In partnership with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), State-owned rail utility Transnet on Monday launched the R62-million Matlafatšo Centre, which aims to assist aspiring entrepreneurs and small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) to explore and test their products before accessing the market.
Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama said the centre would facilitate the transfer of skills and provide small businesses with access to research and development facilities “for young business minds”.
He added that the centre would try to address the country’s entrepreneurial skills shortages through innovation, research and development.
“We are expecting to see great and disruptive ideas coming out of this centre. The investment should be used as a springboard for young people to catch up with other leading countries when it comes to research, innovation and technology,” he said.
Gama further noted that the centre’s knock-on effects would hopefully have an impact on unemployment and skills development in South Africa.
Also speaking at the launch, Public Enterprise Minister Lynne Brownsaid: “SOEs help build the economy. We must help to empower young people to be able to participate in the economy to build a society that is more equal, irrespective of where you live or who you are.”
“The centre is the brainchild of Transnet’s enterprise and supplier development programme and will later be rolled out countrywide to reach broader communities,” Gama said.
The hub will help beneficiaries protect their intellectual property and assist them in scaling up manufacturing processes and technology demonstrators by informing them about the potential of new technologies, thereby supporting upcoming SMMEs.
Wits, which is fast becoming a leader in the innovation, research and development space among tertiary institutions in South Africa, will provide the academic and technical support for the centre.
The Matlafatšo Centre has started working on some ideas and has registered 115 ideas from 136 individuals.