4IRI collaborates with Cisco opening SMME incubation hub in the Western Cape

Cisco in partnership with Fourth Industrial Revolution Incubation (4IRI), today at a hybrid event launched an EDGE Centre in the Western Cape. EDGE stands for Experience, Design, GTM (Go to Market) and Earn. The objective is help develop small and medium businesses in the digital age, speed up their entry to market and, as a result, create new jobs for the local economy.

Cisco has a long-standing commitment to South Africa and to supporting the country’s National Development Plan. The establishment of the EDGE Centres is a key pillar of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program, launched in South Africa in 2019, with the aim to help accelerate digitization and make the benefits of the Internet and technology available to broad groups of society.

The EDGE Center in Cape Town is the third in the country and follows similar initiatives in Pretoria and the Dube Trade Port in KwaZulu-Natal. It provides state-of-the-art Cisco communication and collaboration technology for local SMMEs, alongside training and enablement programmes. The centre will also connect SMME’s with global Cisco experts who can help them develop business ideas and concepts that reflect the most pressing challenges of today’s digital world.

“The centre will see Cisco and 4IRI share their business knowledge and help develop small and medium businesses for the digital age. It will not only help speed up SMME’s entry to market but will also contribute to creating much-needed jobs in the Western Cape. We have developed this centre to provide SMMEs with an innovative space where they can grow and develop using world-class support,” says Charmaine Houvet, Public Policy Director for Africa at Cisco.

“The collaboration with Cisco South Africa will help us assist and enable SMMEs in the Western Cape to participate meaningfully in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We will help these budding inventors and entrepreneurs develop into successful leaders of industry and create an enabling environment for the youth of tomorrow to be part of the information economy,” says Naomi Musi, CEO at 4IRI

The EDGE Centre is expected to create a long-lasting ripple effect felt throughout the region that extends beyond just the SMMEs. It is an investment in education and skills development that will see more opportunities be unlocked by communities across the Western Cape.

Speaking at the launch event in Cape Town, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, the Minister of Small Business Development said: “We must find ways to dismantle this persisting structure of our economy. Small businesses and the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) as the economy for the future, present an opportunity to transform this economy. 4IRI partners, Seda and Cisco’s progressive collaboration in providing incubation services to SMMEs in the networking, cybersecurity, fintech and surtech sectors is commendable. It is through partnerships with organisations like 4IRI that we can hold our young entrepreneurs by hand, nurture and support them to grow to be sustainable businesses that contribute to our country’s GDP.

“Our intention as government is to place small businesses in South Africa as the anchor for economic growth and greater transformation because unlocking opportunities for small businesses in the value chains of the highly monopolised sectors of our economy.”

Cisco plans to expand the reach of the EDGE centres and to establish similar centres in Limpopo and North West. The centres will specialize in topics that are relevant to the local economy, such as smart ports, Internet of Things (IoT) in agriculture and smart cities

“The concept of EDGE Centres is about more than the technology being put in place. It creates connection for the community where they will have access to information resources. It also forges opportunities to be part of the digital economy and get much-needed skills for digitisation. And, finally, the centre is an all-inclusive environment that provides equal access to all members of the community,” concludes Houvet.

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