The Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative (CiTi), the oldest incubator in Africa, has recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Founded in 1999 by a group of civic activists, with the aim of building a future-fit, inclusive society through technology and innovation, the organisation today achieves this by creating globally competitive tech and innovation clusters to enable sustainable economic growth and greater employment.
Over the past two decades, CiTi has enjoyed many milestones which have included the launch of programmes such as VeloCiTi, comprising incubation and entrepreneurial programmes for tech startups and businesses wanting to scale; CapaCiTi to assist with the training of young South Africans for the digital/tech skill needs of business; and the Women In Business programme to help female-owned businesses adopt tech tools that can improve efficiency within their businesses. The organisation has also formed five Open Innovation Clusters – FinTech; EdTech; BioTech; TravelTech and DataTech – to increase the productivity of companies in these clusters through driving innovation and stimulating new businesses in the field. Another major achievement involved pioneering the first real-estate model for tech co-working in Africa with the launch of the Woodstock and Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barns which are the epicentre of the tech ecosystem in Cape Town and serve as the spaces where most of CiTi’s programmes and events are held.
CiTi has also transformed the economy and improved the lives of generations of people. This has been done at scale with its specialised incubator and accelerator programmes creating over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs and companies generating over $150 million in revenue. The organisation’s job skills programmes have placed over 1,200 previously unemployed young people into digital/technology careers and jobs and aims to place approximately 1,000 people each year.
Looking to the future, CiTi will continue to pursue areas that will be transformative in 20 years and have an impact in five years. With an entrepreneurial footprint in 9 African countries, it will be looking to expand further into Africa with the aim of building a future-fit, inclusive African society. The vision: to positively impact 20 million people in 20 cities over the next 20 years through new jobs, new business creation and greater educational opportunities.