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BEE start-ups in line for free mentoring

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Black-empowered IT start-up companies stand in line to win a year’s free office space and mentoring programme, thanks to a competition launched by BSG and the Bandwidth Barn. The competition forms part of both organisations’ goal to encourage the creation of sustainable IT businesses.

Any black-owned, entrepreneurial IT company can enter the competition during the month of August.  In September, the entrants will be briefed on how they will be measured, and six months later, in February/March 2009, the winner will be announced.
A panel of skilled and experienced IT and business executives will score the entrants over the six month period using the following criteria:
* Financial performance, such as cash flow management and revenue growth;
* Customer retention and sales;
* Internal processes, such as the quality of the company’s business plan and systems to implement it; and
* Learning and growth, such as the culture/approach of the individual or organisation.
The successful entrant will receive a year’s free office space in the Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town, one of the leading business accelerators in South Africa.  Office space includes access to meeting rooms and a shared reception, as well as networking opportunities with other tenants also in the IT industry.  BSG, a black empowered business and software solutions delivery company will sponsor the office rental.
Bandwidth Barn will sponsor a year’s mentoring programme for the competition winner.  
Chris Vermeulen, GM of the Bandwidth Barn, says that this is an important component as many IT entrepreneurs lack the skills required to run a successful business.
“IT entrepreneurs are often technically skilled, but lack business know-how,” he says.  “Mentoring programmes have proven to be very successful to help IT start-ups find their feet.”
To have access to office space in the heart of Cape Town’s business district is also a key advantage for an entrepreneur.  BSG recognised this need and therefore approached Bandwidth Barn to partner with them in the BSG/BWB Enterprise Development Award.
“This forms part of our BEE enterprise development strategy,” says Greg Reis, CEO at BSG.  “We are committed to helping BEE IT companies and providing office space takes care of a fundamental requirement for a credible and successful business.”
Application forms for the competition are available on the CITI and Bandwidth Barn websites.