Welcome to Khayelitsha Barn, the first township tech hub in South Africa, established in 2016. Located at Lookout Hill in Cape Town, we’re the anchor of UVU Africa’s township technology innovation cluster. Our goal is to empower people in Khayelitsha and surrounding townships with the skills and platforms to benefit from the digital economy and 4th industrial revolution.
Our tech ecosystem is growing and broadening in scope, reaching neighbouring and connected communities. We’re ready to catalyse progress with our unique programme offering to increase funding and impact. Our model has proven to be impactful in supporting township-based entrepreneurs and small businesses to use technology and innovation to grow, as well as providing basic digital literacy programmes.
At Khayelitsha Barn, we’re committed to supporting more communities in the country, exponentially. We’re also well-positioned to act as a funnel for the skills pipeline, ensuring maximum participation of township youth in other programmes, including bespoke acceleration programmes and advanced digital skills training.
So far, we’ve supported 3,000+ township-based entrepreneurs and trained over 500 informal traders in smart technology.
Our vision is to design and create future-fit, inclusive societies by building the innovation ecosystem, providing digital skills training, and developing entrepreneurial skills and businesses through technology.
Programmes & outcomes
The reality in South Africa is that there is a digital divide that hinders optimal economic inclusion in previously disadvantaged communities. The lack of these basic skills limits the abilities of entrepreneurs and individuals to compete with their counterparts and access the online markets. We carefully crafted the interventions below to make the biggest impact in our communities and bring more people into the digital economy.
SmartTech programme for Informal Traders
Supporting informal traders in a 2-day training workshop to effectively use the technology tools available on their smartphones to increase process efficiency, market access, customer retention and turnover almost immediately.
Youth in Business Ideation Bootcamp
Supporting new entrepreneurs through a 10-day entrepreneurial ideation bootcamp, developed to help them think through their business concepts and provide them with the necessary steps to start their business. The 2-weeks bootcamp-style programme takes place from Monday – Friday (09:00 – 15:00) and the aspiring entrepreneurs are expected to participate in all the sessions where they work through a variety of activities designed to clarify, discuss, and apply the key concepts and information needed to succeed.
We provide professional mentorship matching to support entrepreneurs with business mentorship in a critical stage of their early journey. These mentors are equipped with insight specifically relating to helping entrepreneurs based in the townships.
The TownshipTech hackathon and pitch competition is a highlight on the calendar for the last 3 years. Sponsors come together and we engage with funders and stakeholders on problem statements – ask entrepreneurs and developers to come up with innovative ideas to solve these complex problems. Bespoke hackathons on relevant problem statements are hosted as and when required.
Pitch competitions (online / in person)
Allowing startups and new entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to a group of judges, receive feedback on their ideas and stand the chance to win some prize money, mentorship and support is a great way to see what exciting entrepreneurs and businesses are developing within the ecosystem. These competitions are a great tool to see what innovative ideas are coming from the entrepreneurs of the future.
Digital Citizen Programme (Basic computer skills)
The Digital Citizen Literacy programme is a fully funded programme that focuses on upskilling young people from the ages of 18-34 years, who reside in Khayelitsha and its surroundings. The purpose of this programme is to provide basic computer and digital skills.
Service Centre Project
There is potential to bring work closer to the people by developing a digital/tech-based service center, located at the Bandwidth Barn (Lookout Hill). Two separate pilot projects were launched with great success where newly digitally skilled candidates provide support in a service center model to township entrepreneurs. The candidates gain valuable experience and can build their portfolio of evidence and township-based businesses have access to a service that previously was not available to them on site.
Monthly events are hosted both in Khayelitsha and Woodstock and are open to entrepreneurs, investors, and the larger ecosystem. Web3, Biotech, Edtech specific, as well as compliance, marketing master classes and a variety of other thematic events are hosted to support learning, networking and ecosystem stimulation.
Become a Partner of Khayelitsha Barn and support the future of the youth and entrepreneurship within South Africa.
You can become involved by:
- Sponsoring a cohort on a programme and claiming branding rights.
- Become a partner/sponsor for a hackathon and pitch competition.
- Become an event sponsor.
- Fund a variety of activities and make a difference in the future of the youth.
Reach out to Marietjie Engelbrecht, UVU Group Head of Marketing, Ecosystem & Township Economy at Marietjie.firstname.lastname@example.org or 0828228399 if you want to collaborate or support the work we do at the Khayelitsha Barn