ABSA is changing perceptions of the way we think about financial institutions, particularly when it comes to entrepreneur development. Its Shared Growth Strategy is designed to assist emerging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa to grow and prosper through various Enterprise Development (ED) initiatives, while adding to shareholder value. These initiatives contribute to the wider national agenda to promote a thriving SME sector that enables economic and social development in the country.
Absa has ring-fenced funds for development finance, with funds being advanced under an Enterprise Development Programme. Access to Non-Financial support is regarded as crucial as of the 80% of SMME’s which fail within the first year – 67% fail due to ineffective management and positioning.
There are ten ABSA Entrepreneurship Centres around the country, located in all the major business centres which provide the following interventions:
- Entrepreneurial mind-set development
- Identification of problems and the development of creative solutions to overcome these
- Validation of business ideas
- Development of a viable business concept
Entrepreneurs are empowered with:
- Basic entrepreneurial acumen
- Business tools to develop business understanding
- Financial and business models
- Resources for success
- Pitching skills and a pitch deck
An example of an enterprise development initiative facilitated by Absa’s Western Cape enterprise development team is Rise, a fintech innovation hub in Cape Town. The intention for Rise is to lower the barrier to growth for women entrepreneurs by supporting them with access to a space and community that can help fast-track their personal and professional ambitions via mentorship, access to markets, and access to learning and skills development opportunities. The ultimate objective is to support the power of small businesses and is a perfect example of co-creation for shared growth.
In June this year Rise selected five black women in technology entrepreneurs to participate in an entrepreneurship assistance programme, hosted at the Cape Town facility. The technology sector is an area that requires support in terms of driving diversity and inclusion. The purpose of the initiative is to lower the barrier to growth for women entrepreneurs by supporting them with access to a space and community that can help fast-track their personal and professional ambitions through mentorship, access to markets, and access to learning and skills development opportunities.
The women entrepreneurs were specifically selected for the important role they play in driving economic growth – research has found that women in developing countries are largely prevented from harnessing their full potential due to a lack of funding, regulatory restrictions, lack of training and socio-cultural restrictions. The participating start-ups were selected based on a number of criteria. They had to be early- or seed-stage entrepreneurs with novel and potentially disruptive patented technology. The affordability of their solutions and value to their respective communities were aspects that were also considered. So too were the expected development and growth potential of test products, current clients and business traction.
The chosen entrepreneurs went on an intensive, 12-week boot camp that culminated in a funding pitch to potential investors at Rise.
Following intensive coaching during the boot camp, the five selected founders had an opportunity to attend monthly networking events with tech experts and investors to ensure they are pitch ready.
The following five entrepreneurs who were selected to participate:
- Lily Brinjal, founded by Miriam Vallie, is an online store boasting beautiful, locally-produced items by tapping into Cape Town’s creative pool of talent. Vallie provides a platform for the public to access these local products.
- Boudoir Box is an online store focused on sourcing locally-produced, luxury, and designer lingerie for the plus-size market. Founded by Tarryn Cardre Abrahams, this unique e-commerce store includes a subscription pamper box.
- SintuOnline, founded by Mpho Kate Sekwele, aims to promote African heritage to a global customer base by providing a platform for African designers and craftspeople to showcase their products. Sekwele focuses primarily on women and, through the site, aims to assist them to scale their businesses.
- Rydwith Holdings Security Tech provides a quick response for people to get out of danger. Founder, Santina Iya, has developed a wearable panic button that allows the user to share their location coordinates to local police, private security and loved ones.
- Zedek Fibre Telecomms is a unique fibre infrastructure provider committed to enabling internet connectivity for all. Catering for both homes and businesses, founder Lizzy Katlego Mabena has a strong focus on schools, hospitals and hard-to-reach communities.