Investing In The Next Generation Of South African SMEs

For South Africa’s small and medium enterprise (SME) sector to thrive, entrepreneurs need to partner with reliable investors. Partnerships lay the foundation for innovators to enter the market and turn their businesses into a success.

To support the next generation of innovators, 22 On Sloane, in partnership with Telkom, African Bank, Rand Mutual Assurance and Geekulcha, hosted the GEW Hackathon. This event aimed to bring startups and investors together, to explore digital opportunities and help solve pressing problems faced by various industries.

“The number of women taking part this year shows that there’s greater visibility and accessibility to the ICT industry. More and more women are branching into industries that they never thought they could be a part of, until now,” says Mathebe Mhlongo, Manager of Enterprise and Supplier Development at Telkom.

“Our involvement in the Hackathon aligns closely with African Bank’s vision to extend our offerings and services to SMMEs,” added Edna Montse, African Bank Group’s Executive for Sustainability and Transformation.

The GEW Hackathon, hosted over three days, focuses on five key sectors: education, financial services, gaming, health, and services. Teams are briefed to address a problem in one of the five key sectors. On the last day, the teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges, who decided on the top five winners.

The Panel of judges were:

  • Nozimanga Madubane, the Senior Manager ESD and Preferential Procurement, Telkom
  • Unathi Mtya, Group CIO, African Bank
  • Mafika Nkambule, Director ICT, Tshwane University of Technology
  • Sthembiso Mpungose, Chief Investments Officer, 22 ON SLOANE

    These are the winners of the 2022 GEW Hackathon:

    Team Saturated developed a web progressive platform that matches SMEs and startups to job seekers. Sponsors fund the learning programmes and remunerate the job seekers for a fixed period.

    Team XR created a virtual-reality application that offers vehicle maintenance training. This solution allows engineering students, with limited access to physical training infrastructure, to develop the real-world skills they require.

    Block Labs built a gamified eLearning marketplace using a unique learn-and-earn model, leveraged by blockchain to enhance engagement in STEM subjects.

    Bredio pitched a solution that can help predict respiratory diseases, such as asthma, in miners, while providing accurate and reliable data to mining companies.

    Nerd Code built a working unit that uses smart technology to detect the exact location of cable or critical infrastructure theft.

    “This is the first time we have competed in a hackathon, so winning feels surreal,” says Dan Phala, Bredio team lead. “I’m proud of our solution and the potential it has to offer mining companies. Our project still has a long way to go, but now we have the investment we need to make it a reality.”

    A total cash prize of R500k was awarded, with each of the five teams receiving R100k. The winners also secured the opportunity to join 22 On Sloane’s Catalytic Programme, where they can access up to R750k in funding.

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