A holistic approach to incubating entrepreneurs


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Institution: False Bay TVET college

The Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE) was established in 2015 through a partnership between the South African Departments of Higher Education and Training and Trade and Industry; the Department of Small Business Development took over at a later stage. The Centre operates from the Westlake Campus of the False Bay Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College in Cape Town . The college established an Innovation Hub in November 2016, where it now hosts the Centre and Rapid Incubator (CfE/RI) in partnership with the Small Enterprises Development Agency (SEDA). The primary target group is young people between 18 and 35, mainly from the Black and Coloured communities, townships and nearby rural areas.

The CfE/RI offers courses in establishing and growing small businesses into profitable operations that are resilient and sustainable. Businesses in the manufacturing arena make use of the Rapid Incubator, consisting of an engineering and woodwork workshop equipped with machinery, tools and production support for the development and manufacture of new products. These ‘mini-factories’ include a ‘Maker Space’ for entrepreneurs to make prototypes and include AutoCAD design packages, a 3D printer and laser cutter to enable them to come up with Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). The factories assist the start-up in manufacturing products until they can afford their equipment and facilities.

Good Practice Approach

The methodology followed in the CfE/RI consists of four independent, yet integrated elements:

  1. Learning linked to an innovative and holistic 360o development approach to youth entrepreneurship development using an array of tools, including GrowthWheel®, a visual toolbox and online platform to establish and grow small businesses through an action-oriented process.

  2. Structured individual mentoring;

  3. Support through facilitating linkages to the market and financial resources, business administration and infrastructure etc.; and

  4. Personal development workshops focussed on growing resilient entrepreneurs.

Growth Wheel


The CfE/RI follows the SEDA Rapid Incubator model and includes some practices from other incubators. Rapid Incubator supports entrepreneurs through three phases:  

  1. Pre-incubation: transform ideas into start-ups;  six months of technical training and business development support for establishing manufacturing businesses;

  2. Incubation phase: access to support services under controlled conditions in an incubator environment for developing and nurturing new businesses and accelerating the growth of existing businesses;

  3. Post-incubation: support services are available for entrepreneurs who have graduated from the incubator within three years to conduct and commence business activity.

The CfE/RI has diverse funding sources, with SEDA currently being the primary source of funding, including buildings, equipment and technology. This funding is supplemented by several other sources, either through organisations approaching the centre, or the centre promoting its services to potential funders.

Key Results
  • The CfE/RI is firmly established and has built a positive reputation in the city as a thought leader in entrepreneurship

  • Ten formal Memoranda of Understanding with entities for cooperation and support for the programmes and projects of the centre

  • Over 400 have benefitted from the entrepreneurship programmes offered at the centre

  • Incubated more than 50 small businesses, 20% of these are involved in manufacturing wood or metal products, while others are engaged in diverse industries

  • “Maker Space” has the equipment and advanced technology

Lessons Learnt (Success Factors & Challenges)
  • The development of entrepreneurial ventures among the youth is not a quick-fix, neat, linear process. It requires continuous adaptation and innovation, even within a structured programme.

  • The success of newly established SMMEs cannot be scientifically predicted and is rarely evident over the short term.

  • Youth entrepreneurship development takes place within a broader socio-economic system.

Important enablers for the success in entrepreneurship development

  • Strong commitment and demonstrated support from governance structures.

  • Regular monitoring of progress against clearly stipulated Key Performance Indicators

  • The skills, commitment and strength of the team running the CfE/RI are vital

  • Leveraging off other initiatives for promoting entrepreneurship and strengthening small businesses in the city, the province and nationally.


Key challenges experienced

  • Sourcing and selecting the appropriate number of young people who continue with the programme until the end is an ongoing challenge.

  • There is a need for scientific evaluation of the impact in terms of indicators such as the progress made by graduates in growing profitable small businesses, the sustainability of those businesses and the overall effect in terms of job creation. The current capacity in the CfE/RI is too limited to perform this function in a structured manner. However, there are plans to contract an external provider to undertake this work.



  • Plans to replicate the model in a much broader scope in a new Business Incubation Village at the Swartklip campus of the TVET college.

  • There is regular and wide-spread informal interaction between the centre and the other incubators in the SEDA incubation network and other entities supporting entrepreneurship.