SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

25 February 2013

South Africa: Tech Hub to 'Build African Entrepreneurs'

A new South African innovation and technology incubator, JoziHub, is expected to grow technological development and entrepreneurship, it was announced at the launch of the project in Johannesburg last week.

It is the city's first technology incubator and was founded by mobile health technology firm Praekelt Foundation.

"Technology hubs can play a pivotal role in fostering the emergence of a new generation of African tech entrepreneurs," founder of the Praekelt Foundation, Gustav Praekelt, said in a statement.

"By providing the training, support, facilities and networks required to enable entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into sustainable businesses, incubators such as JoziHub can make an immediate and lasting impact on local innovation and development."

Focus will be given to addressing the country's most pressing social challenges through the development of internet, social media and mobile technology.

Content streams to cater for markets such as health, arts, environment and sustainability and women in technology will also be used to help address these problems, as will the hosting of regular events to bring together experts and entrepreneurs.

'Creating socially minded ventures'

"For Johannesburg tech entrepreneurs, the world just became smaller and the path to innovation shorter," said Omidyar Network partner, Stephen King.

Omidyar Network is one of the firms backing the project, along with Google and ISLabs. Omidyar is a global investment firm which aims to stimulate social and economic growth.

"Our experience in Silicon Valley, as well as our support of technology hubs in Nairobi and Lagos, demonstrates the vital role JoziHub will play as an open, living lab where collaboration among social entrepreneurs and technologists will spark new ideas, nurture innovation and create socially minded ventures," King said.

ISLabs is a division of service provider Internet Solutions, established to identify online projects and help with their development.

JoziHub will work with other hubs across Africa, such as Kenya's iHub, and is planning to apply to become part of networking organisation AfriLabs.

"Johannesburg has a vibrant community of innovators and world-class thinkers whose ideas can transform the country and indeed the African continent," Praekelt said.

"At JoziHub we are seeking to harness this energy and allow its vast potential to be realised."

It will be free for entrepreneurs to join and use JoziHub's services for the first three months in order to drive growth.

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