BY: Mpofu Sthandile.

Telkom’s Enterprise and Supplier Development programme, Telkom FutureMakers, has partnered with venture builder firm, Aions Creative Technology to grow local start-ups. This partnership comes on the back of a competitive pitching process where the venture builder firm was awarded R58 million in funding that will reflect Telkom FutureMakers’ commitment, to growing and partnering with ICT SMMEs who form the backbone of the South African economy.

Founded in 2015 and having assisted more than 2500 SMMEs to date, Telkom FutureMakers’ vision is to develop leading entrepreneurial programmes that invest in and incubate ICT businesses, provide access to market through their supply chains, work with youth and female owned businesses as well as promote inclusive innovation. Since inception, Telkom FutureMakers has invested R250 million into funding ICT businesses and was recognised by the Department of Small Business Development at the Inaugural Presidential SMME and Co-operatives Awards for consistently investing in the ICT sector. The partnership with Aions aims to continue the commitment of investing in small business in the ICT sector.

“What sets Aions apart from other entrants is that they provide both funding and end-to-end support for start-ups, which is in line with Telkom FutureMakers’ focus on innovation. Part of this focus includes the need for a suitable vehicle to achieve investments in innovation-based digital value propositions” shared Mmathebe Zvobwo, Telkom Executive: Enterprise & Supplier Development.

Mitchan Adams Co-founder and CEO of Aions said the funding would enable Aions to ‘significantly grow’ the number of start-up businesses it is funding and mentoring.  “As venture builders, we provide the seed funding the start-ups need, and then work closely with the founders to transform them into a market-ready offering that can scale rapidly and employ more people themselves. We believe this approach resonated strongly with Telkom’s goal of growing and building businesses, especially in disadvantaged areas,” said Adams.

“ICT is a globally recognised industry with the potential to unlock employment opportunities, particularly for young people. It paves the way towards a brighter and more prosperous future for all, and our partnership with Aions Creative Technology was a natural fit as their mission of changing the current economy to be more robust and sustainable is in line with our purpose of growing the digital economy,” concluded Zvobwo.

Aions is currently mentoring three start-ups: Financial wellness and salary linked benefit platform Level; electric scooter start-up Scooter; and Tubby’s Kitchen, which manufactures a range of healthy cannabis infused kitchen products for home use. The Telkom funding will see this number grow to at least 10 in the coming 12 months, said Adams.


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