Google is going to launch a start-up incubator called Umbono in Cape Town in South Africa, the company has announced. The aim of the incubator is to provide support for the local ecosystem of technology in the country through offering Google mentorship, access to seed capital and angel investors to the local start-ups. According to Luke Mckend, the country manager of Google South Africa, the major focus of Umbono will be on the start-ups based on the web and mobile platforms which are providing solutions to local problems and also have some appeal in the regional scenario. The incubator will help these people transform their ideas into companies. The name Umbono seems fitting as it is the Zulu word for “idea” or “vision”.
The structure of the South African incubator will feature a six month programme, in which Umbono’s panel of Google representatives and angel investors will choose five start-ups to receive seed investments of $25,000 to $50,000. In its announcement about Umbono, Google said that the teams chosen for the incubator will get access to the free office space and bandwidth of Umbono along with a network of Google experts for mentorship which will be ready to advise these start-ups on anything from product design to legal incorporation.
This prospect is expected to attract a lot of young tech start-ups in the country as local bandwidth is very expensive in South Africa, and along with the bonus funding, the businesses will find this a great opportunity for boosting themselves. Cape Town, the home city of Umbono, is located in the south-western region of the country and it has always strived to position itself as the premier centre of technology and innovation in sub-Saharan Africa. A non-profit organization in the region called the Cape IT Initiative, which is dedicated towards developing the communications and information technology in South Africa has been lobbying Google and other companies like it to locate their incubators in the country for some time.