Having successfully incubated and developed 27 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) since 2020, AWS’ Equity Equivalent Investment Programme (EEIP) seeks to add another 20 success stories with its 2024 cohort.

For SMEs in South Africa, the integration of technology in businesses has accelerated, with increased reliance on online platforms and automation tools for operational efficiency. Although there is an increased internet penetration, technology adoption and availability of venture capital funding across Africa, a Startup Genome survey highlights a concerning gender gap for tech startups on the sub-continent with only 15% of founders being women.

Registrations will officially open for applicants to join the 2024 program on 18 March 2024. AWS’ EEIP not only intends to elevate its impact in 2024, and it also seeks to apply a greater focus on empowering female and youth entrepreneurs.

AWS prioritises 100% South African Black owned SMEs in the ICT sector and SMEs who use technology to deliver industry solutions. These SMEs will establish their businesses using AWS cloud and cloud computing services to solve their customer problems, to contribute to job creation and to create economic development in South Africa.

AWS’ EEIP is an 18-to-24-month Partner Acceleration Programme that aims to assist Black SMEs to launch their businesses. These SMEs become part of a global cohort of 120k+ AWS Partner Network (APN) businesses. These SMEs will tap into Amazon systems, skills, and knowledge. They will gain access to local and international market opportunities, all while creating jobs in the country’s economy. As of 2024, AWS’ EEIP SMEs have already helped secure over 150 jobs for South African youth.

Chris Erasmus, country manager at AWS South Africa, says: “These SMEs are critical drivers of our economic future. As a major player in cloud, we have a duty to work with our customers to empower growth from within, going all the way from funding, to training, to business development. With AWS’ EEIP, we differentiate ourself by walking the journey with our SMEs to achieve success.

“Through this program, we have built lasting relationships and provided ongoing support to our SMEs. Our teams work closely with the SME partners and AWS customers. We are especially proud of the female founded SMEs like One Linkage and Melio AI who achieved APN Advance Tier Partner status in less than one year on the program, this is a major milestone.”