SA to develop best practices for incubators

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The Southern African Business and Technology Incubation Association (SABTIA) has been mandated by South Africa’s Department of Small Business Development to develop best practices within the region’s incubator community and create a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem for incubation in both the formal and informal sectors.

SABTIA is an independent association formed to promote and coordinate business incubation and acceleration in Southern Africa. It celebrated its official relaunch at an event last week, hosted in partnership with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), and the Department of Small Business Development.

The association has been mandated by the government to address the challenges in the local business incubation and acceleration community. It will do this by enabling supportive activities for incubators, improving capacities and capabilities within incubators, and creating a platform for collaboration between private and public stakeholders across the region to address key incubation challenges.

SABTIA will also be forming strategic partnerships with the likes of the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) in the US and the EBN Innovation Network in Europe to localise global content and best practice.

Speaking at the event, minister of small business development Lindiwe Zulu said incubation and acceleration programmes are particularly important in developing nations to accelerate economic growth and transformation. She said her department has recognised the need to develop a new policy framework for re-energising and repositioning business incubators and accelerators to meet the challenges of national development.

“Many critics have argued that business incubation has limited success in Africa. But the challenges we face are because we lack coordination and haven’t localised global models to suit our unique conditions. We need to improve capacity and capability within our incubators, and develop effective and distinctive sector and  regional ecosystems to support them,” said Zaid Mohidin, chairman of SABTIA.

“We need entrepreneurial ecosystem builders to come together to make a change in Southern Africa. We need to be generous with the learning experience, for the betterment of incubators, for the betterment of entrepreneurs, and for the betterment of the economy.”

SABTIA plans to develop an accredited network of incubators, define a professional code of conduct, develop good practice standards, set benchmarking methodologies, serve as an entry point for international incubation into South Africa, and equip incubators and accelerators with the tools, knowledge and networks they need to provide quality services and support to SMMEs.

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