SABTIA Celebrating Its Official Launch

SABTIA celebrated its official relaunch at an event held at the Gallagher Convention Centre, on 19 April 2018. The launch was hosted in partnership with The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), and the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD).

SABTIA has been mandated by the government to address the challenges in the local business incubation and acceleration community. It aims to do this by:

  • Enabling supportive activities for incubators;
  • Improving capacities and capabilities within incubators;
  • Creating a platform for collaboration between private and public stakeholders across the region, to address key incubation challenges;
  • Forming strategic and focused partnerships with the likes of the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) in the US and the EBN Innovation Network in Europe, to localise global content and best practice ;
  • Building a more inclusive incubation and acceleration ecosystem, to better serve SMMEs of all complexities, not only those in the BSM 5-7 category, but also businesses in the lower sophistication BSM 1-4 category.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, said incubation and acceleration programmes are particularly important in developing nations, to accelerate economic growth and transformation. She said her department has recognised the need to develop a new policy framework for re-energising and repositioning business incubators/accelerators to meet the challenges of national development.

In his State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the establishment of a R1 billion fund for primarily township businesses, as the government continues its push to empower informal SMMEs. SABTIA aims to complement those efforts through incubator and accelerator certification, formal training, measurement and consulting.


“Many critics have argued that business incubation has limited success in Africa. But the challenges we face are because we lack coordination and haven’t localised global models to suit our unique conditions. We need to improve capacity and capability within our incubators, and develop effective and distinctive sector and  regional ecosystems to support them,” says Zaid Mohidin, Chairman of SABTIA.

He adds: “We need entrepreneurial ecosystem builders to come together to make a change in Southern Africa. We need to be generous with the learning experience, for the betterment of incubators, for the betterment of entrepreneurs, and for the betterment of the economy.”

By working closely with its stakeholders, which include public and private sector organisations, service providers, consultants, educational institutions and the media, SABTIA plans to:

  • Develop an accredited network of incubators;
  • Define a professional code of conduct;
  • Develop good practice standards;
  • Set benchmarking methodologies;
  • Serve as an entry point for international incubation into South Africa;
  • Equip incubators and accelerators with the tools, knowledge and networks they need to provide quality services and support to SMMEs.

Business incubation is a mechanism used across the world to support and grow SMMEs. It entails ‘incubator companies’ helping early stage companies to overcome the challenges of starting a business. This is done through a range of support mechanisms, including subsidised office space, coaching and mentoring, training, funding, and support for market expansion.

Next week, SABTIA will lead a delegation to Dallas, Texas, to sign a strategic partnership with InBIA. The partnership is geared at developing  innovative “co-incubation” models to address challenges of accessing global markets (smart take-off and soft-landing), innovation and investment into Southern Africa.

SABTIA membership is free for students and faculties. Individuals and incubators/accelerators can choose from a number of different membership options.

To find out more about SABTIA, click here.

SABTIA-InBIA Global Collaboration

With the industry entering a new cycle we see more and more countries not only consolidating their ecosystems but more importantly, ensuring that appropriate local models are developed in alignment with global standards.

SABTIA (Southern African Business and Technology Incubation Association) will be leading a delegation to craft a strategic partnership with InBIA (International Business Innovation Association) for the following objectives:

  • Global Best Practice in order to contextualise and develop the appropriate incubation and acceleration models for Southern Africa and
  • To address Smart take-off and Soft-landing as a platform to scale into the respective countries.

SABTIA was established to…

While South Africa is regarded as the entrepreneurial leader in sub-Saharan Africa, it’s weakest link in terms of its entrepreneurial ecosystem is start-up skills.  It poses the question of… what skills can be taught, to improve the appetite for entrepreneurship?

Statistics South Africa released the latest results of its Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2017, which showed that, apart from the overall unemployment rate reaching a 13 year high of 27,7%, the youth (ages 15 – 34 years) unemployment rate also increased to 38,6%. The increase in unemployment is evidence that there a lack of start-up skills in the country, and calls for an even more focused approach to building an entrepreneurial ethos – from grassroots level.

The number of SMMEs in South Africa increased by 11.2% year-on-year from 2.23 million in 201 to 2.48 million in 2017. Over the same period, the number of formal sector SMMEs increased by 11.6%, while informal sector SMMEs increased by 11.7%. Some of the growth in SMMEs may reflect survivalist operations resulting from economic conditions.

South Africa is in dire need of providing the appropriate support structures in uplifting the potential of entrepreneurs and SMME’s, to a level of independence, self-sufficiency and sustainable productivity.

Business Incubation worldwide has been an established mechanism through which entrepreneurs and SMME’s could be supported and grown. Incubation is geared at assisting early stage companies to overcome start-up challenges. This is achieved through providing a variety of interventions such as subsidized office space, coaching, mentoring, training, and support for market access.

The incubation fraternity has been fast evolving with a number of trends being noticed. Incubators, apart from being support mechanisms, have also evolved into growth acceleration mechanisms. As well as new business models, such as corporate incubators and enterprise development incubators.

There has however been no co-ordination between local incubators, as well as between incubators and international organisations. Better regulation and support of incubators is critical for growth and effectiveness of entrepreneurs and SMME’s.

With this being said, it is evident that there is a need for bringing all incubators under one platform – in response to this need, SABTIA was set up.

The Southern African Business and Technology Incubation Association (SABTIA) was initially set up in 2005 to serve as the incubator industry standards, practitioner and members association, by providing the dissemination of knowledge, skills and expertise to all incubators nationally, continentally and internationally through partnerships with stakeholders like STP.

SABTIA’s vision is to serve as an association that advocates all incubators, accelerators, educational institutions and developmental stakeholders’ credibility through education and consolidation of training, certification programmes, benchmarking and standard codes of good practice, networks and facilitation of events, shared services and innovative solutions.