The Western Cape Provincial Government has initiated a detailed training programme which seeks to give ICT entrepreneurs a broader skills base and empower them to create sustainable businesses. The programme is being run for tenants at business accelerator the Bandwidth Barn and powered by Telkom.
The courses offered include project management, presentation skills, basic accounting and financial management, end-user computing, time management, performance management (balanced scorecard) and business processes and strategy.
The first step was to conduct a needs analysis with the companies to establish the areas where they felt that skills were lacking. The audit revealed a diverse range of training needs.
"Although we had a fair idea of what would be required, we did not want to be prescriptive so we decided to ask the companies what they wanted," says Rahima Loghdey, director for workforce development at the Department for Economic Development and Tourism. "DEDAT has an integrated approach to entrepreneurial development, as we have complemented our investment in the mentorship programme with funding training to sharpen the business acumen of the entrepreneurs."
According to Chris Vermeulen, GM of the Bandwidth Barn, the Provincial DEDAT approached the Barn and suggested a training programme for its tenants.
"We were delighted to be proactively approached and responded immediately," he says. "We find that ICT start-ups are usually technically very sound but they need support with the more administrative side of business. The Bandwidth Barn works hard to bridge this gap via our mentorship programmes, but the direct training provided by this programme is invaluable."
The needs analysis was completed in December 2008 and a call for tenders went out. Training providers with accredited courses were selected in early January and included Bytes People Solutions, Analytix and CBM Training.
"We had a very small window to get this done before the end of government's financial year, so we all had to move quickly," says Vermeulen. "The teamwork between the Barn and government was inspiring and we hope to retain this support in the future."