In presenting the chairperson’s report for the 2018/19 financial year, Darryl Dennis summed up how resilient the Nelson Mandela Bay iHub had been during what must have been one of the most difficult of years in recent history.
Dennis who is the chairperson for the Nelson Mandela Bay iHub said the iHub showed how they have made effective use of the IsiXhosa Proverb, intake yakha ngoboyabenye, literal meaning “a bird builds [its nest] with another’s feathers”.
The proverb underscores an important value among AmaXhosa, that in order for people to advance, they have to depend on one another. They have to make use of other people’s skills and resources in mutually beneficial, humane, and sustainable ways.
For that reason, it’s no wonder that many people who went on to achieve great strides in their lives attributed part of their fortunes to the rearing of the proverbial “village”.
Likewise, Dennis says the source of the iHub resilience during the reporting period was to build an organisation which leveraged its connections with various stakeholders in order to offer better services to its incubatees and become more sustainable financially.
Faced with a very dire economic situation that affected the organisation and the incubatees, Dennis explained that they had to form crucial partnerships with the Innovator Trust, the CSIR, the Port Elizabeth TVET College and Deviare for various programmes.
He says: “These for us constitute the village and it is going to take all of us to raise thriving technology-based mega businesses.
“Our funders’ continued confidence in the iHub has also been commendable. We received over 98% of pledged funds at a time when the availability of both the public and private sector funds could no longer be taken for granted.”
The organisation has seen both positives and negatives, some typical of an organisation in its second year of implementing an ambitious strategy and others merely reflecting the state of both the local and the national economies.
For this year, Dennis said the iHub has been asked to expand its reach by starting two more hubs in Uitenhage and the Southern Cape and this is a huge vote of confidence.
“Our decision on this project will be premised on measured courage and wholehearted pursuit of the opportunities that lie ahead. There may be many challenges but the positive socioeconomic spin offs will certainly far outweigh them.
“When we have been part of stimulating innovation in the key regions we operate in, there will be immense positive impact on the gross geographic products of those regions,” said Dennis.
Dennis explains that by broadening their funding base this year, strengthening value adding partnerships, and keeping a strong focus on innovation, they have certainly connected all the dots that are critical for success.
“We have done our part in the last year and we have seen some of our incubatees begin to leverage the connections we have made to grow their businesses.
“When we have perfected living up to our strategic intent, we will see multi-million rand technology companies out of the iHub. Our hope for revitalising the Nelson Mandela Bay economy rests a lot more with our incubatees,” said Dennis.