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Emerging businesses laud MTN Business’ support

MTN Business demonstrated its credentials as an enabler of emerging businesses yet again last week, when several panellists and exhibitors at the Gartner Symposium Itxpo in Cape Town shared testimonials of how partnerships with established businesses such as MTN Business and its partners have catapulted the growth of their businesses.

Most of the exhibitors and techpreneurs were part of the Aspiring Innovators programme, a business development initiative co-sponsored by MTN Business and Gartner. The techpreneurs and start-ups showcased their solutions at the MTN Business stand at the event.

Aspiring Innovators who were showcased this year include Kriterion – a beta project developed by UJ students to automate and bring transparency to large tender processes; TUSE – a wireless mesh network solution for rural areas; Invoke – an easy to use EXCO reporting tool; provulo – a new business process management and administration platform; impression – digital document delivery and signature solutions; and iot.nxt – a platform to integrate IoT environments.

This year’s six successful startups in the programme had their own stands next to MTN Business on the floor of the Gartner Expo where they benefitted from increased exposure to delegates.

Sabelo Sibanda was one of these techpreneurs - he created the world’s second solar powered tablet PC – the first in Africa - and is currently setting up a manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth that is expected to create jobs for 61 semi-skilled workers.

His latest product called Tuse is an app that sends and receives video calls between devices even if they are not connected. Sibanda believes there has been real interest in his innovations.

“We’ve met every possible decision maker you could hope for, it’s a huge boost for a start-up like ourselves,” says Sibanda.

Wyzetalk was one of the companies that was represented in the panel discussion and one of last year’s Aspiring Innovators. Wyzetalk is a provider of enterprise collaboration software that improves employee communication and helps drive innovation. Wyzetalk CEO Gys Kappers told the audience: “We see a new willingness on the part of large enterprises to partner with smaller entities. Access to large enterprise and support from the industry has helped innovators and startups to grow.”

Roger Norton, Head of Technology at Domestly, told the audience that Domestly had a 40% increase in bookings after the brand exposure gained from winning the MTN Business App of the Year challenge this year. The startup went home with awards in two categories: App of the Year Overall Winner, as well as the Best Consumer App. The company offers on-demand cleaning services and connects cleaning professionals to homeowners.

“We pivoted our business focus, which coincided with our exposure at this event last year, and these factors contributed to our ability to grow 100% over the past eight months,” said Norton.

MTN Business sponsored the panel discussion, which was the highlight of the conference, in line with the organisation’s strategy of incubating innovation and bringing to market disruptive technologies that support local business growth.

Mandisa Ntloko, General Manager: Enterprise Marketing at MTN Business South Africa, said the programme both supports African technology start-ups and provides ITxpo delegates with access to innovative local technology providers. “This is aligned with MTN Business’s overall strategy to catalyse innovation and take innovation to market through its various development challenges and its new partnership programme. Having being a start up less than 22 years ago, MTN is acutely conscious of the challenges that emerging enterprises face.”

Val Moodley, Senior Manager and Head of Cloud Portfolio at MTN Business, said: “MTN Business, through its various innovation programmes, developer challenges and new partner ecosystem programme, was aiming to encourage innovation and partner with successful innovators. The idea is to create platforms created by corporates to allow young entrepreneurs to innovate, and test the solutions along with the corporate. Without the right culture and support in place across the ecosystem, you won’t achieve the impact and levels of innovation that are possible,” said Moodley.

Peter Alkema, Chief Information Officer of FNB Business Banking and one of the panelists, told the delegates that Africa needs more entrepreneurs like Sibanda who can meet these challenges, create jobs and businesses built on next generation technology which attracts and retains skills on the continent.

“Events such as the SA Innovation Summit help African entrepreneurs with ideas and networks to help start-ups grow from their garage to the globe. Initiatives such as the MTN Aspiring Innovators Programme showcase high potential, early stage businesses as they take their app from an interesting toy to a billion dollar tool.”

According to Gartner, CEOs globally are expecting an 80% uplift in digital revenue by 2020. Startups are disrupting industries using new technology while traditional enterprises are defending market share by adopting innovative practices to drive new business models.

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