R700m equity equivalent programme launched

Cape Town: Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has launched a R700 million IBM South Africa broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) equity equivalent investment programme.

The launch of the equity equivalent investment programme is in line with the 2007 Codes of Good Practice that require all entities operating in the South African economy to make a contribution towards the objectives of B-BBEE.

The programme is expected to contribute towards the achievement of enterprise development, kick-starting an academic programme and the launch of a research programme.

“The equity equivalent programmes are expected to contribute towards the achievement of enterprise creation and development, foreign direct investment (FDI), accelerated growth and development of black rural women and youth, sustainable growth and development, human development with focus on education and skills development, infrastructure investment with an emphasis on developing the country’s research and development infrastructure,” said the Minister in Cape Town on Thursday.

The Minister signed off on the programme on 26 January 2015 for a period of ten years.

He said the equity equivalent programme would be anchored on three main areas of focus including an Enterprise Development Programme (EDP); an academic programme and a research programme.

In the first area, the Enterprise Development Programme will focus on helping black-owned and black women-owned businesses with a particular focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and South African youth within the information, communication and technology (ICT) domain.

Over the 10-year period the enterprise development programme aims to develop 74 beneficiaries that are either individuals with aspirations of being entrepreneurs; SMEs or matured enterprises seeking to grow through the acquisition of new skills and capabilities.

Minister Davies said the academic programme will provide funding for 56 students to participate in the Wits curriculum. This will include supporting disadvantaged black matriculants wishing to pursue an undergraduate Bachelor of Computer Science Degree with a 100% bursary.

Funding will also be made available for students wishing to pursue their honours, masters and doctorate qualifications based on the commonality of research interest.

The IBM research Africa will focus on addressing the key challenges of South Africa through commercially viable innovations that impact people’s lives.

“Lastly, in terms of the company’s commitment, I have granted IBM SA the full 20 points under the ownership element of the B-BBEE codes for their participation in the programme,” the Minister said.

Abraham Thomas, IBM South Africa’s Country General Manager, said it was a privilege for IBM SA to be involved with the programme.

“It is with great pleasure that we are announcing this equity equivalent programme.

“I would like to encourage all my fellow multi-national companies in South Africa to really look at this as a potential programme where they can build even deeper roots in South Africa and the development of this fantastic country,” he said.