Local tech startups are playing an increasingly important role in driving economic growth in South Africa. These startups are developing innovative solutions to address some of the country’s most pressing challenges, such as unemployment, poverty, and inequality.
One way that tech startups are contributing to economic growth is by creating jobs. According to a report by the South African Startup Ecosystem Report, as of May 2022 the 490 tech startups in South Africa had created over 11,000 jobs. This is a significant number, considering that the country’s unemployment rate is currently at 32.9%.
In addition to creating jobs, the report also highlights how tech startups are helping to boost the South African economy by generating revenue. In 2022, South African tech startups raised over US$900 million in funding. This funding is being used to develop new products and services, expand into new markets.
The report also revealed that over 25 percent of South African tech startups have undergone some form of acceleration or incubation. These types of support services are very important for the development and resilience of startups. Institutions like Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Johannesburg are fundamental to this. They provide startups and entrepreneurs with the tools and support they need to grow and scale their businesses through its industry-leading Enterprise Development Model that is focused on developing skills for the digital economy. However, to scale and assist startups to expand into new markets local hubs need to partner with international accelerators like Dogpatch labs who provide a similar range of support services in the Ireland ecosystem.
This is why opportunities like the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023 are critical for the development of the South African tech ecosystem.The main problem with a lot of these startup support programs is the lack of accessibility to startups outside the main cities and their lack of diversity. The report revealed that less than 15 percent of the startups that have undergone acceleration or incubation have a female co-founder.
However, the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023 strongly encourages applications from women, young entrepreneurs and persons from disadvantaged communities. It provides 5 tech startups with up to €10 000 in grant funding and an opportunity to expand into new international markets.
In its pilot year of 2022, the Irish Tech Challenge also provided support and a networking trip to Ireland to 5 startups in various tech sectors. Some of the successful technopreneurs included Mukundi Lambani of Ambani Africa, an EdTech company that uses technology to enable various solutions to public and private beneficiaries. Sabelo Sibanda, founder of MLX Ventures, which offers AI-powered solutions to businesses said; “Participating in the Irish Tech Challenge has been truly transformative for me. I got to be exposed to the Irish Tech ecosystem and culture. This allowed me to grow my business, as a result.” These testimonials by some of the alumni of the Irish Tech Challenge, highlight just how beneficial this program is.
Furthermore, the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa also brings together governments, (Embassy of Ireland, Department of Science & Innovation (DSI) and the Technology Innovation Agency-TIA), international and local accelerators (Dogpatch labs and Tshimologong). This creates an incredible value proposition for this challenge which leverages various expertise from different stakeholders.
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