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South Africa's Cell C launches SMME start-up initiative


South African mobile network Cell C, together with Seda, has launched the Cell C Innovation Challenge to help disadvantaged SMMEs to accelerate their solutions by means of a partnership opportunity – including interest-free loans, mentorship and the opportunity to work with Cell C as a preferred supplier.

According to a media statement issued by the mobile network, the platform was established to support entrepreneurship and transformation.

Cell C's Chief Human Capital Development and Transformation Officer, Juliet Mhango says: "We believe in the exponential growth that technology-enabled services can bring to the world of work and play and want to be the catalyst that enables first-stage entrepreneurs to catapult their start up concepts into businesses."

"As one of the big four mobile operators, we have over the past few decades seen how innovation in the ICT industry has led to employment and transformation in SA – we want to enable the next wave of technology upstarts to do the same."

The Cell C Innovation Challenge opens on 9 October and innovators with unique, commercially viable ideas are invited to the first round of pitches starting from 30-31 October at Cell C Headquarters.

The company adds that business ideas will be assessed for their viability and innovative nature and entrepreneurs will be able to pitch their ideas in person to a select panel of judges.

"This challenge not only provides support for up and coming businesses, but also sets the stage for technological revolution in the ICT sector, while providing a platform for meaningful transformation. There may be more than one successful SMME, so we are hoping that businesses will come out in numbers to provide compelling pitches to us," says Mhango.

Confident of stability

At the end of September 2019, the company released (in addition to its annual financial results up to end May 2019), another quarter of results up to end August 2019 and highlighted the effect of the new management's strategic activities.

According to the results, the last quarter - post its annual reporting period - shows that its service revenue improved during the last three months leading up to August 2019 at R3,68-billion for the quarter, with an improved operating margin and stronger EBITDA at R1,042-billion.

Moreover, year-on-year quarterly gross margin down 9% and Year-on-year quarterly EBITDA was 18% higher.

In the presentation of results, the company emphasised initial cost-cutting measures including reviewing the channel options for the 'black' streaming service "which will ensure a saving of R120-million annually with additional savings expected as Cell C continues to right-size this business unit," the company added, as well as rebalancing its traffic and retail products – Cell C removed non-profitable products and increased its focus on retail product pricing and wholesale pricing; and implementing a cost efficiency programme across all expense lines in the organisation – "the current run rate of over R864-million, with more anticipated will result in these savings reflected in future results," according to the statement.

Cell C's chief executive officer Douglas Craigie Stevenson says that he is confident that Cell C will stabilise and recover to the benefit of its shareholders, consumers, staff and the local telecommunications industry.

"Our turnaround strategy is focused on ensuring operational efficiencies, restructuring our balance sheet, implementing a revised network strategy and improving our overall liquidity. Cell C has a real opportunity to address its historical performance through a focus on operations that will restore shareholder value. We are convinced that our wide-ranging operational initiatives will position Cell C for long-term success."



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