March 28, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Posted in AIN, Business Support, Economic Development, incubation, incubator, startup | Leave a comment
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SMART XCHANGE DURBAN thanks Robynne n Rajesh






FURNTECH thanks Iegshaan, Beryl & staff












Seda Construction Incubator MURAL - thanks Mthunzi





SKYLIFT - throw oot the anchor!!
SKYLIFT – throw oot the anchor!!







AIN Conference Durban 2010 Day 2 PM 18th March

March 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Business Support, Economic Development, incubation, incubator, startup, Tools | Leave a comment
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Our second session today focusing on Good Practices and Economies of Scale was moderated by Prof Norman Faull of the University of Cape Town and a SEDA board member.                


UPSCALING and REPLICATING INCUBATION session presenters Julie, Mthunzi, Cornelius & Michael


The speakers in this session included Mr. Michael Reddy, the CEO of Furntech Incubators HQ CapeTown RSA [7off],                

Furntech: Government, through its National Skills Development Strategy, identified training and skills development as significant drivers of international competitiveness and organisational development. In response to these requirements, the DTI funded the establishment and operationalisation of Furntech as a world-class service provider to South Africa’s wood products and furniture industries in the fields of incubation, training, technology transfer and technology demonstration.                

Michael made everyone pay attention by claiming first place in any incubation race! – Furntech are delighted to share their success with any visiting delegation, he tells us, because by the time we get up to his shoulders he and his team will be able to spurt ahead easily with new ideas and initiatives.   Furntech have replicated their incubator model 7 times now around South Africa and sure are having an impact internationally as well as domestically in the furniture supply sector.  TIC Nigeria       

Dr. Julie Momah, the Deputy Director of Technology, Technology Incubation Centres Nigeria, gave us an excellent overview of why Nigeria has invested for over 2 decades [first established 1988] in using incubation as a lever and building mechanism  for economic development.               

Nigeria [24 incubators] currently follows South Africa [40 incubators] in the number of technology centres in operation. So we have much to learn from their progress and future vision, particularly their well established stakeholder network. Stakeholder network         




TIC Kebbi

TIC Kebbi


Incubator model
Incubator model
 Mr.  Cornelius   Scheepers, the CEO of the Soshanguve   Manufacturing Technology Demonstration Centre [SMTDC] spoke to his subject ENTERPRISE INCUBATION Development Strategy, Twashane LED. RSA . 
Stemming from a Tri-nations working party collaboration[ Brazil / India / South Africa ], TDC’s are a winning concept adapted for African circumstance. This addresses broad-based black empowerment, BBE, new enterprise creation, increasing skills levels and GDP. It is replicable in various areas of South African economic development.

Finally Mthunzi Nyandeni the CEO of the Seda Construction Incubator, Durban RSA in South Africa.   SCI is the first incubator in the world targeting and supporting entrepreneurs within the Construction sector. Their business model includes clients paying SCI, a 1% share of contract sales turnover won, in return for entrepreneurial support, services and accommodation provided.            

Durban Stadium

World Cup Stadium completed Feb 2010


Crucially SCI now has a hub and 3 branches taking this incubator model to the RSA construction sector. Note To DAC Speaking to clients on our trip to SCI Durban tomorrow is a must – what is their experience of this process – How are they able to succeed in winning multi million rand contracts when elsewhere outside the incubator they remained individuals – brickies, painters, plumbers, scaffolders, carpenters  – on a survival existence?             

Session 3 today on Technology Incubation was to be moderated by Dr. Johannes Potgieter, the Chief Director of Innovation and Technology in the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa and we had:             

The CEO of eGoliBio, Pretoria, RSA, Mr. Sipho Moshoane. eGoliBio is a contender for NBIA Incubator of year, 2010 at the upcoming Convention in the USA.  Well done and good luck in the finals  Team  eGliBio!        

eGoliBio“Collaboration is the key” Sipho gave us a look under the bonnet of his incubator – how it is collaborating and contracting, using MoU’s, with local, regional, national + African, USA, Indian, Brazilian and European, MNC’s and Academic research institutions.             

These cross-sector actions are all designed to bring new innovations to create and perfect IP faster than before, each with the maximum added value and channels to international markets.            

Smart Xchange



Ms. Robin Erwin, the CEO of infoDEV award-winning Smart Exchange of South Africa. Robin tells us that the SmartXchange incubation model is still being adapted and developed in the light of experience and feedback from incubatees and supporters.  No one is resting on their laurels of past successes.           

Clearly and crucially, Robynne explains to us how and why SmartXchange uses events and forums extensively in awareness raising. Allowing sponsors, SME’s, local government and academia access to their clients in order to cross fertilise ICT needs and software solutions.   Again we hear how monitoring and goal setting with their clients is crucial to successful and timely graduation as SmartXchange repeats its successful results time and time again. Rental costs increase over time to encourage exit. Hot-desking and virtual clients are incentivised and encouraged. Even the best of startups need specific training and discipline to embed financial controls and monthly reporting. To remain a client this is the norm.          

New initiatives with their own Microsoft Accredited Academy include training youth people and women – giving them access to technology, skills and increased confidence that ICT is indeed a career path open to all in Durban. New companies need these internet savvie and computer literate recruits.          

Ms. Leoni Greyling, the CEO of Softstart Business Technology Incubator, Johannesburg RSA. Leoni brought our attention to their successful hub and spoke model of “satellite incubation” – raising awareness in academic institutions and leading students and post-graduate researchers to become entrepreneurial in their vision and thirst for commercial success.          


softstart focus


Assessing graduates via business planning through virtual pre-incubator, business incubation and then into bricks and mortar on either a hot desking or full-time basis as teams form and head for market.           

Softstart BTIThe primary focus of SoftstartBTI is on the Concept and Development Phases of ventures. Businesses in the Concept Phase, for instance, make use of SoftstartBTI’s mentoring services in the development of a coherent conceptual analysis.        

These are encapsulated and charted monthly and quarterly using tailored software which is also available to all infoDEV / AIN incubators.   

Mr. Chris Vermeulen, the General Manager for Bandwidth Barn, Cape Town, RSA.    Chris took us through the Bandwidth Barn incubation programme including telling  impact assessments in terms of survival, turnover and jobs sustained. An impressive 78 – 99% of the BwB companies created, streamed and graduated are surviving in the Cape Province.     Launched in 2000 as CITI’s flagship project, the Bandwidth Barn fast tracks the pace of business growth in the ICT sector in the Western Cape by helping businesses to establish themselves, commercialise new products and services, create jobs and wealth and add economic diversity to the community.          

Focusing on SMMEs in the Province, the BWB encourages innovation and provides ongoing training and support needed to help clients to overcome the entry barriers to start-up, survival and grow their businesses and thus accelerating their development.           

The BWB executes its strategy via its Accel Enterprise Development Programme, including the Velociti, My Business Group, My Mentor and Women in ICT enterprise development programmes. Running as well their ICT awareness programmes such as Youth in IT and VIP Graduate.          

The most recent announcement of the Cisco partnership and graduate competitions are typical of their groundbreaking work.           

Business incubator Bandwidth Barn has been accredited as a Cisco Entrepreneur Institute training centre. As part of the winning mandate, Bandwidth Barn will create an additional 10 local institutes over an 18-month period.           

Each of the training centres will give entrepreneurs access to a broad network of other business owners, mentors, partners, and distribution channels. “Through this powerful network, we will be more able to develop best practice, while offering our local entrepreneurs a global stage for learning, and potentially their products and services.” says Chris. According to Cisco, the entrepreneur institute targets predominantly emerging market countries. It offers a series of workshops made up of business-relevant content from Stanford University, Cornell University, and non-profit development organisation, My Own Business.          

Participants discuss strategic ideas ranging from information delivery to the use of Internet technologies to drive business growth. Cisco points to the lack of business skills and poor access to technology as being the primary reasons for business failure.          

Bessie Manchu, Cisco Entrepreneur Institute territory manager for SA, says: “With the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute, core business skills and knowledge on how to use technology to their advantage is taught to help equip entrepreneurs and create a positive economic and social impact in South African communities.”           

 We have almost arrived at the end of DAY 2 of the 3 day conference programme and everyone we have spoken to is clear that this has been highly inspirational to many delegates and guest speakers – a highly charged and timely delivery of the best incubation practices and programmes currently running in Africa.          

Throughout the proceedings on Day 1 & 2 our speakers and moderators have received stunning memento’s of our time in Durban. These have been made by local artisans and crafts people and framed by Furntech cabinet makers.    

I look forward to my own hanging as a reminder of what has been a life changing week spent with my colleagues, friends and new aquaintances. Thankyou all for contributing and participating whole-heartedly.    

Now that we have met face to face, we each look forward to continue the experience by working and collaborating online – especially with those of you who have sought me out for access, coaching and training in sharing knowledge and meeting virtually via our AIN resources on the Internet.     

At close of today’s proceedings, CEO of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA): Ms. Hlonela Lupuwana, Mr. Sipho Zikode, the Acting Deputy Director General in the Department of Trade and Industry (South Africa), and Mr. Michael Reddy, the CEO of Furntech would deliver the concluding address, which was followed by the vote of thanks by Mr. Jayesh Ravjee, The Head of SEDA Technology Programme and Chairperson of the SABTIA:RSA.              

Mignon flip charts

Mignon flip charts


 In direct response to a question posed from the floor by the DTI representative – Everyone participated in an impromptu half hour – “What one thing would we like to be / do different due to this conference?”    This produced a flip chart list of 20 actions /outcomes that we all wish to see happen before we meet again next year! {placeholder for same}           

The evening Gala Dinner and SABTIA Recognition Awards downtown at the Hilton Hotel were to prove just as entertaining as everything we have experienced thus far – watch this space………            

18th March AIN Conference 2010 DAY 2 AM – Coastlands upon the Ridge Durban

March 25, 2010 at 9:57 am | Posted in AIN, Business Support, Economic Development, ICT, incubation, incubator, networking, Tools | Leave a comment
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 Guid Morning Durban! what a first Day can we keep up this standard – let’s try,        

Our 2010 conference delegates and speakers have each made this long trip to participate in the largest, most extensive AIN conference hosted by infoDEV, Seda & SABTIA we have ever had.
They have arrived safely and on time from the United States of America, the United Kingdom (Well Scotland really – but I never complain ‘cos we run the country anyway – don’t we Gordon and Alistair – well for the next 5 weeks at any rate – vote labour for sustainable recovery!), Senegal, Uganda, Benin, Botswana, Nigeria, Tanzania, India, Zambia and all the delegates from all parts of the Republic of South Africa .     

The early 8am start and the lift up to the 6th floor venue was proving a challenge for many of oor esteemed colleagues = Durban rush hour traffic? jet lag? free beer and SA wine? or too much floor exercise with the DJ last night at the Yacht club. My lips are sealed. RSA seems to dance to its own beat – don’t ya think?      


Looking SW



Looking South



Lookin SE


Hmm ….. time then for a cup of java lava as Steve tells me – coffee and biccies, fruit juice and a stroll around the roof top veranda wi’ ma camera – as stunning and sunny Durban starts a anither new day. Coastlands upon the Ridge has only been open 4 months but you can see how it is going to be a popular venue for conferences in the future!       


Looking East



Looking NE



Looking West


 In addition each room has its own balcony, wicker furniture and light breeze off the Indian Ocean.     

Aah we are getting on the road again, thanks Koogan crack your whip laddie! What do you have in store for us today? PS all hyperlinks below lead to the speakers presentations – enjoy!!       


Alan & Jayesh


Our conference today was to start once again at 8am!!, with Ms. Nandipha Bam, the Acting CEO of Alfred Nzo Development Agency of South Africa, moderating the session on Women, Youth and Rural Incubation, in which the CEO of the Seda Sugar Cane Incubator and Agriwiz, Malelane, RSA (SESUCI) (click to review) , Mr. James Vos shared the platform with Ms. Louise de Klerk, the CEO of Timbali, Nelspruit, RSA , (click to review) an agricultural incubator, Ms. Erica Elk, the Executive Director of  Cape Craft & Design Institute, Cape Town, RSA, all of South Africa and Dr. Mbarou G. Mbaye, an Independent Consultant from Senegal addressing us on Global Research – Incubation for Women (click to review). 

James queried as a member of the male species and not getting any younger his being the choice to lead off this topic but within minutes we could see what a great choice it was. Empowerment of Rural Women through incubation, a Case Study (click to review) I became absorbed in the difference incubation makes to farming – equalling and exceeding the top 5% of commercial farmers within RSA is the entry criteria for their support and participation – jings that’s a tough criteria to meet as an incubatee farmer seeking help to market. I cannot think of many global incubators setting the bar this high. If we all take only one thing from this week for me it has to be this slide from James       

Incubation v Non Incubation

Non Incubation v Incubation {Hello Charles, nice to see you again}


 I must admit I thought my short visit to Mozambique for my first AIN conference 3 years ago was an eye-opener but James’ revelation that his staff included legal experts who ensure the title to land passes swiftly to or stays with the surviving female farmer before bankrupcy ensues and land fertility is lost was a shock.     

Although farm workers, including my father his 7 brothers and 2 sisters, in Scotland suffered with farmers and tied cottages as they worked the land – no-one lost their livelihood in the ways described here.     

His presentation is a “must read this folks” – sorry but it takes 10 minutes and is packed with facts and successes. In talking with James afterwards he indicated to myself that there are announcements to come later this year which anyone with an interest in Agritech will benefit from – watch this space.       

Amablom brand

Amablom Brand


 Next up was Louise – I am afraid we Scotsmen are apt to wear our hearties on our sleevies and she had me goin’ big time. She immediately made us aware of circumstance, of passion, of dedication, of how we can make a difference working with our clients. The truth in simply stating you MUST record data first in order to be able to measure and reap success. timbali     

  Timbali Technology Incubator’s Enterprise Development Model for Rural Women in Incubation (click to review) I may have become interested and worked within incubation since 1988 but this was someone who is fast tracking horticulturists and hitting export markets – I for one will be looking at the branding of my flowers in UK supermarkets next time. Ms de Klerk, each time I see your picture or till we meet again, “par excellence” sums you up for me.     

Cape Craft & Design Institute      

Cape Craft & Design Institute clients

Having sweetened us up talking about sugar cane production and convinced us to shop for flowers when we get home up stepped Erica to extol the virtues of incubation the craft and design sector in Eastern Cape.       

CCDICape Craft & Design Institute est 2001.

What we are hearing and seeing again this morning is the importance of supporting and encouraging collaboration, cooperation, supply sourcing and joint marketing of sectoral products and initiatives.      

(Presentation still to be uploaded)




Cape Town   



 Our closing speaker before lunch was Mbarou from Senegal Global Research – Incubation for Women (click to review) WOMEN BUSINESS INCUBATION IN AFRICA: BUSINESS INCUBATION A NEW PATH FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN AFRICA. Mbarou is working with Heinz Fielder and others within the infoDEV working party in this very important field of research.       

Many of Mbarou’s slides jumped up for me revealing in their own words the barriers women seek to overcome in deciding to formally start their own business – not just in Africa.       

Starting any business

Starting any business


—Overall, there is a lack of policy geared toward business incubation in Africa
—Lack of financing (86% of responses), lack of information (64% of responses), lack of supportive networks (50%)
—Constraints related to gender role and the social status: lack of self confidence (34% of responses) and lack of role models       

Day 2 Continued……….       


AIN Conference Durban, Tuesday 16th March 2010

March 23, 2010 at 10:03 am | Posted in AgriTech, AIN, Business Support, Economic Development, ICT, incubation, incubator, Online Community, startup, Tools | Leave a comment
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I left home at 8am Sunday 14th to travel from Edinburgh to Durban (RSA). It was 6 deg C. 

It was my first ever flights with Emirates and I will definitely use them again if the opportunity arises. Dubai is a stunning airport terminal with every facility you could wish for to pamper your needs. 

Touched down safely and smoothly but somewhat tired at in Durban 6pm local time on Monday evening after international transfers at Manchester and Dubai. Local temperature was a magical 26 deg C!! 

The Airport was busy. This is clearly a World Cup venue as I read all the advertising on display. Pity I am 82 days early and Scotland did not qualify. I am not allowed to say “Anyone but England” as that is deemed to be racist here in UK!! Well we can but hope – “”Come oan South Africa“” we will be watching every move? 

BTW What is this Fitba’ Friday thingie I hear people speaking aboot? (Sorry I do lapse into my Scots vernacular when I start to get excited.) 

Wow – the AIN conference is up on the adverts too – well done Pat & Zama @ ProactivePR. 

AIN conference 2010 

Don’t ya just luv that logo………growing Africa through incubation – yup that works for me. 

At breakfast on Tuesday I met Dr Mbarou Mbaye from Senegal one of the AIN committee members. I had previously talked with Mbarou via Skype so I already knew she is on the infoDEV global research Study team – incubator support for women into business. More on that topic later. 

Delegates continued to appear at our beautiful new venue Coastlands upon the Ridge during Tuesday – early for the conference which was due to start on the Wednesday. I find lasting and effective relationships often start with chance meetings during the times before during and after these collaborative events and today was no exception. 

In no particular order I met Dr. Julie Momah from the Technology Incubation Centres, Nigeria, Ms. Valerie da Costa, head of infoDEV, Steve Giddings, Regional Facilitator, Jill Sawers, InfoDEV Consultant and Ellen Olafsen, Operations Officer from infoDEV. 

InfoDEV support has been crucial and a catalyst and attractor for leveraging government and regional funding much of what has happened to grow AIN to this point – our third Annual Conference in Southern Africa. 




Another AIN committee member from Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town, CEO , Chris Vermuelen, arrived and we shared experiences on running competitions to select entrepreneurs suitable for incubation support and facilitation. I know he burned the the midnight oil Tuesday/Wednesday to make sure all the entries for the Cape competition were compliant as the 17th was the closing day for entries. Who says men can’t multi-task? 

The BWB Cisco online Entrepreneurial programme has just launched and sounds really good. It is a new exciting initiative for sub Saharan Africa! Good on you Chris. 

Jayesh Ravjee from STP / SABTIA and Michael Reddy FURNTECH /AIN hosted an informal evening meeting to welcome the infoDEV and AIN team members to Durban and to share progress on all fronts – Sub Sahara in advance of the Conference. 

Compared to other regional business incubation networks we are coming from behind. We have just reached 500+ subscribers for our Newsletter, while infoDEV have 5000 subscribers world-wide. Pulling our socks up with this conference is a timely and welcome shot in the arm for everyone interested in making a difference within Africa. 

infoDEV Nokia

infoDEV & Nokia partners


For their part Valerie gave us a good heads up, prior to her leading presentation in the morning. The “ink is still wet” on infoDEV’s recently agreed 2 year €11.9 million programme “Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy” with support from Nokia and the Government of Finland. This will target Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe with particular support for countries including Cambodia (initiatives to support women), Nepal, Mozambique, Tanzania and Vietnam (initiatives to support women). 

With 4.6 billion mobile users around the world today we have the world’s biggest platform for economic development. It can clearly be utilised to transform the ability of the illiterate and computer-less population within developing world giving unfettered access to support within rural and urban communities. 

The recent Mobile Monday rollouts are a core part of raising awareness and the impact of mobile technology can have within Africa 

MobileMonday to launch chapters in Africa
09 Feb 2010 MobileMonday has announced the opening of chapters in Kampala, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya. The Kampala chapter opens its doors on March 8, and the Nairobi chapter launches on March 11. A new South African chapter will also open in Capetown. After over a year of background work, the global organization formed a partnership with the World Bank to take the community’s concepts to several African countries. … 

and so to bed, my head reeling with new opportunities for sub Saharan Africa……….tomorrows conference launch awaited us.

iHub shows the way for African Incubation

March 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Posted in Business Support, Economic Development, ICT, incubation, incubator, startup | Leave a comment
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Application developers, web designers and other techies in Nairobi now have a place to meet, network and get connected to the right people to further their causes.

The iHub nairobi opened on Wednesday evening promising to be the launching pad for great technology ideas from the grassroots. Short, for Innovation Hub, the facility on Nairobi?s Ngong Road is open to anybody with an interest in technology and seeks to build partnerships with industry and mentoring.

Are we witnessing here the start of a trend in continent, which will allow local techies to have a platform to develop share their inventions and ideas on a national level?

AIN online community

February 24, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Posted in Business Support, Economic Development, incubation, Online Community | Leave a comment
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You can join, contribute and benefit from AIN online community activities by registering your interest at these three initiatives. Approval is normally granted within 24 hours.

1] – sharing incubation knowledge, resources and discussions on a secure portal

2] – sharing your professional bio, contacts , experience and expertise on AIN on LinkedIN .

3] – Profiling and sharing your startups and incubatees as well as prediciting their future growth and success using AIN on YouNoodle analytical tools

AIN on WordPress!

February 15, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Posted in AIN, ICT, incubation, Online Community, Tools | 2 Comments
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Welcome to the blog page for the African Incubator Network. Our webmaster and editor for this blog is David Cromar.

Looking forward to meeting everyone in Durban for the 2010 Conference. Registrations are still open until the 27th February.

BTW our knowledge sharing portal can be accessed via .

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