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OPINION: 22 on Sloane Campus welcomes IBM SA


JOHANNESBURG - IBM is partnering with 22 on Sloane to launch its entrepreneurship programme. Founded in 1911, IBM is a US multinational technology company headquartered in New York, and has operations in more than 170 countries.

Affectionately known as “Big Blue”, IBM is a pioneering industry legend and manufactures and markets computer hardware, middleware, software, and provides hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology.

Ziaad Suleman, the Chief Operations Officer of IBM South Africa. Photo: Supplied

The company also holds the record for most US patents generated for 25 consecutive years. These include the ATM, the PC, the floppy disk, the hard disk drive and the magnetic strip card, to name just a few.

IBM is one of 30 companies included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and one of the world’s largest employers, with some 380000 staff members. Known as “IBMers”, they’ve been awarded five Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, 10 National Medals of Technology and five National Medals of Science.

As a company that is undeniably one of the world’s front runners in the creation, development and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies, it gives me great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to IBM as our entrepreneurial pilot programme partner, from all at the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa’s 22 on Sloane Start-up Campus.

At the launch of this exciting initiative, Ziaad Suleman, the chief operations officer of IBM South Africa, wasted no time in encouraging and motivating the selected tech start-ups to embrace this once in a lifetime opportunity, which will support their next level of growth and enable them to enter new markets and regions.

As a technology leader, IBM helps boost capabilities in South Africa by developing local skills and providing access to cloud, analytics and big data technologies to solve some of the country’s most complex problems and change lives.

IBM’s next era is all about the power of cognitive solutions delivered to transform industries. Cognitive systems augment human intelligence, allowing faster and more informed decisions.

Through their Enterprise Development Programme (EDP), IBM selects aspirant entrepreneurs or start-ups in the ICT space with the base capability to be endowed with high-end solution/content execution capability, via a range of support mechanisms, such as incubation, finance, coaching, mentoring, access to markets and business processes.

Since the inception of EDP, IBM has provided entrepreneurs and small businesses with development support, growth investment and access to IBM products and technology aligned to the life stage of selected business in line with our continued commitment to drive development within the South African economy.

IBM has always been a proud African techno-economic partner and as part of their continued commitment to entrepreneurs and start-ups, the Digital-Nation Africa (D-NA) programme supports their focus on building digital, cloud, and cognitive IT skills to help support a 21st century workforce in South Africa.

Through D-NA, IBM is contributing to building a country of digital innovators by providing digital skills to South Africans through a free, Watson-powered skills platform.

D-NA is designed to help raise overall digital literacy, increase the number of skilled developers and enable entrepreneurs to grow businesses around the new solutions.

This accessible online learning environment delivered on the IBM Cloud, provides a vast range of enablement resources, ranging from basic IT literacy to highly sought-after advanced IT skills including programming, cybersecurity, data science and agile methodologies, as well as important business skills like critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

In 2015, IBM partnered with the City of Johannesburg and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to apply technologies to help the city deliver on its air quality management plan.

In the same year, it announced a R700 million investment over the next 10 years, via a broad-based black economic empowerment equivalent programme.

In 2016, the IBM Research Lab opened its doors in Johannesburg, partnering with entrepreneurs, developers and business to develop commercially-viable solutions that spark business opportunities. In 2019, it aims to launch its IX Digital Lab to drive transformation projects.

The entrepreneurs selected for the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN/IBM) programme will join a cohort of around 67 of their peers selected last year to be part of GEN’s 22 on Sloane residency programme. The newcomers will enjoy access to a dedicated workspace and technical support from the GEN/IBM teams, which include experienced entrepreneurs, mentors, scientists, managers, chief executives and funders, as well as access to all other facilities at 22 on Sloane, such as meeting rooms, branding services, the gym and many more.

More about GEN Africa’s 22 on Sloane Start-up Campus

GEN Africa is a subsidiary of GEN, which operates in 173 countries. By fostering deeper cross-border collaboration and initiatives between entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurial support organisations, GEN works to fuel healthier start and scale ecosystems that create more jobs, educate individuals, accelerate innovation and strengthen economic growth.

Today, GEN Africa has bases in 42 African countries.

GEN Africa’s 22 on Sloane is the largest, and arguably the most innovative, start-up campus on the continent. It offers start-ups and SMEs a complete turnkey solution to scale, from the initial idea all the way to commercialisation, funding opportunities and access to markets. Its aim is to nurture the entrepreneurial mindset, ensure business sustainability, explore the development of new industries and contribute towards job creation in Africa.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chairperson of GEN Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest start-up campus.



Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER

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