TOURISM

Six-month programme done

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The first cohort of enterprises in the Tourism Enterprise Incubator operated by the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP) in the heart of Sandton’s business district has now completed the six-month incubation programme and a graduation ceremony was held on Thursday 17 March 2016 to celebrate the momentous occasion.

The TEP Tourism Enterprise Incubator, located within the Inanda Greens office complex in Wierda Valley on premises sponsored by international banking giant Credit Suisse, opened its doors on 1 August 2015 with an initial intake of 10 tourism SMME entrepreneurs. The facility has capacity to host up to 16 enterprises per intake and features fully kitted workstations, offices for mentors and facilitators, and meeting rooms.

The incubator, which operates from Monday to Friday, offers a basket of business development services comprising advisory services, coaching, mentoring, skills development training, market access facilitation, and access to finance through TEP’s own Ikwezi Tourism Facility which provides financing for up to R5 million.

The aim of an incubator is to provide support that can accelerate the growth of young and emerging enterprises and increase their chances of becoming sustainable.  

In his opening remarks, Brian Whittaker, the Chairman of the TEP Board of Directors stated: “The launch of the TEP Tourism Enterprise Incubator six months ago, which has culminated in the graduation ceremony that we are witnessingtoday, is a major achievement and an important milestone in TEP’s strategy to meet the needs of small businesses.  In order to succeed, small businesses need information, skills and finance. They need markets in which to sell their goods and services and they need advice on how to manage their businesses. The Tourism Enterprise Incubator provides the ideal platform for young entrepreneurs to learn, network, receive support and advice from highly qualified mentors and business experts. As a board, and given the enthusiasm and excitement with which our small businesses have embraced the incubator and the services it provides, our vision as a Board of Directors is for TEP to be able to develop similar facilities in the other provinces”.   

In her address, Morongoe Ramphele, the Deputy-Director General of the National Department of Tourism, who was speaking on behalf of the Minister of Tourism, congratulated the graduates for completing the incubation programme and expressed her appreciation of the valuable contribution to tourism SMME development made by TEP over the years. “The Tourism Enterprise Incubator that we are here to celebrate this afternoon is a valuable platform which is set to play an important role in TEP’s endeavour to provide impactful support that leads to demonstrable business growth and job creation by beneficiary SMMEs. As a department, we recognise and appreciate the invaluable contributions of private sector organisations such as Credit Suisse that continue to support the work of TEP through their ESD contributions”.

Speaking on behalf of the graduating incubatees, Mel T Tlhapi, the CEO of Mel Prods South Africa, a young and vibrant tour operator business based in Mofolo, Soweto, shared her personal experience and the impact that the incubator has had on her young enterprise. “I came into entrepreneurship from the background of being employed by a corporate entity and I had my doubts about being an entrepreneur. It took a couple of personal moves and mind shifts from my side and the guidance of my mentors at the incubator in the past five months for me to now realise that not even a call from the president of RSA would convince me to go for a job interview. I have gained so much confidence in myself as an entrepreneur and so much business knowledge has been embedded in my mind that I now think like a millionaire. I fear nothing in business anymore. As the first group of young entrepreneurs to benefit from the programme, we are now a strong network and we will continue to support each other to grow our individual businesses”.      

According to Dr Salifou Siddo, the TEP Chief Executive, the incubator initiative forms an integral part of TEP’s continuously evolving strategy to provide relevant and quality business development support services to our clients. “We are indeed pleased with the achievements of the first intake, and are in the process of identifying and recruiting the new incubatees for the period April 2016 to September 2016”.

A monitoring and evaluation mechanism is built into the TEP incubator model to track impact in terms jobs created as well as turnover growth generated by incubatees. An additional feature of the TEP incubation model is the aftercare programme that allows TEP to continue to monitor SMMEs after they have graduated out of the incubator.

 

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