As unemployment among the South African youth skyrockets, entrepreneurial start-ups are fast becoming a necessity for South African school-leavers. The sad fact is the plethora of bright, young minds do not match the limited number of opportunities available.
An expanding enterprise development project, The J&B Hive, is seeking to address this issue and is quickly making waves among the budding creative entrepreneur community in Joburg.
Set on the corner of two busy streets in the heart of Braamfontein, the J&B Hive is a workspace and event venue freely accessible to the community and, most importantly, a creative incubator where local entrepreneurs can apply for equity-free investment to help grow their businesses.
“The J&B Hive is more than just a free space to work, but also an incubation hub for up-and-coming talent who need a little help to get their business up to the next level.
Established in 2015, The J&B Hive is funded by Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol. The initiative forms part of Diageo’s enterprise development programme and has quickly become an entrenched part of the local community.
“The J&B Hive is more than just a free space to work, but also an incubation hub for up-and-coming talent who need a little help to get their business up to the next level. One of Diageo’s commitments to South Africa is to help build sustainable businesses and jobs. The J&B Hive does just that,” says Zumi Njongwe, the marketing and innovations director of Diageo SA.
The J&B Hive has a membership community of 45 small businesses, all rooted in the creative industry. New membership recruitment happens on a bi-annual basis though an application process. Applicants are narrowed down through a stringent vetting process and, with only a limited number of places available each year, the stakes are high. Those that make it through will be given financial support, mentorship, training and access to a membership network filled with the potential for synergy. They will also enjoy free access to the coworking space and its top-class equipment, including Apple software, cameras, lighting and more.
In support of the wider creative community and to encourage further entrepreneurial growth, The J&B Hive also allocates complimentary weekly slots to non-members, where individuals or businesses can make use of the venue to either showcase their offering or host learning events. Again, this is an opportunity to meet other small business owners and build a foundation for possible collaboration.
J&B is a brand that was itself born through the collaboration of an Italian named Giacamo Justerini (the ‘J’) and an Englishman named Alfred Brookes (the 'B' in J&B) and made famous by Eddie Tatham in America. It is celebrating 250 years of history and tells the story of the good that happens when people work together.
As a company that operates in more than 180 countries worldwide, Diageo hopes that the Joburg-based J&B Hive will be the first of many around Africa and the globe. The idea is to create a global community that can tap into each other’s skills from across the world.
“Diageo’s goal is to empower the communities in which we work and operate. We are incredibly proud to fund such an important initiative as this one and to see people, businesses and communities thriving as a result,” says Njongwe.