The rationale behind the hosting of Grassroots Innovation Workshops is to unearth rural innovators and to spur a culture of establishing industries among local inventors. The workshops are part of efforst to assist these inventors to commercialise their inventions and contribute to much-needed jobs. This was said by the Chief Director of Innovation and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), Ms Nonkululeko Shinga during the Grassroots Innovation Workshop that took place in Port Elizabeth.

She explained that the Grassroots Innovation Workshops were aimed at ensuring that government not only supports grassroots innovators, but that it also targets those innovators that are already in operation and require support to upscale and or commercialise their innovation. The ultimate goal is successful commercialisation and market penetration for increased profit, import replacement and consequently a contribution towards job creation an economic growth.

As the dti, our main objective is to industrialise rural areas and township communities. We have already upgraded a substantial number of industrial parks in country to transform the South African economy. We also have Special Economic Zones and we are going to look into how we are utilizing these tools into ensuring that we promote industrialization in rural and township communities, she said.

Shinga further announced that the dti had since developed the guidelines of the Grassroots Innovators Programme, which would be called the Kgwebo Innovation Promotion Programme (KIPP)

We will be partnering with the Industrial Development Corporation on the KIPP and are waiting for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between these entities. This MOU will govern how the relationship between the IDC and ourselves and on how we manage this programme. Once roll out of these workshops has been concluded, we then will commence with the implementation of the programme throughout the country in line with the rural and township economic revitalization focus of government. Support for grassroots innovators who wish to apply will be provided through the various development agencies, incubators and local government departments no ensure inclusivity.

The Kgwebo Investment Innovation Promotion Programme will have two sub-schemes. Firstly, the Small Medium Enterprise Growth Scheme which is looking at enterprises already in existence and are looking to scale and penetrate new markets. Secondly, the Grassroots Innovation Funding Scheme (GIFS), where focus will be on grassroots innovators that are at startup phase or trading in a small scale.

Source: Department of Trade and Industry