IBM South Africa invests in skills, education

2 July 2015

IBM South Africa and the Department of Trade and Industry have launched the first phase of one of South Africa’s largest equity equivalent investment programmes (EEIP), the R700-million IBM South Africa Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Equity Equivalent Investment Programme.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies signed off on the programme on 26 January, for a period of 10 years. It will build a research hub in South Africa, as well as foster enterprise and deep skills development.

At the time, IBM said it planned to inject millions of rands into skills development and education in the fields of science and technology, establish a research hub in Johannesburg and ensure healthy enterprise development.

Speaking at the official launch of the EEIP in Midrand, Gauteng on 1 July, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Mzwandile Masina called on multinationals to participate in the programme and contribute to the growth of the country’s economy.

“The equity equivalent programmes are expected to contribute towards the achievement of enterprise creation and development, foreign direct investment, accelerated growth and development of black rural women and youth, sustainable growth and development, human development with focus on education and skills development, infrastructure investment with an emphasis on developing the country’s research and development infrastructure,” Davies said in Cape Town today.

IBM Research Africa

The IBM South Africa EEIP will comprise three integrated and interdependent components, underpinned and supported by IBM Research Africa, namely: Enterprise Development Programme, Academic Programme and Research Programme.

The first will focus on helping black-owned and black women-owned businesses with a particular focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and youth in the information, communication and technology sector.

Over the decade, it will work with 74 beneficiaries that are either individuals with aspirations of being entrepreneurs, SMEs, or mature enterprises seeking to grow through the acquisition of new skills and capabilities.

The Academic Programme will fund the education of 46 undergraduates, six Masters students and four PhD students with bursaries at the University of the Witwatersrand, internships at IBM and supplementary short courses and project work.

As part of the decade-long investment programme, Research Africa, the new research facility based at Wits, will aim to expand research and development activities and foster innovation.

IBM Research Africa will focus on addressing the key challenges of South Africa through commercially viable innovations that will have a positive effect on people’s lives.

BBBEE requirements

“In terms of the company’s commitment, I have granted IBM South Africa the full 20 points under the ownership element of the B-BBEE codes for their participation in the programme,” Davies concluded.

Abraham Thomas, IBM South Africa’s country general manager, said it was a privilege for the company to be involved with the programme. “I would like to encourage all my fellow multinational companies in South Africa to really look at this as a potential programme where they can build even deeper roots in South Africa and the development of this fantastic country.”

Masina, speaking at the official launch in Gauteng, described it as another good B- BBEE story that contributed towards making South Africa a better place to live. “This launch is part of our on-going efforts to promote the [EEIP] as an alternative for doing B-BBEE ownership for qualifying multinationals,” he explained.

“This is a transformation programme that supports industrialisation and entrepreneurship. It will assist in addressing the challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment.”

Aspiring entrepreneurs can apply online on the IBM South Africa website. Those who qualify will receive a combination of financial support, skills transfer, mentorship and relevant business and technical enablement.

SAinfo reporter