Global Alliance Africa connects ecosystem players in Gauteng to explore challenges in grassroots innovation

Posted on: 06/12/2022

On 17th November 2022, Global Alliance Africa at Innovate UK KTN hosted its first Local Innovation Networking event in Johannesburg, South Africa.

As part of the project’s ‘Place-Based Innovation’ intervention, the day connected more than 30 representatives from local startups, government, academia, investors and innovation support organisations, who came together to discuss and explore opportunities to overcome the various challenges faced by grassroots innovators in the Gauteng metropole.

The event comes as Gauteng is considered the economic hub of South Africa, contributing roughly 35% to GDP and seeing the fastest market growth of all nine provinces. But despite this, the region continues to battle against high levels of poverty and unemployment, with one in four citizens living below the poverty line. In an effort to address these ongoing challenges, local government has prioritised entrepreneurship and innovation as a means to drive job creation and fast-track inclusive socio-economic development.

A highlight of the event was a panel discussion between Sbu Shongwe (Founder of Boombadotmobi), Paseka Lesolang (Managing Director of Water Hygiene Convenience), Henriette Vermaak (Founder of ECOlaTRINE), and Nivashnee Ramparsad (Sales Consultant for Smartee). Together, they unpacked their respective experiences and commented on the challenges facing innovators on their journey towards entrepreneurship.

Panelists for Global Alliance Africa Connecting for Positive Change Local Innovation Networking (LIN) event in Gauteng, South Africa, 17th November 2022
Panelists for Global Alliance Africa Connecting for Positive Change Local Innovation Networking (LIN) event in Gauteng, South Africa, 17th November 2022

Among the key learnings from this session, attendees heard how grassroots innovators in Gauteng require more support for business training. While programmes and initiatives aimed at providing business training and mentorship to entrepreneurs do exist, there is a dire need for more programmes targeting innovators – those with an idea to an existing problem, but who generally lack the foundational knowledge, experience or acumen needed to start, expand and scale a company.

As noted by Paseka Lesolang, the Managing Director of Water Hygiene Convenience, a startup from the Gauteng metropole which created leak-detection technology, with the aim of helping households and businesses preserve water resources:

It’s important that, when you have a new idea or solution, that you take the necessary steps to protect your intellectual property. Without it, your idea could be stolen or replicated, and the entire basis of your business can be put at risk.

Beyond issues relating to intellectual property rights, other key topics discussed throughout the session were:

  • The lack of business acumen held by grassroots innovators.
  • Inability of grassroots innovators to generate funding from organisations and government agencies.
  • Lack of business support at a local level.

In an effort to overcome this disconnect between the abilities of grassroots innovators and the wider ecosystem in which they operate, the panelists noted how startup programmes and competitions are being leveraged by innovators as a means of accessing funding, building connections, and developing a mentorship network to improve business outcomes.

After the panel discussion, the organiser of the event and Knowledge Transfer Manager for South Africa at Global Alliance Africa, Marisa Naidoo, thanked attendees, saying that:

As a global organisation working to unlock innovation at a local level, our aim was to connect players in Gauteng’s innovation ecosystem, to jointly identify these key challenge areas and collaborate to explore how we can potentially solve them.

To this end, Naidoo added that the event was a key part of Global Alliance Africa’s efforts to increase access to investment; capacitate local small, medium and micro-enterprises; reduce fragmentation and increase collaboration between innovation stakeholders; and expand market access for women and youth in Gauteng’s informal innovation ecosystem.

 

About Global Alliance Africa

The Global Alliance Africa project is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Follow us for more project updates

Twitter @KTN_Global

Instagram @WeAreGlobalAlliance

Webpage ktn-uk.org/programme/africa

Share this article

Related Opportunities

Global Innovation Exchange Challenge: Accelerate the Concentration of Water Treatment Residue

Opens: 16/11/2022 Closes: 31/01/2023

This Innovation Exchange challenge, delivered by Innovate UK KTN through the Global Alliance Africa project, is supporting Rand Water to identify innovative solutions to accelerate the concentration of Water Treatment Residue (WTR).

More Information

Global Innovation Exchange Challenge: Innovative Solutions to Beneficiation of Water Treatment Residue

Opens: 16/11/2022 Closes: 31/01/2023

This Innovation Exchange challenge, delivered by Innovate UK KTN through the Global Alliance Africa project, is supporting Rand Water to identify innovative solutions for the utilisation of water treatment residue.

More Information

Our Experts

Related News

Global Alliance Africa at Innovate UK KTN delivers Innovation Canvas Training in South Africa

27/09/2022

Global Alliance Africa at Innovate UK KTN delivers Innovation Canvas Training in South Africa

In August 2022, the Global Alliance Africa team hosted training sessions for the Innovation Hub and eKasiLabs which took place in Pretoria, South Africa.

Read more
More News

Related programmes

Global Alliance Africa

Global Alliance Africa

Global Alliance Africa is a six-year project funded by UK Aid through Innovate UK (GCRF) and FCDO.

Close

Connect with Innovate UK KTN

Join Innovate UK KTN's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access IUK KTN’s deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.