Businesses offer insight to visiting entrepreneurs

Reno Gazette-Journal

PHOTO ALBUM: South African Young Entrepreneur Group arrives at the airport in Reno

The first of at least two groups of South African entrepreneurs is scheduled to start five-week internships this week at some Reno and Lake Tahoe-area companies to network and learn about American business practices.

The Northern Nevada International Center in Reno and Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village recently received a $352,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to host 25 of the entrepreneurs during a two-year period.

The college's partnership with the center will provide unpaid five-week internships to 25 entrepreneurs between ages 25 and 35. They were selected in South Africa based on interviews with government officials there, U.S. Embassy representatives and the project partner, South Africa-based Evo Media. Since picked, participants have been taking part in SNC's online mentoring program.

Young entrepreneurs from South Africa recently arrived at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport to participate in an enrichment program at Sierra Nevada College. The two-year program is designed to build business development capacity in the country.

Interns work in their specified disciplines Monday through Thursday and study Fridays to receive an entrepreneurship certificate through SNC.

C4Cube, FLF Films, Ormat Nevada Inc., Quantum Loyalty Systems Inc. and Sierra Angles are among host businesses.

"We're looking forward to teaching them skills they can use to turn their ideas into energies of economic growth to help the South African economy," said Rick Normington, SNC business department chairman. "Instead of giving money, it's to help them develop their own economy."

Selected U.S. mentors will travel to South Africa for 10 days in September to follow up with the interns, provide coaching for other start-up businesses and learn about the South African business climate.

The next group of entrepreneurs with the program arrives here in October.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, South Africa has the lowest entrepreneurial activity rate of all developing countries and the lowest rate of new company start-ups.