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New fund to help businesses

Written by Stephen Timm
A new business support fund rolled out by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) will help boost entrepreneurs with bright new ideas that need funding.

It is the first-such fund in South Africa as the country joins a number of emerging countries that already use small grants to help entrepreneurs fund the initial proof of concept stage for new ideas.

Bongi Gumede, TIA’s general senior manager of business development and strategic partnerships, says while the fund is operating at some universities, the agency is still in discussions with other universities and provincial development agencies through which it plans to offer seed grants of up to R500 000 per entrepreneur.

The seed grants would cover things such as initial proof of concept, prototype development, sourcing of intellectual property (IP) opinions, production of market samples, support of certification activities, piloting and scale-up of techno-economic evaluations, primary market research and business plan development.

In very special circumstances, an allocation of up to R1 million can be considered.

So far R25 million has been set aside for the programme but Gumede says the agency’s board might allow a further R30 million allocation to the programme.

The idea is that techno-entrepreneurs who need funding will be able to approach these agencies, which would then forward names to TIA for approval of these grants.

For entrepreneurs to qualify for TIA funding, projects must hold significant potential for further investment.

For more information go to www.tia.org.za

Article first appeared in Small Business Connect.