The Proof is in the Pudding – Celebrating a Year of Tangible Success with the SATSA Tourism Business Incubator and Sigma International Partnership

4 min read

Johannesburg, 3 April 2024 – Sigma International, a leader in business incubation and enterprise development, alongside SATSA, celebrates a milestone as they venture into the second year of their transformative partnership through the SATSA Tourism Business Incubator. This collaboration, initiated in May 2022, has been a beacon of growth and opportunity, merging the expertise of both entities to elevate the best of the best entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses within the vibrant tourism sector.

The inaugural year of the programme witnessed remarkable achievements, securing R5,5 million in enterprise and supplier development funding. This significant financial contribution led to an astounding increase in the monthly turnover of the top three incubatees by over R750,000, coupled with the creation of more than 20 new jobs.

Sigma International’s CEO and co-founder, Akash Singh, shared the programme’s impressive accomplishments, “Over 1,000 ‘needs-based’ business support interventions were conducted, including the creation of 21 websites and the completion of 40 sets of management accounts for our incubatees. Furthermore, we’ve invested R480,000 in essential tools and equipment to enhance operations. With the unwavering support of our first-year funders, we’re poised to elevate these successes to new heights in year two.”

David Frost, SATSA CEO, reflected on the programme’s impact, “With transformation at the core of our organisation, the Tourism Business Incubator is an effective programme for us to lead by example and create a ripple effect throughout our industry. We’re thrilled with the programme’s success in its first year, facilitating nearly R6 million in funding, boosting incubatee revenues, and supporting job creation. The enthusiastic industry support fuels our motivation, and we eagerly anticipate building on this momentum.”

The Programme’s Blueprint for Success

The incubation programme champions the growth of small businesses with a majority black ownership by inviting the tourism industry to fund and nominate top enterprises. Tailored business analyses and interventions pave the way for these businesses to thrive, supported by mentorship in business management, marketing, and financial skills through Sigma International’s ISO 9001:2015 accredited model. This holistic approach ensures sustainable growth and profitability for the incubatees while providing funders with valuable B-BBEE verification collateral.

“The commitment of SATSA members to the incubation programme not only fosters job retention and skill development but also empowers local communities through business growth and industry transformation,” Singh added.

Prominent industry players, including City Lodge Hotel Group, Protea Hotels by Marriott, BidTravel, and several others, have been instrumental in funding the first cohort of incubatees. Their collective effort underscores a shared vision for transformation and economic growth within the tourism sector.

Nine incubatees attended and exhibited at an industry General Managers’ Lunch event, themed Diverse Suppliers – Collective Success, hosted at City Lodge Hotel Fourways, on 26 March 2024. COO of City Lodge Hotels, Lindiwe Sangweni Siddo, and Director of Operations, Tony Balabanoff, highlighted the structured, impactful approach of the SATSA Tourism Business Incubator in driving transformation and achieving significant milestones in a relatively short period. Says Siddo “We’ve been really successful this past year with 17 candidates coming through the incubation process. Having a third party, Sigma International, who does all the heavy lifting and handholding, and who was our proxy in terms of places we couldn’t reach, was the best decision we ever made.”

Balabanoff echoes her sentiment, explaining that while they have always been committed to the journey of transformation, it was challenging to get the momentum going. “The SATSA Tourism Business Incubator really gave it structure. We’ve achieved a lot in a very short time due to having a framework and somebody helping us to drive this process. I’m thrilled that we’ve gone down this road.”

With 32 incubatees completing year one and 43 already onboarded for year two, there is great potential for further growth. “We are delighted that the broader industry and other associations, such as ASATA and FEDHASA, have answered the call and commenced similar journeys with Sigma International Business Incubators,” says Frost. “In this way more incubatees can be onboarded, and the impact of the programme boosted across the tourism value chain with linkages for procurement across funders.”

The partnership between Sigma International and SATSA is a shining example of industry collaboration, innovation, and progress. A campaign showcasing the programme’s successes is set to launch, with updates available across all SATSA channels, marking a new chapter of empowerment and prosperity in Southern Africa’s tourism landscape.

Watch the video here


About SATSA:

SATSA is a non-profit, member-driven association representing the region’s tourism sector. Established in 1969, SATSA provides a credible, comprehensive, and diverse network of tourism services, advocating professionalism, ethical conduct, and strategic industry growth.

About Sigma International:

Sigma International specialises in business incubation and enterprise development, offering a comprehensive range of support services to foster growth and success for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Through its accredited incubator model, Sigma International is at the forefront of driving economic development and innovation.

Issued by:

Big Ambitions

Kim Taylor  

076 825 5508