While the government and business struggles to get a handle on how best to support South Africa’s dwindling, but essential SMMME sector that has especially been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, some organisations are taking matters into their own hands,
This year, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Black Umbrellas (BU) will partner to provide technical and technological support to small black-owned businesses in the country.
According to the organisations, they will identify businesses for new or existing technologies may be manufactured in the country, to meet supply chain requirements. The two groups will also find other organisations or government departments which would be keen to provide funding for any joint initiatives which come to fruition due to this new deal.
The CSIR is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa, while the BU which is linked to the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, aims is to provide funding, resources, training and support to emerging black SMMEs.
The two organisations recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) late last year on the collaboration.
“The partnership, which comes at a time when South Africa’s economic recovery is under the spotlight, seeks to accelerate entrepreneurial growth and empowering small black-owned businesses by providing them with access to CSIR-developed technologies, as well as research and development infrastructure to improve their business endeavours,” the said ina statement.
Most small businesses continue to suffer from the impact of the pandemic, and this picture is not likely to change anytime soon. They are in dire need to stay afloat, which the CSIR and BU hope they help with.
“Black Umbrellas partners with entrepreneurs, enterprises, investors and communities, creating dynamic models to catalyse unique developmental and organisational solutions in order to drive an inclusive and sustainable economic future. The organisation focuses on developing qualifying black-owned businesses to a level where they can gain meaningful access to procurement, finance and networks and then facilitating access to these opportunities,” the statement reads.
BU believes that this supports objectives of the CSIR strategy, which supports public/private sector collaboration to develop and localise technologies to advance the country’s industrial development. But it needs to be done in such a way that socioeconomic prosperity prospers.
“… we are proud to join hands with BU in one of the key government objectives, which is to support small businesses in a bid to revive the South African economy and create jobs. This partnership with BU is a gateway to ensuring that we respond to our mandate of making a lasting impact on various lives through innovation, research and development, and consequently using sustainable methods to boost South Africa’s economy,” said CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini.
While Mark Frankel, who is the CEO of Black Umbrellas, said: “Our vision is to be a valued partner in enabling equal and sustainable economic access and participation. We do this by inspiring, developing, mobilising and connecting entrepreneurial and innovative people, solutions and resources to effect positive economic and social change.”
He believes the CSIR is a key to unlocking South Africa’s future economic growth, especially the digital economy.