Cisco has launched a R10-million incubation hub in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa - the second business development resource in the country after the first was launched in Pretoria in 2018.
Last week the company also launched its first hub in East Africa, a KES69-million centre in Kenya, hosted at the University of Nairobi.
General Manager (GM) for Cisco East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, David Bunei is quoted as saying: "We are proud to be part of the Kenyan economic growth through creation of jobs and creating a business environment where entrepreneurs can thrive. The centre is targeting to enable small medium business to accelerate their growth through access technologies that are globally competitive."
"Cisco recognises that Kenya's Big Four Agenda and one of the drivers of this is technology as the country accelerates towards achieving vision 2030. We want to contribute to the country's job creation efforts via support to small medium businesses," said Bunei.
The company said the Cisco Edge Incubation Centre in Durban is part of its commitment "to action priorities of South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 in terms of creating jobs, enhancing skills development and boosting economic growth."
In December 2018 Cisco announced its commitment to prepare 1-million people in Africa for jobs in the digital economy, part of a broader plan to equip 10-million people worldwide.
The in-kind value amounts to around US$1.5-billion, the company confirmed, and will be carried out over the next five years.
South African Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said her department is in talks with Cisco to possibly officially support the company's Global Citizen festival and its training objectives.
However, no specific dates or time frames were mentioned as to when the commitment could become official.
Durban's hub is based at Dube Trade Port, is a smart building with Cisco technology that offers complete business facilities including workspaces with high-speed broadband connectivity, video conferencing and collaboration platforms, as well as boardroom and training facilities.
In addition, SMMEs will be able to connect with global Cisco experts, to support businesses ideas and concepts to ready these for the digital economy.
Cisco referred to research firm In On Africa's SME Landscape Report 2018/2019 which stated that the small business sector is a critical component of the national economy, as it is a major source of employment that drives economic growth.
"However, the report - which surveyed over 1,000 SME owners - also revealed that small businesses were young, vulnerable and in need of support. A key stumbling block was access to funding and access to market. 52% of SME owners admitted that they needed a lot of assistance to reach markets as various industries were extremely competitive. As a result, many were failing in its first three years of operation," according to Cisco.
Clayton Naidoo, General Manager for Cisco Sub-Saharan Africa, said, "Our goal is to enable SMMEs to accelerate their growth by ensuring they get access to world class technology. We are living in a world that is changing faster than ever imagined and we are inspired by the prospect of an economy with abundant jobs, a place where entrepreneurs can thrive."
"With technology comes many opportunities, especially in Africa, the fastest growing region in the world. Cisco recognises Africa's talent and we want to continue being an enabler of tech ecosystems across the continent. With our resources, SMMEs are not only able to grow but also stay competitive."
The centre will provide SMMEs the opportunity to employ graduates from its Networking Academy (NetAcad) program to give them workplace experience.
NetAcad is the world's largest classroom giving students hands-on digital skills training for in-demand careers. For 20 years, NetAcad has changed the lives of 9.2 million students in 180 countries. In South Africa alone, more than 62,000 students (29% of whom are female) have been trained with technical skills.