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Business incubators are often touted as a great way to get a business idea off the ground, or to really commercialise your solution.
By its very nature, an incubator is an organisation – typically made up of companies but sometimes also government representatives. These organisations aim to help startup and early-stage companies grow at a quicker pace.
Incubators offer networking opportunities so you can pick the brain of someone else who may have already dealt with a challenge you're facing, and also often provide easier access to investors. Other opportunities include a quicker route to tools and prospects within government and your relevant market.
MTN Business Group's GM for Small and Medium Enterprise Channels, Omotayo Ojutalayo says, "The beauty of incubation programmes lie in the ability to get SME's to learn from other businesses. That way, some lessons learned by bigger businesses are passed on without you having to go through them as an SME."
In South Africa, there are a range of incubators, but one worth noting is National Gazelles. It is a 3 year acceleration programme which takes SMEs on a journey of success. The programme was recently featured on Business Day TV – click here to see the interview.
40 finalists who are identified as high potential entrepreneurs are selected to become a National Gazelle. The benefits of being selected include customised business mentorship, access to a broad library of resources, facilitated access to funding as well as access to special products and solutions from National Gazelles partners.
Customized services are a key feature of the programme, because there is no 'one size fits all' solution for success. The solutions tailored for each entrepreneur are based on a detailed understanding of his/her business and goals. A 'gap analysis' is conducted for selected candidates in order to identify and prioritize what is needed for growth and success.
Often the benefits of signing up with an incubator means that the entrepreneur has access to training and skills. There is no point in having a great idea and not knowing how to commercialise it, or how to budget and develop a business plan.
These are often the obstacles preventing an entrepreneur from accessing venture capital and moving to the next phase of growth.
Businesses in the following industries are currently being considered for the programme:
Agriculture and Agri-processing
Energy and the Green Economy
Health and Bio-Sciences
Information and Communication Technology
Media, Marketing and Creative
Mining, Metals and Engineering
Transport and Logistics
If your business is not part of any of the above industries, applications will still be accepted and considered. Applications are currently open – click here for the details.
Find more details on how to grow your business with National Gazelles and MTN Business here: www.nationalgazelles.org.za.
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