Cell C has joined forces with Google’s innovation program called Umbono and The Hub in Cape Town to support technology entrepreneurial development in South Africa.
With small and medium businesses being one of the largest drivers of employment and economic development in the country, Government is encouraging larger businesses to look at building up and supporting smaller companies. Cell C’s collaboration with Google is a step towards engaging potential innovators and building the mobile internet ecosystem, that will in turn contribute to the South African economy.
The Umbono program is a 6-month incubation project for technology entrepreneurs hoping to get their products off the ground. Google, together with its angel investors, have selected four teams of entrepreneurs ‚ and will select at least two more – to benefit from the incubation process.
The application process is open year round and is accessible at: www.google.co.za/umbono. The chosen teams will receive seed capital, and mentorship from some of the world’s and SA’s hottest business leads to help them develop a solid business plan and prepare to get their products off the ground. It is expected that at the end of the six months, the most successful teams will receive follow-on funding from the local venture capital community or from investors overseas.
‚Umbono aims to bring together all the elements necessary for tech start-ups to trial their ideas and ultimately attract additional rounds of investment to grow their businesses,‚ says Luke Mckend, Google South Africa Country Manager.
‚We’ve seen some great applications to the Umbono programme, and we’re delighted to welcome these particularly innovative start-ups onboard. Throughout the programme, teams will not only benefit from local business mentorship, but also from the extensive mentorship network of Google experts‚ .
The five teams will be housed at The Hub in Cape Town, where they will have access to business facilities, like a boardroom and Internet access, which would otherwise have been difficult for the start-ups to fund themselves. Cell C will be paying the fees for all five teams to be housed at The Hub and has installed state-of-the-art connectivity to ensure that the teams have everything they need to succeed. ‚A project like this has not been undertaken in SA before, which is why Cell C joined forces with Google to make this a reality. Because innovation is a key value within Cell C as an organization, it makes sense that we put our efforts behind a project that encourages new ideas,‚ says Simon Camerer, Cell C Executive Head of Marketing. As part of the program, the teams will have access to Cell C product developers as mentors, and Cell C will have access to on the latest tools local developers would like to see brought to market. ‚The new technologies that come out of the program keep Cell C at the bleeding edge of technology innovation. These technologies will not only benefit people from across the globe, but also Cell C’s customers,‚ says Camerer. Cell C hopes that the project will be a blueprint for other projects and encourage the growth of a wider variety of mobile, internet and technology entrepreneurs in the future.
‚With government supporting the millennium development goals of job creation and economic development, we are confident that the innovations that come out of the project will contribute towards on social and economic development,‚ says Mercia Maserumule, Cell C’s CSI manager.