According to Telkom group CEO Sipho Maseko, the firm wanted to find a different way of running such a programme.
The fund will include four pillars among them the FutureFund – an initial investment of R100-million is in a dedicated investment fund to be managed by IDF Managers and Future Hubs – focused areas where people can go to set up new businesses. These are in partnership with Wits University’s Tshimologong precinct and Bandwidth Barn.
Others are FutureProof – technology will be made available to entrepreneurs in partnership with Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, SAP and Accenture and FutureSource – creating genuine, sustainable, long terms business opportunities for the enterprise and FutureMakers programme that involves long term structured investment from Telkom in driving solid businesses.
“We asked ourselves what is the societal impact we can have; how can we do things a scale; and do things that truly transformational? We asked how could we help people to lift themselves up to become very successful?
“We thought there must be a different way to approach this: to co-investin businesses of the future, in a way that will not only make money but will impact the communities and society as a whole.”
The R100 m program will target 100 Internet cafes in the townships, with about 1 000 entrepreneurs impacted.
“More importantly, over time, we want to have enterprises and businesses that will be less dependent on Telkom.”
The programme is not just for enterprise supplier development, although most the SMEs will be included in the Telkom value chain with the Telkom hoping to create a virtuous circle.
“Although we want to broaden our supplier base we want to contribute to the economic growth of the country as a whole,” Maseko says.
“We believe that if we do not democratise access to technology we will not change the South African economy,’ says Ian Russel, chief procurement officer of Telkom.
“It’s clear that technology is increasingly the first barrier to entry for any business,” Russel says. “But it is also the fastest moving area of business.”
Helping to future-proof small businesses is one of the primary goals of the programme, he adds.