Bandwidth Barn, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Cape IT Initiative, will be hosting a three day African Incubator Network (AIN) training workshop in March 2011. The mission of the Bandwidth Barn is to fast track the pace of business growth in the ICT sector in the Western Cape. This workshop will extend the company’s reach further into Africa. Bandwidth Barn encourages innovation and provides ongoing training and support to help clients to overcome the entry barriers to start-up, survival and growing their businesses. Managers of business incubators from Africa and South Africa will be developing the skills required to run a successful organisation at the workshop.
“The Bandwidth Barn workshop will host around 40 participants from South Africa and across the continent,” says Chris Vermeulen, Bandwidth Barn General Manager. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to host the AIN workshops in Cape Town, which play an important role in ensuring the managers of African business incubators are able to apply global best practice successfully within their specific operational context.”
The material delivered at the workshops has been developed by infoDev, a research, capacity building and advisory services program operating within World Bank Group structures. infoDev’s global business incubation network reaches close to 300 business incubators and more than 20,000 small and medium enterprises, and has helped create over 200,000 jobs across 87 developing countries. infoDev’s expertise has played an important role in supporting the establishment of AIN, a network of African business incubators which facilitates the development of innovative small business on the continent.
“Small businesses are central to Africa’s ability to reduce poverty levels and achieve sustainable development,” says Michael Reddy, AIN Chairperson. “Business incubators play a crucial role in this context, acting as very important conduits of strategic and practical knowledge for emerging entrepreneurs. The function of the AIN workshop is to ensure that the managers of African business incubators gain access to global best practice, and are then able to work within a professional collaborative environment to ensure they apply these skills successfully within their specific local context.”
The AIN workshop will cover three of the eleven state-of-the-art infoDev training modules, including incubator planning, financing and incubator, and marketing and stakeholder engagement.
“Business incubation has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of creating sustainable small and medium sized businesses, which is why it receives strong support from governments globally,” says Dr Jill Sawers, consultant to infoDev, expert on innovation and incubation. “There is a lot of small business development information available, both codified and tacit and organisations such as AIN and infoDev facilitate the transfer of this information to practitioners in the field. This is done via facilitating community of practice on-line forums, training programmes, and conferences. This ensures the relevant knowledge is formalised locally so that Africans can play a direct role in developing solutions that cater to the challenges of business on the continent.”
Once incubator managers have completed the March AIN session they will gain further opportunities to focus on specific modules at the infoDev global forum in Helsinki later this year. The forum brings together government policy makers, entrepreneurs and incubator managers on a global scale.
“Helsinki is a good platform for the sharing of best practices, for creating business links and for creating space to participate in the development of government policies and practices,” adds Reddy. “After Helsinki, AIN’s aim is to ensure that the master trainers that have been through the workshops are able to transfer their knowledge widely within their regions of operation. Success in this area means we will be offering very strong support to existing government business incubator programmes and investments.”
By Angela Meadon