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MTN Business backs ICT entrepreneurs

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MTN Business has embarked on a long-term supplier development programme that will empower young, black entrepreneurs to take their place at the forefront of South Africa’s evolution to a knowledge-based economy.“For MTN Business, local supplier development is more than a box-ticking exercise,” says Alpheus Mangale, Chief Enterprise Officer at MTN Business. “It’s true that enterprise and supplier development has taken on a new significance in the revised BBBEE codes, but we’re looking beyond these metrics to make a more tangible impact on the economy.

“Our programme is aligned with the National Development Plan’s goals of addressing poverty alleviation and real empowerment by creating a new class of young, black entrepreneurs. As a leader in the technology sector we’re in a prime position to leverage our technical expertise and national footprint to develop skills and small enterprises that have the potential to grow into larger, sustainable businesses.”

MTN Business has partnered with New Generation Mindset (NGM), a training and skills development provider that specialises in SMME development and mentorship in the ICT sector.
The supplier development programme has been designed as a three-year intervention that will see 60 small ICT businesses developed through a six-stage programme that will take them from the start-up phase to fully self-sufficient status.

“Our long-term objective is to develop these entrepreneurs into providers of ICT services of the highest order. Whether they’re serving the consumer market or SME sector, they will in effect be helping to differentiate MTN through the delivery of key technology solutions.

“We expect the biggest impact to be from them enabling SMEs in rural and township areas to access services that contribute to their competitiveness. Many of these businesses fall outside of the fold of traditional ICT service providers and we believe that this new generation of ICT entrepreneurs will find a ready market to grow their businesses,” Mangale says.

The development programme is open to black youth-owned enterprises in the ICT services sector, ideally but not restricted to those who have been in business for between 12 and 24 months. Some level of post-school training and qualification will be required to qualify.

The successful applicants will then undertake the three-year programme at NGM’s incubators located around the country. Entrepreneurs who already have their own premises will continue to operate out of their facilities, but will be required to attend training sessions at NGM centres.

NGM will provide basic business support services to incubated companies while simultaneously developing the entrepreneurs’ business management skills in all aspects of operating a business.
For its part, MTN Business will draw on its technical training partner to pass on these skills.

“The first 18 months of the programme will be dedicated to building these technical and business skills, after which the businesses should be in a position to broaden their scope to include ancillary services and products from other equipment and service providers. This enhancement of their service is essential to their long-term survival,” Mangale says.

“With the advent of the Internet and the rapid rate of technological advances, ICT skills have become a crucial component in building any business. We believe that this crop of young entrepreneurs can make an invaluable contribution to making hundreds of small businesses around the country more efficient and competitive.”