Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company, is about to help take some of South Africa's startups and small businesses to the next level of their business journey. This is after AWS announced the launch of its Equity Equivalent Investment Program (EEIP) in South Africa which will see it invest over R365 million into the development of 100% black-owned South African small businesses within the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

The main part of this development will involve supporting the black-owned South African businesses to become cloud computing experts using the AWS Partner Network (APN).

“We have been blown away with the high quality of technical talent we have already seen in South Africa and are excited to see the creativity and unique thinking that the AWS EEIP will now drive. Through this new program, we are committed to producing a new generation of highly skilled and productive black-owned South African small businesses.These new APN Partners will help create limitless opportunities for our customers, helping them to innovate and further contribute to economic growth of South Africa," said Prabashni Naidoo, Director at Amazon Web Services South Africa.

AWS already has a presence in South Africa along with some notable corporate clients.

Empowering South African small businesses

EEIP is a program of South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), aimed at providing multinational companies an opportunity to take part in the development of South African black-owned small businesses and to contribute towards the broad-based black economic empowerment of South Africa.

The AWS EEIP is a seven year program that will support the growth of new black-owned small businesses, helping them to develop their skills in advanced technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML), mobile technologies, and more.

“The AWS EEIP will lead to the development of numerous highly skilled jobs in the local economy.  The intention of the program is to give the black-owned small businesses the knowledge, resources, and skills to be successful.  This will enable them to provide professional services to organizations, in both the private and public sectors, supporting them with their ICT strategy and helping them to take advantage of cloud computing and other digital technologies in order to innovate and grow. We seek to develop local businesses and ensure net job creation in the South African economy," said Ebrahim Patel, South Africa's Minister of Trade and Industry.

Enterprise development and incubation

The AWS EEIP will support the 100% black-owned South African small businesses through an 18 - 24-month enterprise development and incubation program.

This program will involve AWS providing training and education and support the development of these businesses’ technical expertise in cloud computing - resulting in new AWS Certified Developers and Solutions Architects.  These businesses will also receive business enablement support such as exposure to industry leaders, coaching, mentorship, and funding to help take their business to the next stage of growth. As these businesses complete their training, and gain AWS competencies, they will go up a tier in the APN, becoming Select or Advanced Partners.

Upon completion of the program, these businesses will have access to AWS’s ecosystem of millions of active customers, of every size, across virtually every industry around the world successful completion of the program will also enable tbe businesses to have exposure to opportunities beyond that of AWS.

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