An innovative business accelerator that seeks to thrust youth living in Atlantis, in the Western Cape, into economic inclusion, has opened.
Symbiosis Innovation and Accelerator Centre (Symbiosis), the re-purposed former South African Manufacturing Technology Demonstration Centre (SMTDC), opened its doors with the immediate creation of almost 360 jobs for young people in the area.
Differentiating itself from traditional accelerators, Symbiosis uses a hybrid-innovation model at the core of its business, under the principle of Innovating Inclusive Impact (I3). Symbiosis looks to develop specific business functions and expertise in certain areas, such as a particular technology, an industry vertical (such as manufacturing, agriculture, low carbon economy) as well as leverage its existing capabilities and assets and making it accessible to various stakeholder groups. This ensures that the Symbiosis portfolio has access to unique capabilities, not just the capital and guidance that conventional incubators offer.
“The centre is premised on a multi-sectoral led business model deliberately seeking collaboration with various stakeholders across the public, private and non-profit sectors, as well as academia, small business enterprises and communities. We are partnering with like-minded organisations, all centered around a vision of building a better South Africa for all South Africans,” says Cornelius Scheepers, CEO of Symbiosis, addressing members of the community, dignitaries and interested parties at last week’s official opening.
In Atlantis, for example, five key industry areas have already been identified. One being the burgeoning call-centre sector, where over 350 youth will now be trained in tele-sales techniques, promoting a South African created product to local and international audiences.
The call centre, originally slated for the southern suburbs in Cape Town, was purposefully moved to Atlantis and housed at SIAC, to breathe fresh life into the area.
“Love them or hate them, the call centre sector is a large-scale employer and this is exactly what areas like Atlantis, with high youth unemployment rates, need, to bring not only inclusion but prosperity,” says Patrick Kadlaie, chief operating officer of Symbiosis, and someone who has been at the forefront of social enterprise development in South Africa for many years.
Other opportunities for employment will also come from Afrika Tikkun Services (ATS), who will make the centre their home and that specialises in youth skills development and placement projects, as well as the Impact Media Youth Hub.
Impact is aimed at training Youth in photography, journalism, radio presenting and production, filming and many other facets of media, preparing them for the future of communication and creating a new narrative for Atlantis. “We hope to scale the SIAC programme to generate at least 1 000 jobs over the next six-months, along the West Coast Corridor,” says Kadalie.
Since its launch, and in less than a week, SIAC has gone into some heads of agreement with a number of partners such as Afrika Tikkun Services and Fundamentals Training Centre.
In addition, on the day of the launch, SIAC received more than 150 applications for jobs at the centre and collected more than 60 CVs that are now being processed. Potential deal flow is promising with potential Investors also keen on supporting the centre’s efforts, now coming to the fore.