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Amazon backs black SMMEs


The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and American telecommunications giant Amazon Web Services have signed an equity agreement that will see 100 black entrepreneurs empowered.

Signed on the sidelines of the ongoing South Africa Investment Conference on Wednesday, the agreement will see Amazon invest R365 million the dti’s B-BBEE Equity Equivalent Investment Program (AWS EEIP).

The fund will be invested in the development of 100% black-owned South African small businesses within the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

Addressing reporters, dti Director General Lionel October said Amazon has over the last five years made significant investment in data services in South Africa.

“They have shown their confidence,” he said.

During last year’s conference, the company announced it would be building data centres in Southern Africa.

“That investment has now been made… Early next year, [Amazon] will be launching their cloud computer from South Africa. We are interested both industrialization and transformation, bringing in black entrepreneurs and black women owned businesses into the mainstream economy.

“Under this [agreement signed today], 100 black businesses will be brought into the Amazon Web Services supply chain. [Amazon] will incubate black entrepreneurs into the Amazon stable. That is how we do real empowerment.

“Amazon is building three data centres along the coast in the Western Cape, however, the black entrepreneurs programme will be across the country. They’ve met the first group of interns but it’s open for all entrepreneurs to join,” October said.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel welcomed the development, saying government could not have asked for a better company to spearhead the project.

Teresa Carlson, Amazon Vice President: Worldwide Public Sector, said the venture was a long-term project.

“I’m sure we’ll find many other ways to work together and prosper,” she said.



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

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