By Staff Writer
South Africa’s fixed-line telephone group Telkom on Thursday announced an investment of more than R100 million in enterprise and supplier development with the launch of its FutureMakers programme.
FutureMakers focuses on driving innovation in the ICT sector by growing access to technology and by offering long-term support to its beneficiaries.
“We want to enable, empower and inspire entrepreneurs to stretch their ambitions and make their business visions a reality,” said Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko. “By growing entrepreneurial opportunities within ICT, we can create jobs, improve access to technology and develop a stable and competitive supply chain. FutureMakers serves the national vision for broadband and ICT development, while also supporting our own enterprise and supplier development (ESD) objectives,” Maseko said.
Minister for Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu applauded Telkom for this initiative. “We hope other corporates will emulate Telkom’s example of giving practical expression to the national agenda of building strong and sustainable small businesses and co-operatives that will be engines of economic growth and job creation.”
Through the FutureFund, Telkom is making an initial investment of R100 million to extend financial support to SMMEs that supply Telkom or that work within the broader ICT sector.
This funding will be in the form of working capital, loans and equity. Identity Development Fund managers have been appointed to manage the fund on behalf of Telkom.
Telkom is also investing in local suppliers and partners as well as potential suppliers, third party distributors, internet cafes, and innovative ICT start-ups by helping them to become more competitive, through the FutureSource initiative.
Business incubation services – or FutureHubs – form an integral part of the FutureMakers strategy.
Telkom is also investing over R5 million in upgrading a co-working and incubation space in Tshimologong Precinct, Braamfontein, which will be ready in November this year. Tshimologong will be Gauteng’s first business incubator for the ICT industry. It will provide Johannesburg ICT entrepreneurs with access to broadband connectivity, mentoring and other incubation support.
Partnerships, in the form of the FutureProof initiative, form the fourth pillar of the FutureMakers strategy.