Published Date: April 18, 2023


A new initiative has been created to improve entrepreneurial development across Africa through a joint collaboration between the World Bank and the South African departments of Science and Innovation (DSI) and Small Business Development. The Innovation Bridge Portal brings together resources for entrepreneurs across South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and eSwatini by providing a centralised node for networks, opportunities and information.

At the launch of the digital platform in Pretoria, South Africa, 14 entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to pitch their ideas for possible funding, networking, coaching and mentorship. The Director-General of the DSI, Dr Phil Mjwara, highlighted the destructive and constructive nature of innovation in replacing obsolete jobs with new innovative fields. Dr Mjwara noted, “we need to start thinking about how to replace those jobs that are gone with something slightly different.”

The Country Director of the World Bank, responsible for various Southern African countries, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, also attended the unveiling and added that she hoped this portal would grow over time and indicated the need for government to also provide seed financing for these early stage entrepreneurs. “This is certainly possible in Southern Africa region given the wealth of talent and resources in the ecosystem,” said Ms Marie-Nelly.

Sdumo Dlamini, the Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, also emphasized the President of South Africa’s prior sentiments to reduce regulatory burden for entrepreneurs, and highlighted the key importance of this sector in driving economic growth.

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