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AWS opens applications for Equity Equivalent Investment Programme


Amazon Web Services (AWS) South Africa is inviting black-owned small IT businesses to apply for its Equity Equivalent Investment Programme (EEIP).

In 2019, the Amazon subsidiary launched the AWS Equity Equivalent Investment Programme in SA, as part of its broad-based black economic empowerment programme, which seeks to support 100% black-owned local small IT businesses.

According to a statement, EEIPs are South African Department of Trade, Industry and Competition approved initiatives, aimed at providing multinational companies an opportunity to take part in local societal development and contribute towards economic advancement and inclusion of black people and black-owned businesses in SA.

The AWS EEIP is an 18- to 24-month enablement and acceleration programme for businesses with a turnover under R50 million.

According to AWS, the programme is designed to help these businesses on-board to AWS and accelerate their journey to becoming select and advanced tier consulting or technology partners on the AWS partner network.

The programme competes with Microsoft’s EEIP programme, which was launched in 2019.

According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), SA’s small businesses employ between 50% and 60% of the workforce and generate about 34% of the country’s GDP.

“The “South Africa in the digital age: pathways to digital work” report estimates the South African tech industry can create 500 000 jobs over the next 10 years,” says Zakhona Ndlovu, AWS EEIP programme manager.

“Thriving SMEs are vital in achieving this and other job creation goals but face constraints such as limited access to funding, skilled labour, technology and networks, which can limit their growth. AWS EEIP gives these businesses a range of resources and support not only to achieve the AWS Partner Network (APN) tier requirements, but build sustainable, scalable businesses which contribute to South Africa’s skills development and job creation imperative.”

According to the IFC, small business ownership in SA reflects patterns of racial- and gender-based inequality in the broader South African society, and as the size of businesses grows, the rates of black and female ownership decline.

The programme is open to qualifying small businesses in SA that want to become AWS partners in the public and/or commercial sectors.

By participating in the programme, SMEs get advisory and technical support, including:

  • The AWS Partner Transformation Programme (PTP), a comprehensive assessment, training, and enablement programme focused on helping partners build a successful and profitable AWS Cloud business.

  • Cloud Centre of Excellence bootcamps and enterprise development consulting, which can help partners operationalise their PTP.

  • Headcount subsidies, which give partners much-needed financial support to hire and expand teams.

  • AWS training and certification.

  • Cash grants to pay for operating expenses, go-to-market funding, AWS Promotional Credit, and fully subsidised APN fees.

Interested small businesses are encouraged to apply by 15 April.

Space mission

Meanwhile, AWS today also announced the launch of its AWS Space Accelerator, to support space-focused start-ups around the world, including in SA.

The four-week business support programme seeks to provide technical, business and mentoring resources to space start-ups and helps empower them by providing access to the AWS platform to help them solve the biggest challenges in the space industry.

“Start-ups provide a catalyst for bold new experimentation in the space industry,” says Clint Crosier, director of Aerospace and Satellite at AWS. “We are proud to announce the AWS Space Accelerator as part of our ongoing commitment to help start-ups succeed, and to shape the future of aerospace. We look forward to helping the first cohort of companies launch and grow through this new programme.”

Qualifying missions can include earth observation, electronics and robotics, spacecraft launch and delivery, spacecraft hardware and software, launch manufacturing and launch operations.

AWS and solar system company Seraphim will select 10 companies to participate in the four-week accelerator taking place in June. Selected start-ups may receive up to $100 000 in AWS Activate credit, as well as mentoring from space domain and technical subject matter experts with deep experience working on AWS.

Applications open today and proposals are due by 21 April.



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

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