My head is spinning completely after attending the bridging course of the VeloCITI program. Out of all the companies applying (20 odd) who were short listed to attend the bridging course, I’ve made the cut with 14 other exciting new companies who will be given the chance to build their businesses from the ground up with professional help.
If you don’t know what VeloCITI is all about, it’s the business incubation program sponsored by local government and run by CITI (Cape Information Technology Initiative). It aims to take start-up technology based companies and grow them with the hope of increasing employment and growing the local economy.
A well known graduate of the programme, Rafiq Phillips was recently seen on Carte Blanche discussing web 2.0. Rafiq made a name for himself with his start-up venture, i-drive and is still out there creating buzz and achieving great things. Other companies like Red Button, one of the winning companies from the 2007 program are making it big with their wireless hotspots.
One of the other winning companies, Silulo Ulutho Technologies received a special award for the difference they are making by providing IT resources and training in Khayelitsha.
Luvuyo Rani, MD of Silulo Ulutho Technologies. Luvuyo started his own business three years ago in Khayelitsha, selling new and refurbished computers to schools and educators in the area, and eventually established an Internet cafÃ©, training centre and office in a new Khayelitsha mall.
Rani has created employment for eith staff at Silulo Ulutho and currently has 50 fulltime students on his computer training courses. He has featured recently in local news articles and radio stations, and is accredited by the City of Cape Townâ€™s business voucher program to offer mentoring to smaller, emerging businesses.
Having been accepted to be part of a program of this nature is a great honour and it shows me that though things may be looking bad on many fronts, alot of good work is being done and Government is playing a role in development.
The Team responsible for taking these young IT companies through their paces comprises of the Project Manager, CITI(Tamzin Martin), The Lecturers/Mentors Cape Venture Partners(Tony Mallum & David Murray), Peer Power’s(Mignon), all Speer headed by CITI’s Executive Director, Viola Manuel.
As those who attended to 2 day bridging course will tell you, we will be interacting and learning from a great team with invaluable knowledge and experience under their belts. They are an inspiring group and have already made a huge impact on all who will be attending the course.
The first 2 days gave us an overview of what lies ahead in the next 8 months. We were taken on a summarized journey through the areas of business strategy, USP’s, Sales & Marketing, Hiring & Firing, Finance and investment and a whole range of other crucial areas of our businesses which will need to be streamlined and kicked into gear in the year ahead.
At the end of the year a few of the top performing companies will stand in line to win some great prizes to further boost their businesses. Those on the course will be given training, mentorship, business resources and virtual offices at the Bandwidth Barn.
All of this is being made possible by funding provided by DTI(The Department of Trade & Industry). One up for the government! They have chosen a wide mix of companies from all different sectors of society and racial groups which I’m sure will create a dynamic environment for the 15 companies throughout the next 8 months.
I’ll be posting about the program going forward and sharing my experiences with you all. As you can see in my previous posting, the program as already influenced my idea of what I need to do going forward.