Creating innovative spaces for young entrepreneurs

The centre, situated in the bustling Newtown precinct in Johannesburg, was proud to announce the opening of its SAP Simplon Laboratory. The lab now has a permanent home at the centre and was launched based on Simplon itself, a French IT skills development programme.

“When we started Sci-Bono we had no intention to go into IT skills development,” explained centre CEO David Kramer.

“Then we started training students in basic IT so they could go to university and ended up doing more and more sophisticated projects as the needs became apparent. So we’ve taken the decision to set up a proper IT training component within Sci-Bono so young people who live in townships will get the opportunities to learn that they won’t be able to access through commercial training providers.”

Simplon was started by co-founder Andrei Vladescu-Olt who was in attendance at the launch of the new lab in Joburg.

“Simplon is about training and skills,” said Vladescu-Olt.

“Our first objective remains entrepreneurship, which is the most fascinating and risky kind of empowerment you can give. For the last programme in France, around a third of graduates are now employed, and a further third are involved in entrepreneurial activity.”

There have been a number of initiatives in Joburg to encourage entrepreneurship and to find the next innovative solution to the city’s problems, and this programme is one of those which can contribute towards bettering the city.

“Impact, from my point of view, is very hard to measure, as it can come three to five years from now. In Africa there’s lots of things happening at once – [there’s increasing] access to hardware, and internet penetration is growing fast. [For us] it’s a question of nudging people in the right direction,” said Vladescu-Olt.

The programme will run over five-month periods and the next batch of students are being recruited from various townships.

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