Written by Lonwabo Marele, CEO at Successful Journals
Three days of epic bliss and connections was the experience 10 township-based entrepreneurs from Khayelitsha received at the South African Innovation Summit (#SAIS2022) this past week.
The young business owners are from the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative’s incubation programmes, held every year, at the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn.
More than 1 200 delegates, investors, government officials, executives, and thought leaders filled up the Old Biscuit Mill and the Innovation City’s hub in an attempt to introduce fresh ideas, new networks, fruitful knowledge, and access to global funding.
Khaltsha Call Centre co-founder, Zandile Tlhapi said the type of education she received from the summit about blockchain and cryptocurrency was an eye-opener. She hopes to follow up and bring the same education back to the township – so it can reach more business owners who are hungry for digital transformation.
“Not only was I there for myself, but I was there for others as a connector. Education is needed in our townships in terms of bitcoin and the blockchain. I want to integrate blockchain into my business. The opportunities to meet people like Alex (Pryor) who work with technology and Web3.0 inspire me and can inspire more people on the ground,” she said.
Eezy Technologies CEO, Lwandile Mxhamli, from Kuyasa, Khayelitsha, said the conference gave him the confidence that his business has the potential to expand and scale anywhere in the world based on connections.
“It was like a dream to be in the same room with investors and founders. It was something that we only see on social media. For a township business, it helps us to not limit ourselves – the SA Innovation Summit gave us that feeling,” said Mxhamli.
Uhlanga Books business owner, Zimkitha Zilo said the SA Innovation Summit was helpful in terms of advancing the world through technology.
“More importantly, I work in the EdTech space. I was quite impressed by the guy who uses technology to create a crossword puzzle in vernac where children can learn to speak in their home language and from nine other languages while they are playing. As far as other technologies such as blockchain, it was a little bit far-fetched for the townships because these things still need to be introduced accordingly,” said Zilo.
General Manager at the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn, Fezeka Mavuso said the programmes provides its graduates with an opportunity to participate in other avenues and events that partner with CiTi.
“The youth that participated at the SA Innovation Summit and others were identified by investors and relevant funders that were willing to assist to grow their businesses. One of the winners from the programme will be linked to BioCiTi to help her build her product. Alderman James Vos was impressed by this group and they are willing to solve the problems they face in our communities. They have innovative tech solutions, and the future is bright,” said Mavuso.
The rest of the business owners that were present at the SA Innovation Summit included, Lonwabo Marele, the CEO at Successful Journals; Thobeka Nkabinde, the CEO at eRank Maths Play; Tatenda Ruswa, CEO at InOgital; Makabongwe Metuso, the CEO at Good Grades; Bonga Phuthuza, CEO at Entersekt; Andile Msolo, the CEO at ALM QI; as well Lunga Hamilton Momoza, the co-founder and CEO at Basket eCommerce.