GOVERNMENT funders say there is plenty of money available in South Africa to finance the development of innovations, but entrepreneurs believe that for them, accessing this funding is almost impossible.
This was the outcome of discussions at one of the first workshops held by the eMonti Science and Technology Park (eMonti STP) at the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) on Friday, May 04.
All five panelists at the event which sought to introduce entrepreneurs in the Eastern Cape region to funding options available through government institutions - TIA, NEF, ECDC, IDC through SPII and SEDA - agreed they could be funding many more projects than they were at present, but all felt there were too few good ideas being presented to them.
Zoleka Ngcete, business development manager at the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), said: We are losing a lot of our ideas to other countries and we end up purchasing them back as finished products. Organisations such as TIA are trying to ensure these ideas are grown and produced in our country.”
However Pretoria-based entrepreneur on the panel, Luvo Gwiliza, CEO of information technology company Afrocentric, believes that current requirements to access government and private equity funding are far too onerous on most entrepreneurs and many ideas are either lost to South Africa or overtaken by market developments before any funding is released.
Workshop moderator and CEO of Pretoria’s The Innovation Hub, McLean Sibanda, agreed with Gwiliza, saying: “Even though most funding institutions cite a three-month turnaround period for the release of funds, the reality is that most entrepreneurs have to wait eight months before being able to access any funding to get their project off the ground.”
ECDC’s manager of short-term development loans Mninawa Nomnga said that “loans fail when you fund a venture using the wrong funding instrument”. He believes it is time for funders to begin looking at new ways of funding entrepreneurs so that many more ideas could get off the drawing board and into the marketplace.
According to eMonti STP manager: community marketing and networking Ludwe Fani, eMonti STP’s main aim is to increase the wealth of the local economy by promoting a culture of innovation amongst its associated businesses all within the framework of an internationally recognised science and technology park.
“To enable this, eMonti STP aims to stimulate and manage the flow of knowledge and technology amongst the region’s universities, businesses, and government; it aims to facilitate the growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes by providing high quality space and facilities and it will provide a number of other value-added services,” she explained.
Friday’s stakeholder event is an example of a value-added service offered to East London entrepreneurs to help them grow their business in the area.
Issued by eMonti Science and Technology Park
For more information please contact:
Ms Ludwe Fani, Manager: Community Marketing and Networking
Tel: 27 43 702 8200 Cell: 27 72 027 5904
Email: Ludwe@emontistp.co.za; www.elidz.co.za