Free Business Education From Regenesys and Microsoft

The Regenesys Foundation in partnership  with Microsoft4Afrika  is offering a Scholarship Programme. The initiative is explained as follows:

This initiative is designed to groom future leaders by providing access to quality, online tertiary business education, from higher certificate to diploma. The programme will see 1 000 scholarships being made available to deserving candidates through Regenesys Business School, a global leader in management and leadership development. This great new initiative will help you to empower yourself and change your life.

There are 1000 spots available, including entry into diploma and degree programmes.
To apply for the scholarships, please visit this site. Click here. 
The video below provides an introduction as to what is on offer.

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Co-operative Incentive Scheme (CIS)

Co-operative Incentive Scheme (CIS)
The Co-operative Incentive Scheme (CIS) is a  90:10 matching cash grant for registered primary co-operatives
(a primary co-operative consists of five or more members
who are historically disadvantaged individuals). The
CIS is an incentive for co-operative enterprises in the
emerging economy to acquire competitive business
development services, and the maximum grant that can
be offered to one co-operative entity under the scheme is
R350 000.
• Promote co-operatives through the provision of a matching grant;
• Improve the viability and competitiveness of co-operative enterprises by lowering the cost of doing business;
• Assist co-operatives to acquire their start-up requirements;
• Build an initial asset base for emerging co-operatives to enable them to leverage other support; and
• Provide an incentive that supports broad-based black economic empowerment.
the dti Incentive Schemes brochure ver3.indd 6 2013/01/10 2:38 PM7
Eligible entities
• Incorporated and registered in South Africa in terms of the Co-operatives Act of 2005 (Act No. 14 as amended);
• Operating or will operate in the emerging sector;
• Adhere to co-operatives principles;
• Emerging co-operatives owned by historically disadvantaged individuals;
• Rural and semi-urban based; and
• Biased towards women, youth and people with disability.
Eligible Activities
• Business development services;
• Business profile development;
• Feasibility studies/market research;
• Production efficiency;
• Technological improvement projects;
• Plants and machinery;
• Start-up requirements; and
• Working capital requirements.
For more information on the Co-operative Incentive Scheme, click here.

Links No.2 – Startup Culture, Startup Structure

The last few weeks have been one of reflection as I worked through my many ideas, and reflected on the end of seven years being self employed. The guideline over this period was simple – do not end start 2014, the same way you ended 2013. The goal was deliberately vague but got more concrete as I went along. The articles below were helpful during this process, and I hope you will find something of value as you start the year, and hopefully start that idea that been lingering in your heart.

Sleep and the entrepreneur 

Sleep, beautiful sleep. Nick Cox is a developer who makes a foundational point on the importance of sleep to anyone involved in a startup. This article resonated with me, because I have functioned on a few hours of sleep for a couple of months know. Read the article, and do not be guilty for having a good nights sleep. Click here.

Walala Wasala (You snooze you lose)

 In the middle of a article on Foursquare, Om Malik,  makes some telling points about starting up. The last four paragraphs tell the startup story as it is. The article  provides the reality check that we all need. Starting up is not easy, and there is no one better to explain this than Om Malik. Read the article, by clicking here.
It includes a  sentence, which is now my standard response to all those corporate dudes in banks that want to tell us about small business in South Africa, and who regularly turn down applications for funding from small businesses. The sentence reads as:

Peel away their sharkskin and you find they have never started a company, and they continue to live in the reflective glory of the company that once employed them.

The last comment is not just meant to be snarky, but  a reality check that the debate on small business and entrepreneurship is  led by people who have not started a business, and who advocate policy without reference to their own practices.

Compact Dreams

One of the problems entrepreneurs have is that the dream is unimplementable. The dream is so large, so full of texture and the founder is so demanding of herself that they are unable to take the first steps to realising that dream. I have this problem. One of the more important articles I have read on solving this problem is Craig Mods article on sub-compact publishing. The idea of building a rapid prototype or minimal viable product is captured in this article. Whilst it speaks specifically on online magazine publishing, the broader lessons on starting small and keeping things simple applies across any conceivable startup. Click here to read the article. 
A useful supplement to the ideas provided by Craig Mod, is an approach to understanding your startup ideas that classifies them as “hobby, science experiment, suicide and do it”.  As someone who has created weighting systems (with literally over 20 variables) to decide between ideas, the simplicity of this approach has been important.  Click here to learn if your idea is a hobby, suicide, experiment or something your should do. 

Roberto Unger on Small Business 

Roberto Unger is one of the most important intellectuals of our time, in my honest opinion. This interview on BBC Hard Talk with Roberto Unger presents an important set of ideas on small business and economic democracy. The video appears on the SACSIS website, click here to see the video. The highlight for me is the idea that small business should be given access to advanced technologies as a way to make society more equal. This has been an idea that we have been testing on Zapreneur.  The interview is a very useful reminder that as we start stuff it must link to this broader vision of economic democracy. This video was much needed inspiration for me as we implement an improved version of Zapreneur.