Blue Label and Blue Pencil partner to accelerate the growth of innovative South African businesses
New business boutique accelerator programme will help disruptive new businesses reach new markets and achieve commercial success
JSE-listed Blue Label Telecoms and Blue Pencil Management Architects (trading as Blue Pencil) have jointly launched a business accelerator programme that will provide high potential South African businesses with access to the funding, market opportunities, channels and skills they need to take their commercial success to the next level.
Blue Pencil provides channel development, investment and business acceleration services for small and medium-sized businesses that have strong growth prospects. The combination of its business development expertise and Blue Label’s access to funding, infrastructure and skills will help the chosen businesses fast-track their growth.
The new business acceleration programme will focus on scale-ups that are maturing from their incubation phase and that are ready to develop into more mature businesses. The initiative will provide them with access to skills and infrastructure cutting across finance, IT, HR, marketing, product development and other business functions.
In addition, where the businesses need capital to grow, Blue Label may provide funding in exchange for an equity stake or help them to secure external funders. Blue Label and Blue Pencil are currently evaluating companies suitable for the programme, with the aim of bringing 10 on board during Q1 2017.
“South Africa as a nation is crying out for initiatives that can create jobs and stimulate economic growth,” says Tallies Taljaard, owner of Blue Pencil. “Many small businesses struggle to take off and thrive after the incubation phase – by increasing their chances of success and through the right interventions we can help them to have a positive impact in the SMME economy.”
Adds Mark Levy, CEO of Blue Label Telecoms: “While there is a strong focus on incubation, there are not enough structures in place to accelerate the growth of high potential organisations. We will seek out businesses that are built on innovation and disruption and support them with Blue Label Telecoms’ frameworks, experience, and infrastructure.”
“We want to enable them to upscale rapidly and, ultimately, penetrate new markets across Africa, and the rest of the world. We will work with them in terms of commercialisation and market opportunities, assist them to refine their value proposition and see where we can leverage synergies with Blue Label.”
It is anticipated that the first phase of the accelerator programme will last for approximately three years. “This is not going to be a simple and quick intervention; we are in it for the long haul. Blue Pencil has done a lot of work with incubators in the past, so we have engaged with some of them to identify entities for our accelerator shortlist,” Taljaard says.“Blue Label Telecoms not only has the resources to assist with an acceleration project of this nature, but also the entrepreneurial spirit,” he adds. “It understands the challenges these new businesses face and can help them overcome obstacles. Scalability does not depend on a formula, but rather thrives with the hands-on approach both our companies will take in this venture.”
Levy adds that in the initial stages, the aim will be to test the depth of intervention that will be required to accelerate the chosen companies, and to consolidate best practices. “Although there is a social responsibility aspect to this project, our aims are largely commercial,” continues Levy. “We help to establish a foundation for these businesses, assist with the acceleration of their initial growth and ultimately, invest in them, either directly or via a third party.”