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South Africa is the second largest and the most technologically developed economy in Africa. However, according to the World Bank, South Africa is also the most unequal country in the world. A full report published by the World Bank states that the country’s extreme inequality is due to “inherited circumstances over which an individual has no control”. In other words, the racial inequalities of the past still continue to structure the distribution of wealth in South Africa. Unfortunately, despite measures taken to redistribute wealth, inequality, unemployment, and a lack of access to even basic needs remain systemic problems. The situation therefore requires a drastic intervention to speed up the tempo of change.
Accelerating economic transformation in order to cultivate positive social change is one of the key drivers behind the MIC Khulisani Ventures initiative. MIC is an active equity partner that funds highly scalable and innovative businesses, and in 2021 launched MIC Khulisani Ventures, an early stage investment vehicle specifically designed for black entrepreneurs. The focus of MIC Khulisani is on innovative and highly disruptive South African businesses across a diverse range of sectors, especially technology driven start-ups.
South Africa’s digital technology industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated the process of digitisation of our economy. However, black run tech start-ups often struggle to find the right funding partners and access to adequate capital they need to grow their businesses. According to a 2022 report by the Competition Commission, if this gap is not addressed it could lead to an even further widening of the virtually ubiquitous inequality we see in South Africa. It is for this reason that MIC specifically invests in black tech-led businesses due to their high growth promise and potential to radically transform the economy in the service of the majority of South Africans.
This is the second year the initiative has run, with this year’s theme centered around the concept of Blacceleration. The concept is a portmanteau of acceleration and black and functions as a useful means of signifying to audiences the ethos of MIC Khulisani Ventures.
While in recent years ‘accelerate’ has become a key word used by the business world, accelerationism is a concept mostly confined to highly niche academic circles. Accelerationism refers to a social theory that claims that social progress is made possible by investing heavily in technological innovation. In other words, acceleration here refers to the drastic intensification of social change through the means of venture capital investment.
Inspired by the ideas put forward by accelerationist thinkers, MIC championed a unique form of accelerationism, specifically targeted at uplifting black South Africans. Blacceleration is the desire for change and the refusal to continue to wait for it. It is important to understand that blacceleration is also something that you do, and not simply advocate for without doing anything. Blacceleration is a word which describes the deliberate act of investing into the innovations of black entrepreneurs for the purpose of positive social change.
This year’s MIC Khulisani Ventures initiative saw a record number of applications. A sign that many share MIC’s vision of faster positive social change.
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