entrepreneurship and innovation elements to attain that goal.

Product and start-up launches will take place in 2016 for all 158 regional winners.

The final six winners will be chosen nationally and will receive grant funding.

SAB KickStart Ignite aims to act as a pipeline for the SAB KickStart Boost programme, which supports the best businesses and products from Ignite and will be granted extensive support for commercialising their products.

“Enterprise development is a key sustainable development priority for SAB. It is one of the underlying imperatives of SAB Prosper, the company’s global sustainable development framework, which aims to build strong local communities. Within this imperative, SAB aims to support small enterprises to increase job creation in South Africa,” says Mntambo.