BY Gavin Emmanuel 5 MINUTE READ
Silicon Cape as a leading ecosystem connector recently launched their new Africa-first strategic membership plan to enable the accelerated inclusion of diverse tech startups and grow the dynamism of the ecosystem.
Silicon Cape, the leading organisation for supporting technology innovation and entrepreneurship in South Africa, launched their Africa-first 2021 Strategic Plan alongside a new membership model for those seeking to connect to the local and global tech scene. 
The strategy aims to connect stakeholders, amplify the stories of the continent’s tech innovators, advocate on behalf of the ecosystem as a collective and build bridges with other international hubs in order to grow the continent. 
“It is great to see the energy in what is developing here in this ecosystem in the Southern tip of Africa, the kind of entrepreneurs that are using this space to not only develop solutions and innovations for our region in Africa but using this region to develop innovations and solutions for the world,” shares Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities.
The new membership model offers different paid-for plans that provide local and global innovation stakeholders curated access to the ecosystem, access to support resources and access to marketing opportunities through the Silicon Cape platforms. Plans start at only R500 annually.
Membership also incorporates bespoke tech tours for visitors to the ecosystem; highlighting the work being done by key startups and innovation spaces. There is also a strong focus on building the networks for student entrepreneurship to capitalise on and accelerate the rising number of student ventures. 
“I’m very excited about the launch of the Silicon Cape membership model,” states Xabiso Lombo, CEO and co-founder of Guardian Gabriel, “As an aspiring entrepreneur and as a student entrepreneur I urge them to target entrepreneurs in universities because that’s where the passion lies, that’s where the spirit is, and this is the space I believe student entrepreneurs should be in. 
The network that is being created is of great value to student entrepreneurial spirit and can help them propel their entrepreneurial ventures into the world.”
Financial Independence and Sustainability 
As an NPO, Silicon Cape has created a model that benchmarks itself against international best practice to effectively ensure independence and achieve financial sustainability. 
“Silicon Cape’s new Africa-first membership model launch gave them an opportunity to update their members on what they are doing in helping us create this amazing ecosystem, this tech innovative space, where we can do things in Africa for Africa,” comments Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde. “What stood out for me from the launch is how they’ve come up with an innovative model where no one member can take an overbearing role in the organisation and I believe that in itself will be an innovative way in which business chambers and other sector bodies are going to look at the way they fund themselves. This is the most amazing way for government to become a member of an organisation like Silicon Cape.”
The shift away from a single source of corporate or government donor funding aligns to the strategic goal to stimulate inclusivity. Critically, the new model allows Silicon Cape to hold a closer working relationship with a wider range of stakeholders through clearly articulated relationships. 
The 2021 Silicon Cape Strategy incorporates the inputs of ecosystem clusters post a series of “Courageous Conversations” to gain insights from innovation incubators, accelerators, enablers, service providers, funders and entrepreneurs.
Across the four 3-hour conversations, 34 members of the Silicon Cape ecosystem, representing a variety of stakeholder clusters, shared their views and ideas around Silicon Cape’s potential value proposition.
Throughout the conversations participants shared a concern that, just as South Africa, the Western Cape and Cape Town itself are grappling with persistent inequality of wealth and access to opportunity, so is this the case within the Cape tech ecosystem. 
There was strong agreement that Silicon Cape must stand for the accelerated inclusion of more and more tech entrepreneurs and ‘wantrepreneurs’ into the widening tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Cape region.
“The research from the recently released Endeavour Insight report on the broader Cape ecosystem, emphasised how well networked the ecosystem is, but, also, how critical it will be to continue to grow connections between stakeholders if we are to maintain the dynamism of the ecosystem. Our community’s strength comes from our connections. 
That parts of our ecosystem are good at talking to each other and leveraging collectively, I think, speaks to Silicon Cape’s success historically. However, it also positions this membership model going forward. 
This is how we plan to grow the connections more inclusively and maintain the dynamism of the ecosystem,” comments Kerry Petrie, General Manager of Silicon Cape. 
The Membership Plans
The Orange membership plan is billed at R500 annually and the Yellow at R1500 annually. Benefits for both include preferential rates to the Silicon Cape Showcase, access to other members and thus opportunities through the website, inclusion in meetings, access to online resources, preferential rates for VC hours as well as preferential rates and access to partner events. 
Entrepreneurs joining the Orange membership plan will also have access to the Silicon Cape networks for advocacy issues. What sets the Yellow membership plan apart is that it also includes a curated presence for members at the Silicon Cape Showcase, a profiling of the member during Tours of the SA ecosystem, preferential rates and access to the international trade-show and Silicon Cape will also profile Yellow members’ events on their social media pages as well as profile members themselves in the official Silicon Cape newsletter.
The fees for corporates are reasonable for what is expected and offered in exchange. The rates range from R15 000 annually to R200 000. Corporates, sponsors and investors will be able to tap into a pool of African tech talent, have their events or needs and visions profiled on the Silicon Cape social media pages and in the newsletter, have their presence felt at trade shows and showcases, and in exchange will merely need to agree to be a speaker on behalf of the Silicon Cape ecosystem at the odd occasion. 
Sponsors and investors opting for the Purple membership plan, which clocks in as the most expensive plan at R200 000 per year, will also at times need to open their doors as a venue for Silicon Cape events.
Moving Forward with Strategic Partnerships
In a first for Cape Town, Silicon Cape has now partnered with Startup Guide to bring its popular entrepreneurial guidebook series to Cape Town with support from SAP Next-Gen.  
Packed with city essentials, practical information, in-depth interviews and insightful tips, Startup Guide Cape Town will guide, empower and inspire entrepreneurs in the coastal South African city to transform their startup ideas into reality. 
To ensure an accurate and trustworthy guide, the book is co-created with the local startup community – with Silicon Cape leading the charge.
“Silicon Cape is thrilled to be partnering with Startup Guide to produce the first ever African and Southern Hemisphere guide for Cape Town,” says Kerry Petrie, General Manager at Silicon Cape, “We are always looking for ways to tell the story of our local ecosystem, its innovative stakeholders and its strong network connections. 
Startup Guide allows us to tell this story to a wider, international audience. We are excited for Cape Town to join the network of cities such as London, Hamburg, Tel Aviv and Paris.”
The key network players of the startup community is starting to put Cape Town on the international innovation map.