Bandwidth Barn Khayelitsha partners MzanziStore to boost e-commerce

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The newly-opened Bandwidth Barn Khayelitsha has partnered creative design marketplace MzansiStore to run a two-day course for local traders on the importance of e-commerce.

Disrupt Africa reported last month South Africa’s Cape IT initiative (CiTi) opened the Barn Khayelitsha incubator, with the project aiming to address the need for “inclusive growth” in business.

The Barn has now partnered with MzanziStore in an arrangement that will see the startup’s founder Deidre Luzmore present a two-day e-commerce course with 20 participants beginning today, looking to provide an understanding of the relevance of e-commerce in today’s trade.

“Collaborating with CiTi and the Barn Khayelitsha is an exciting opportunity,” Luzmore said.

“But what really excites me is how closely CiTi is listening to the needs of entrepreneurs in Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain. This programme is not a replication of what is being offered at other incubators simply to fulfil a quota, rather it directly answers an urgent need of entrepreneurs in this area.”

CiTi said the aim of the new Barn is to address the community-specific challenges entrepreneurs are facing by providing business development skills tailor-made for them.

“We have found that many of the entrepreneurs and women in business from these communities are crafters and artists. They create beautiful items, but reaching an audience wider than the market stall or the boot of their car is a challenge we would like to help them overcome,” said Baratang Miya, CiTi project head of the Barn Khayelitsha.

Chris Vermeulen, head of enterprise development at CiTi, said by removing some of the obstacles these entrepreneurs face and providing mentorship and other business skills training, the Barn would help these businesses stand a better chance of survival and growth.

“E-Commerce is just one way we are helping entrepreneurs become I-enabled. Exposing these entrepreneurs to a wider audience through IT means that we get better test data and better to-market business strategies for their startup ideas. A more satisfying result for the participants is the increased income potential for the entrepreneur generated by online trade,” he said.

“Becoming IT enabled is vital to the success of business growth for entrepreneurs,” said Ian Merrington, chief executive officer (CEO) of CiTi.

“Many of the entrepreneurs’ only piece of tech is a cell phone, and even that is not always a smartphone. Becoming IT-enabled means the Barn Khayelitsha is making available tech and connectivity to empower and aid these entrepreneurs to trade in a relevant medium and manner.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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