SOUTH AFRICA – MultiChoice Group has announced the establishment of the MultiChoice Innovation Fund as an extension of its existing Enterprise Development Trust.

With the aspiration of being a pillar to propel small businesses forward, the innovation fund will invest in exciting new opportunities for innovators in the video entertainment industry and technology sectors, allowing them to bring their ideas and dreams to life, the pay-TV operator says.

“The video entertainment industry – and indeed the world as we know it – is on a fascinating digital trajectory and we need to ensure we are ahead of the pack if the continent’s entertainment industry is going to continue to grow sustainably and be globally competitive,” says Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group CEO.

“We anticipate that our innovation fund will spur original thinking and exciting new ideas that will lead to breakthrough moments for these growing entrepreneurs.”

With a strong focus on youth- and women-led businesses, the company says the innovation fund aims to address the gender gap and youth unemployment, as well as ensuring increased and sustained diversity and inclusion in the tech, media and film industries.

Looking ahead, it adds, the innovation fund’s strategy is to expand on the already 11 women-owned and four-youth owned businesses it has supported.

The MultiChoice Enterprise Development Trust was established in 2012 to help the group’s contribution to enterprise and supplier development within the ICT sector to be more focused and streamlined.

It believes the innovation fund will strengthen this focus, exclusively for South African entrepreneurs, start-ups and businesses with a turnover of up to R50 million (US$3.31m).

There will be a specific focus on innovation in broadcast technology, innovative content, digital and Internet solutions, and business processing.

“We want to partner with South Africa’s most exciting entrepreneurs – giving them the tools, skills and financial support to bring their original ideas to life,” Mawela explains.

“We hope to help create cutting-edge solutions and competitive businesses that will shape the future of South Africa’s technology sector and video entertainment industry.”

The company says the innovation fund will help successful beneficiaries with relevant financial support tailored to the specific circumstances of each business case.

As part of its search for entrepreneurs, MultiChoice Group is embarking on a nationwide roadshow, supported by various regional development and funding agencies, including the Limpopo Development Agency, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal and Wesgro, to host business-tailored seminars for entrepreneurs and SMEs.

The seminars will be an opportunity to meet with key stakeholders, network with fellow entrepreneurs and learn about industry trends in the country and globally, the company says.