Harare, 31 May 2023 – Leading financial services institution, Stanbic Bank, is committed to empowering and developing the skills of entrepreneurs and start-ups to prop up their operations.
The Bank’s quest to empower small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and champion innovativeness has seen it establish and successfully run the Stanbic Bank Incubation Hub.
Head of Enterprise Banking at Stanbic Bank, Auxillia Kambasha, said Stanbic Bank is aware that the informal sector accounts for a large percentage of the workforce and that most of these entrepreneurs do not have the requisite business know how to run their operations.
To that end, the Incubator Hub was established as an enabling vehicle to empower these enterprises.
“While the informal sector has contributed to the country’s GDP significantly in different areas such as agriculture, technology and retail among others, the players stand to benefit from the Incubation Hub through its well thought out training and support programmes. The Hub’s programmes are tailor made, under a hybrid approach, to capacitate and upskill existing entrepreneurs and start-ups,” said Kambasha.
The programmes ride on pillars that include ideation, incubation, and acceleration. The Hub provides a nurturing, instructive and supportive environment for entrepreneurs at different stages of business life cycle. It is a place for SMEs to come in, work and share on innovative ideas for their existing or upcoming businesses.
Located in Harare, on the north-eastern edge of the city centre, the Incubator Hub was opened in 2019 but closed in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID 19 and then reopened in March 2022.
Kambasha said The Hub is a vibrant co-working space that provides entrepreneurs, and freelancers a space to work and connect with like-minded individuals and professionals from different industries. This helps grow their business and gain insight into different markets, which can be very difficult for those starting out.
With unlimited WiFi and comfortable seating, the Incubator Hub is where start-ups begin. Young and talented individuals birth their business ideas and are helped by subject matter experts from Stanbic Bank to nurture them into full-fledged businesses.
“The response from entrepreneurs has been good and all those who have passed through the Hub have benefitted from the support Stanbic Bank offers for their business to grow from incubation level to becoming fully established,” said Kambasha.
Over 150 young entrepreneurs have benefitted from invaluable Financial Literacy Training at the Hub in the six months it was operating after its inception in September 2019 up until the COCID 19-induced shut down in early March 2020. Not to be deterred by the COVID 19 lockdown restrictions, over 65 webinars were held during the period to ensure that the predominantly budding and young entrepreneurs were given the requisite skills to grow their enterprises.
Kambasha lamented the setback posed by the menacing COVID 19 in 2020 saying it derailed progress although the Hub is now operating at full throttle again from the time the restrictions were lifted.
Through the Hub, Stanbic also organises events for networking such as the Women’s Dendere, an event that was hosted in March for female entrepreneurs to learn from each other and discuss the challenges they may be facing in starting a business.
She said Stanbic is pleased that the Incubation Hub is meeting its primary goal of empowering young entrepreneurs with the resources they need to make a difference.
“Whether it’s starting a tech start-up or a business that helps people within the community, the Hub helps to develop the skills and confidence to develop an idea into a fully functioning business. The Hub helps young entrepreneurs become innovative and powerful influencers of change and is producing the next wave of leaders in business and beyond. Users of the Hub are guaranteed ambience in the form of spacious and well-furnished free working space to conduct their business. The provision of uninterrupted use of WiFi is the cherry on top for the users of the Hub,” she said.
The Hub was created to be a comfortable workspace, with optimal lighting, bathroom facilities with the sum total being an amazing aesthetic set up which enhances productivity.
It has an outer terrace where one can get to decompress, get a breath of fresh air, and connect with others. Working from the Hub offers users a healthy and refreshing work-life balance between their workspace and personal spaces. It offers users access for a minimum of 2 hours.
Tawanda Takure, the founder of Footnote, a digital marketing agency that works with brands in Zimbabwe and South Africa is one such beneficiary of the Hub. He started working at the Hub in October last year and has enjoyed the many benefits the Hub has to offer.
With the support of the Hub, he has grown his business and taken advantage of the networking opportunities.
“The Hub has helped me connect with fellow entrepreneurs whom I’ve managed to share experiences and ideas with so far,” said Takure.
He has also formed lucrative partnerships with other creatives at the Hub leading to the establishment of an innovative chatbot development start-up called Chatbox Pro. Chatbox Pro launched successfully and has made great progress. The Hub connected Chatbox Pro with potential clients and fellow tech professionals including a Programming intern, who is now on internship with Chatbox Pro in Programming and IT, allowing for an opportunity to be trained and mentored.