The power of incubation: How Cisco helps empower SA’s aspiring entrepreneurs and businesses

Clayton Naidoo, Senior Director; Country Digital Acceleration at Cisco Africa.

Clayton Naidoo, Senior Director; Country Digital Acceleration at Cisco Africa.

Published Aug 14, 2023


By Clayton Naidoo, Senior Director; Country Digital Acceleration at Cisco Africa.

South Africa's business landscape is characterized by a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.

The role of small, micro, and medium enterprises (SMMEs) is particularly significant, as they contribute to overall economic growth, job creation, and the country's transformation through digitization.

As SMMEs expand and thrive, they contribute to reducing the unemployment rate and providing livelihoods for a growing number of people.

The spirit of entrepreneurship

While there are immense opportunities, there are also challenges that entrepreneurs and SMMEs face, such as access to funding, regulatory hurdles, and skills development.

Addressing these challenges is essential to sustain the growth of South Africa's entrepreneurial ecosystem. The sector directly generates a third of value added in the country and accounts for 30% of total employment, 32% of all waged employment, and half of waged work in the formal private sector.

But it’s not always smooth sailing as many enterprises suffer from setbacks, particularly from a technological perspective. While entrepreneurs may have an award-winning idea, they often lack the technical expertise to turn that idea into business in a digital-first economy.

If SMMEs are to succeed, they must know how to leverage technology and understand the solutions upon which their products and services are built. Some foundational knowledge on applications, cybersecurity and the cloud is key so that they can offer a great experience for their customers in the digital space.

Watch the video below to find out more:

Going to the EDGE

The South African government has recognized the importance of SMMEs and entrepreneurship in driving economic development. Various initiatives, programs, and funding opportunities are aimed at supporting small businesses and fostering innovation.

However, an incubation hub is only as good as the activity and motivation it incites. Cisco EDGE partners are kept on their toes and are required to submit proof of their results within 90 days. Whether it’s a proposal or a working prototype, the goal is for partners to work toward a true value proposition. One that is the foundation for sustainable revenue and business practices.

Since the establishment of the first Cisco EDGE (Experience, Design, Go-to-Market, Earn) Centre in 2018, we have expanded our footprint across South Africa, with each centre incorporating a specific industry theme based on its location.

Funded through the Cisco Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme and adjacent to the Cisco Networking Academy, EDGE Centres are a testament to Cisco’s commitment to supporting South Africa’s economic development, enabling businesses and Cisco partners through technology, and contributing to job creation.

Cisco EDGE Centres distinguish themselves by offering specific technology use cases. Above and beyond traditional workspaces, EDGE Centres are a space in which partners can experience industry-leading Cisco technologies and utilise their existing certifications.

They are a space in which partners can engage with Cisco experts and technicians across the ecosystem. Leveraging the power of Cisco technology, EDGE partners can develop cooperative relationships with each other, fast-tracking KPIs and promoting agility throughout industry.

To the future

Over the next few years, we will continue to witness the effects of digital transformation on South Africa and the enterprises that emerge because of it. As the world evolves, thanks to business trends like hybrid work and sustainability, inclusive and tech-driven models powered by Cisco technologies and certifications become a high-value strategy.

EDGE Centres put that value front and centre, working with partners to incubate and accelerate their progress to become industry leaders of tomorrow.

To find out more about Cisco EDGE Centres, or how you and your business can become an EDGE partner, visit [email protected]