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ASATA launches business incubator to strengthen tourism development and drive transformation

ASATA (The Association of Southern African Travel Agents) has announced that it will launch a non-profit business incubator for its members in the travel industry on 10 March 2023. The business incubator aims to further strengthen and streamline the tourism sector’s B-BBEE transformation agenda in an impactful manner as it recovers from COVID. It will offer Enterprise and Supplier Development services for ASATA members.

The ASATA business incubator will be established as a non-profit arm of the organisation to enable its members to earn Enterprise Development (ED points) and Supplier Development (SD points) towards their B-BBEE scorecard, in an effort to drive transformation that will have far-reaching benefits across the industry. More importantly by using a collective platform it allows for higher impact, economies of scale and significantly larger linkages for beneficiaries.

It allows ASATA members to redirect a preferred percentage of their ED or SD investment spend to the business incubator which will help strengthen the industry’s collective transformation efforts in a no-hassle manner that is ISO 9001:2015-accredited and fully tax deductible.

“We have identified the need for an industry-led business incubator to build and further strengthen South Africa’s travel and eventing industry, particularly in a post-COVID environment, as tourism is a backbone industry and an integral player in our national economic recovery,” says Otto de Vries, ASATA CEO. “By aggregating investment spend, ASATA can have a much greater impact on the travel industry, while increasing transformation buy-in and reach,” he adds.

ASATA members will help sponsor up to 60 beneficiaries per financial year at a cost of R95 000 (excluding VAT) and provide custom-made (needs based), programmes suited to each of the beneficiaries and their businesses, for a period of one year (aligned to the financial year end of the funder). It will allow travel businesses the flexibility to contribute towards the transformation of a number of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) that are at least 51% black-owned, rather than channelling their transformation funds to a single organisation.

“We aim for the business incubator to be industry-led, so that staff can be part of the beneficiary selection process and transformation journey led by their employers. ASATA can also nominate beneficiaries on a business’ behalf with some guidance as to the intentions of their transformation spend,” continues de Vries.

ASATA has partnered with Sigma International, an award-winning, level 1 B-BBEE company, to launch its travel business incubator. Sigma International has already established similar tried-and-tested business incubators for the Department of Tourism and a number of large industry stakeholders across various sectors such as tourism, mining and forestry and paper.

“Our six other travel incubators have already impacted 258 beneficiaries, big and small, across the entire tourism value-chain nationwide,” says Akash Singh, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Sigma International. “We hope that once ASATA’s business incubator gains traction we will be able to welcome even more beneficiaries in the following financial year,” he concludes.

While the business incubator only launches on 10 March, it has already received a positive response from a number of industry stakeholders who are interested in channelling their transformation spend through the platform.

“We at The Club Travel Group have already committed some of our transformation spend to this novel idea as we believe that true and lasting transformation needs to be a collective effort that has real impact on the ground,” says Gary Mulder, CEO at The Club Travel Group.

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