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.

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