The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Black Umbrellas (BU) have announced a partnership to provide technical and technological support to small, black-owned businesses in South Africa.
The two organisations recently signed a memorandum of understanding to cement this collaboration. The partnership, which comes at a time when South Africa’s economic recovery is under the spotlight, seeks to accelerate entrepreneurial growth and empowering small, black-owned businesses by providing them with access to CSIR-developed technologies, as well as research and development infrastructure to improve their business endeavours. Most small businesses in the country are still reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and many still need support, which this partnership aims to provide.
Together, the organisations will identify companies for which new or existing technologies may be produced or manufactured to meet their supply-chain requirements. The organisations will also identify other organisations or government departments who may be interested in providing funding for any joint initiatives arising from this agreement.
Black Umbrellas partners with entrepreneurs, enterprises, investors and communities, creating dynamic models to catalyse unique developmental and organisational solutions in order to drive an inclusive and sustainable economic future. The organisation focuses on developing qualifying black-owned businesses to a level where they can gain meaningful access to procurement, finance and networks, and then facilitating access to these opportunities.
This supports the objectives of the CSIR strategy that aims to collaborate with the public and private sector to develop and localise technologies in order to advance industrial development in South Africa. The strategy is built around the vision of accelerating socioeconomic prosperity in South Africa through leading innovation.
Speaking at the virtual signing event, CSIR CEO Thulani Dlamini said the partnership comes at an important time in the CSIR’s history.
“This year marks 75 years of the CSIR’s existence and we are proud to join hands with BU in one of the key government objectives, which is to support small businesses in a bid to revive the South African economy and create jobs. This partnership with BU is a gateway to ensuring that we respond to our mandate of making a lasting impact on various lives through innovation, research and development, and consequently using sustainable methods to boost South Africa’s economy,” said Dlamini.
“Under this partnership, the CSIR and BU will be able to identify possible programme focus areas which incorporate technology, supply chain, off-take agreements and funding opportunities,” he said.
Mark Frankel, CEO of Black Umbrellas, said: “Our vision is to be a valued partner in enabling equal and sustainable economic access and participation. We do this by inspiring, developing, mobilising and connecting entrepreneurial and innovative people, solutions and resources to effect positive economic and social change. The CSIR is a key enabler in unlocking South Africa’s future economic growth, particularly in terms of the “new economy”. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to partner with the CSIR and look forward to a long and meaningful relationship in scaling and accelerating South Africa’s small business ecosystem.”
About the CSIR
The CSIR, an entity of the ministry of higher education, science & innovation, is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa. Constituted by an act of parliament in 1945 as a science council, the CSIR undertakes directed and multidisciplinary research and technological innovation, as well as industrial and scientific development to improve the quality of life of all South Africans. For more information, visit www.csir.co.za.
About Black Umbrellas
Black Umbrellas is a non-profit company. Its objective is to provide funding, resources, training and support to emerging black-owned small, medium and micro enterprises. In accordance with its objective, among other things, Black Umbrellas also undertakes the following programmes: infrastructure (dependent on the availability of the Black Umbrellas physical incubators or business centres); business development and support services; information, advice, and guidance on businesses issues; tax, PAYE, VAT registration; comprehensive training (B-BBEE, supplier development, gap analysis, Companies Act, financial record keeping, business management, systems/technologies, human resource management, etc); bookkeeping services; coaching and support from business coaches; mentors; support on operational systems; access to procurement and financing opportunities. For more information, visit www.blackumbrellas.co.za.
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