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This is a five-year project to promote international trade between South Africa and the UK funded by ABSA (Barclays Bank in South Africa which forms part of Barclays PLC Global Group of companies) through their Enterprise Development fund.
Bridge International's purpose is to launch exciting ventures into new markets, achieving cross border trade that will positively impact participating businesses, the job market and ultimately South Africa's economy. South Africa has relatively few success stories of home-grown businesses that have transplanted successfully into foreign markets. Bridge International is designed to specifically address this by being a conduit that selects, supports and equips businesses with potential into making this transition. The ultimate objective is for the project to be seen by South African businesses as the programme in which to be involved in order to expand into international markets.
The first year pilot, which aimed to take a carefully selected group of South African entrepreneurs to the UK to help them find international trading opportunities, has recently been completed with great success and significant impact upon both the businesses and the participants themselves. Each of the businesses have returned to South Africa with either a contract or a relationship in place likely to deliver trading benefits in the near future.
Erika Smedy said:
2013: CEDAR and Stellenbosch University designed research model to underpin the project to capture entrepreneurial data for ongoing monitoring evaluation, analysis and learning. First cohort of 10 businesses selected and assessed for potential trading with the UK.
2013/14: One cohort of South African businesses was recruited, following a week long bootcamp run by Stellenbosch University and CEDAR in South Africa, the businesses were provided with intensive training for a period of three months. The pinnacle of the project was then a week-long visit to the UK at the conclusion of the 6 month project cycle hosted by CEDAR where the businesses were exposed to trade with the UK through providing: cultural orientation, links with trading partners and investment opportunities.
To be accepted onto the programme, the entrepreneurial businesses were expected to have the potential to trade with the UK and to be able to raise funding.
2014/15: As above plus three cohorts of 10 UK entrepreneurial businesses to be recruited and intensively trained in the UK and then taken to South Africa for a 1-week visit.
2015/18: Roll out of the model increasingly across Sub-Saharan Africa using Nigeria in the West, Kenya in the East and Egypt in the north as project hubs, rolling out to one new country in each remaining year of the project.
Barclays Bank in South Africa and funders of the project. ABSA purchased Barclays Africa, from the main Barclays plc group in 2013 to help facilitate its expansion across the continent. This network of branches will be used to roll the project out from 2015 onwards. ABSA wish to become the 'go-to' bank in Africa and this project forms a key part in their growth strategy to achieve this.
The Centre for Enterprise Development and Research, Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. Specialising in the support and development of early stage entrepreneurial businesses, both within the UK and internationally, all CEDAR academic and enterprise development programmes are designed and delivered jointly by the unique CEDAR team comprising expert academics and world-class entrepreneurs.
University of Stellenbosch
One of the best 20 universities in the world, Stellenbosch is recognised in South Africa as the main educational driver of enterprise and entrepreneurship. The University of Stellenbosch hosted the pre-accelerator bootcamp which run jointly by the university and CEDAR. The project director on behalf of Stellenbosch University is Professor Tobie De Coning, former director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and now Pro-Vice Chancellor with responsibility for the strategic development of the University of Stellenbosch.
A specialist consultancy and VC company supporting the programme with an overview of successful South African business trading in the UK.
A specialist marketing company recruited to manage all PR, press and marketing on behalf of the project. Significant press interest is anticipated, particularly from national TV. Primarily responsible for the recruitment and training of South African entrepreneurial businesses, using business development and support organizations (BDSOs) and attracting businesses directly. All partners will from part of the decision-making in the recruitment and selection of the entrepreneurs.
A new SME with operational responsibility and lead agent accountability to ABSA for delivery.