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Good News for Eastern Cape Green Economy Entrepreneurs

UDDI chief executive officer, Patricia Dlamini and The Innovation Hub chief executive officer, McClean Sibanda seal the deal with a handshake after signing an agreement to collaboratively working towards boosting SMMEs working with low-carbon technologies in Eastern Cape.

If you are an entrepreneur or a small business experimenting with the development of low-carbon technologies in the Eastern Cape and the Nelson Mandela Bay area, you could soon be the recipient of financial, incubation and other business support services facilitated by the Uitenhage-Despatch Development Initiative (UDDI).

Qualifying Eastern Cape small businesses and entrepreneurs will benefit from financial, technical and business advisory including mentoring, proof of concept links to other local and international financing institutions and physical incubation.

This is a spin-off of a recently signed agreement between the UDDI and The Innovation Hub Management Company which recently launched the Climate Innovation Centre of South Africa (CIC). The CIC will promote and develop entrepreneurs, small businesses and community-based organisations to participate in the Green Economy. The aim is to achieve a low-carbon economy and sustainable green jobs.

Qualifying small businesses and entrepreneurs should benefit from financial, technical and business advisory including mentoring, proof of concept links to other local and international financing institutions and physical incubation.

“In terms of the agreement, the CIC together with UDDI will conduct SMME recruitment, technical and business support, facilitate the provision of office space for SMMEs, training, finance, commercialisation as well as legal and intellectual property services".

“UDDI, as the “provincial host partner” of the CIC will promote the call for proposals and the preliminary selection of participating SMMEs, provide a database of suitable technical and business mentors, office space, meeting facilities, identifying training service providers and facilities, identifying funding opportunities and local market opportunities as well as legal and intellectual property interventions” says UDDI Chief Executive Patricia Dlamini.

Dlamini says the UDDI’s Nelson Mandela Bay Science and Technology Park, which will be housing the incubates, boasts of an array of innovative features including 3,800sqm of interactive exhibits updated with new and developing science and technology trends, a 150-seater auditorium as well as classrooms and chemistry laboratories.

“The Science and Technology Park is prepared to service all entrepreneurial needs, which are inclusive but not limited, to office facilities and training facilities as well as the ability to work with The Innovation Hub’s CIC to create a local pipeline of SMMEs in the Green Economy.

“In preparation for the interventions, we have since had engagements with the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), who serve as key strategic players in both the environmental and SMME support,” Dlamini explains.

The Innovation Hub has also partnered with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the administrator of the Green Fund to extend the service offerings of the CIC. This would include the development of SMMEs in the Green Economy with the aim of developing a pipeline of sustainable green businesses and job creation in the country.

“To this end, The Innovation Hub has partnered with UDDI which is also working on the promotion of the Green Economy through SMME development in Uitenhage and the greater Eastern Cape region. It is envisaged through the partnership, SMMEs within the CIC programme will form a pipeline to apply for finance from the DBSA Green Fund.

“The signing of the agreement underlines the commitment of both institutions to attract and develop SMMEs in the green economy sector to increase our global competitiveness and achieve common goals of promoting green growth, job creation and advancing to an inclusive green economy, says The Innovation Hub Chief Executive Officer, McClrean Sibanda.

“Dlamini says the collaboration with The Innovation Hub is a great opportunity for the UDDI not only to strengthen and coordinate the respective efforts of the CIC; but also to educate and build the capacity of disadvantaged groups. This would further help in assisting UDDI with developing SMMEs on environmental sustainability and the low carbon economy, combat climate change, promote clean and efficient energy as well as protect the environment and preserve natural resources.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa views the green economy as a sustainable development path based on addressing the interdependence between economic growth, social protection and the natural ecosystem.

The country’s approach is to ensure that the green economy programmes are to be supported by a practical and implementable action plan which highlights the importance of building on existing best processes, programmes, initiatives and indigenous knowledge in key sectors. This should help “toward a resource efficient, low carbon and pro-employment growth path” and a recognition that government alone cannot manage and fund a just transition to a green economy. The private sector and civil society must play a fundamental role.

The Innovation Hub, based in Pretoria, is Africa’s first internationally accredited Science Park, a leading knowledge-extensive business cluster in the country and a full member of the International Association of Science Parks.

(Source: MyPE)