The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Black Umbrellas (BU) have announced a partnership to provide technical and technological support to small black-owned businesses in South Africa.

CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini. Credit: CSIRand Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Black Umbrellas (BU) have announced a partnership

CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini. Credit: CSIR

 The two organisations recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cement this collaboration. The partnership, which comes at a time when South Africa’s economic recovery is under the spotlight, seeks to accelerate entrepreneurial growth and empowering small black-owned businesses by providing them with access to CSIR-developed technologies, as well as research and development infrastructure to improve their business endeavours. Most small businesses in the country are still reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and many still need support, which this partnership aims to provide.

Together, the organisations will identify companies for which new or existing technologies may be produced or manufactured to meet their supply chain requirements. The organisations will also identify other organisations or government departments who may be interested in providing funding for any joint initiatives arising from this agreement.

Black Umbrellas partners with entrepreneurs, enterprises, investors and communities, creating dynamic models to catalyse unique developmental and organisational solutions in order to drive an inclusive and sustainable economic future. The organisation focuses on developing qualifying black-owned businesses to a level where they can gain meaningful access to procurement, finance and networks and then facilitating access to these opportunities.

This supports the objectives of the CSIR strategy that aim to collaborate with the public and private sector to develop and localise technologies in order to advance industrial development in South Africa. The strategy is built around the vision of accelerating socio-economic prosperity in South Africa through leading innovation.

Speaking at the virtual signing event, CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini said that this partnership comes at a very important time in the CSIR’s history.

“This year marks 75 years of the CSIR’s existence and we are proud to join hands with BU in one of the key government objectives, which is to support small businesses in a bid to revive the South African economy and create jobs. This partnership with BU is a gateway to ensuring that we respond to our mandate of making a lasting impact on various lives through innovation, research and development, and consequently using sustainable methods to boost South Africa’s economy,” said Dlamini.

“Under this partnership, the CSIR and BU will be able to identify possible programme focus areas which incorporate technology, supply chain, off-take agreements and funding opportunities,” he added.

Mark Frankel, CEO of Black Umbrellas noted that “our vision is to be a valued partner in enabling equal and sustainable economic access and participation. We do this by inspiring, developing, mobilising and connecting entrepreneurial and innovative people, solutions and resources to effect positive economic and social change. The CSIR is a key enabler in unlocking South Africa’s future economic growth, particularly in terms of the “new economy”. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to partner with the CSIR and look forward to a long and meaningful relationship in scaling and accelerating South Africa’s small business eco-system.”