Just to start off with, lets talk about what an incubator is. An incubator, at its core, is an organization geared toward speeding up the growth and success of startup and early stage companies. Depending on the incubators’ chosen focus they act as centres of capital resources such as funding, training, mentorship, work spaces & business development. They’re often a good path to funding from angel investors, governments, and other investors. Your business not only gets access to a potential buffet of funding, but also a host of intangible resources including mentorship, expertise and networking. The success or failure of these incubators is debatable and hinges on what the measure of success is.

South African entrepreneurs are spoiled for choice when it comes to these centres of development but mainly serve big cities such as Johannesburg, Tshwane, Durban & Cape Town. There is also an impressive diversity in the type/format of programmes these centres provide including: social-entrepreneurship programmes, tech accelerators, small-business development, early-stage startup support and many more. Whether or not you NEED an incubator depends on the entrepreneur & the growth strategy of his/her business. One thing is certain, whatever your experience good or bad, you will never regret joining a incubator. There is always something to learn & take away for future use.

Disclaimer: This list comprises of incubators which i have a personal experience with or those who’s impact has been exceptional in developing entrepreneurs in my own network.

Red Bull Amaphiko

Red Bull Amaphiko, a programme that supports social entrepreneurs who are using their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to make a difference in their communities.

http://www.amaphiko.redbull.com/en

Tshimologong Precinct

Tshimologong is the latest in Johannesburg’s newest incubators. Through Wits’ Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), Tshimologong has been three years in the making and is a dynamic development that was built to drive commercialisation of research and the development of high-level digital skills for students, working professionals and unemployed youths. Programmers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs and early-stage tech startups will feel right at home in this new  open-plan co-working areas.

http://www.jcse.org.za

The Box Shop

The Box Shop SA is a lifestyle retail initiative founded with a primary objective of solving access to market problems faced by Small to Medium Enterprises. The Box Shop SA seeks to cater a platform for young entrepreneurs to grow their businesses by reaching markets beyond their social influence and positioning themselves in global markets.

http://www.theboxshop.co.za/portal/

 

The Awethu Project

The Awethu Project is pioneering a new approach to identifying talented entrepreneurs in under-resourced South African communities. Applicants don’t need any minimum level of education, business experience, capital or even an investable idea. The only requirement is that an applicant comes from an under-resourced background and can prove that they have world-class entrepreneurial potential through Awethu’s Talent Identification Process.

http://www.awethuproject.co.za/

The Innovation Hub

The Innovation Hub is Southern Africa’s first Science and Technology Park that operates by international standards. High-technology entrepreneurs, business leaders, students, researchers and venture capitalists meet at this Tshwane-based hub to strengthen South Africa’s standard of innovative capacity. The Hub incorporates the capacity to take small businesses through a value chain from concept to eventual listing. Its offering includes marketing, mentorship, writing business plans to attract funding, as well as addressing issues surrounding human resources.

http://www.theinnovationhub.com

BizSpark South Africa

Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps startups succeed by giving them free access to Microsoft Azure cloud services, software, and support. BizSpark is committed to helping technology startups realize their goals on their own terms and in the shortest amount of time Microsoft BizSpark goals are twofold: First to help young and innovative software companies gain valuable experience and expertise in Microsoft technologies, with no upfront costs & Secondly Help startups establish connections with local and global startup ecosystems.

http://www.bizspark.microsoft.com/

The Shuttleworth Foundation

The Shuttleworth Foundation is a small social investor that provides funding to dynamic leaders who are at the forefront of social change. They  look for social innovators who are helping to change the world for the better and could benefit from a social investment model with a difference. They identify amazing people, give them a fellowship grant, and multiply the money they put into their own projects by a factor of ten or more.

http://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/

Shanduka Black Umbrellas 

Shanduka Black Umbrellas is a non-profit enterprise development incubation organisation partnering with the private sector, government and civil society to address the low levels of entrepreneurship and high failure rate of 100% black owned emerging businesses in South Africa. The programme focuses on promoting entrepreneurship as a desirable economic path, and nurturing 100% black-owned businesses in the critical first three years of their existence through the provision of nationwide incubators.

http://www.shandukablackumbrellas.org

Raizcorp business incubator 

Raizcorp provides business support for enthusiastic, growth-hungry entrepreneurs, offering them a platform that fosters learning and guidance, which can be translated into practical business success. They also offer partnership opportunities, providing invaluable business guidance and support for your business.

http://www.raizcorp.com

Standard Bank Incubator 

The Standard Bank Incubator goes beyond business training to provide market access and prototyping support, ensuring the sustainability of business ventures. The new incubators are Standard Bank-owned brick-and-mortar facilities where entrepreneurs can test, develop, and deploy their innovations with personal guidance from the bank’s innovation and enterprise development partners.

General Electric (GE)

General Electric (GE) SA is set to invest R500 million to create an engineering and development-focused Customer Innovation Centre (CIC) that is geared towards critical skills development through innovation and technology transfer. The end goal is for these SMEs to be absorbed into GE’s supply value chain to local and international multinational corporations. Small business owners will be exposed to business development services that focus on sharpening their business acumen, operational and management skills, while the technical development services will include engineering and problem-solving support and technology transfer.

http://www.gesat.co.za/

Thomson Reuters Labs

Thomson Reuters Labs collaborate with customers to solve big problems and rapidly prototype and validate solutions using data science and lean techniques. Working with external partners, Thomson Reuters Labs are active members of regional innovation ecosystems, delivering world-class solutions for customers.

http://www.innovation.thomsonreuters.com/en/labs.html

The Bandwidth Barn

The Bandwidth Barn, an innitiative operated by  The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative The Bandwidth Barn enables people to start businesses, develop great products and thus help change the world. It drives social and economic prosperity by leading Cape Town’s and the region’s innovation mission.

Bandwidth Barn shared office space Cape Town

LaunchLab

The LaunchLab is designed to take both individual entrepreneurs and teams through the process of building a viable company – from validating your concept to proving your business model in your industry or market. Whether you’re just at the idea stage, or you’re looking for better market access and an introduction to to Africa’s top investors, they can help you launch your business.

http://www.launchlab.co.za/

JOZI Hub

JoziHub is a co-creation space and community for early stage technology entrepreneurs and small businesses. This amazing space also offers a co-creation and collaboration space dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, growth, learning and collaboration through the power of technology. The space also offers an ongoing calendar of workshops, talks and learning sessions relevant to technology entrepreneurs and young businesses.

Riversands Incubation Hub

Riversands Incubation Hub is a large-scale business incubator established in 2015 through a partnership between Century Property Developments and National Treasury’s Jobs Fund. The Hub facilitates access to a rich range of entrepreneur development and business support services that committed, talented, entrepreneurs can harness to start and grow their businesses.

www.riversandsihub.co.za

If you would like me to add an incubator that is not on this list that you feel has had a significant impact on the lives & businesses of entrepreneurs please get in touch.

Mashudu Modau