Turnkey business solutions provider Modular has launched its Modularise initiative and show room, in Pretoria.
The Modular Innoboxes are made from reusable storage containers and contain the hardware, software and educational content to run a successful business in a micro economy.
The units are equipped with solar power, Internet of Things-enabled devices, training content, satellite Internet, cashless systems, standardised business processes and preventive security systems.
Units are insured, have low running costs and can be used for social or business functions.
Speaking to Engineering News Online, Modularise team leader Hasan Darwish said the project can change the face of community empowerment.
“Instead of spending money outside the community for services and products, this concept ensures sustainable solutions within these communities, which will ultimately improve the socioeconomic status of these communities and contribute to the South African economy,” he noted.
Darwish added that Modular Innobox's vision is to provide a continuous operational, educational and financial relationship with the mainstream economy.
In many cases, he said, people from microeconomies are unable to start their own businesses because it is too expensive and risky.
The Modularise showroom is in the process of creating new types of small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) for Bottom of Pyramid (BoP) communities.
The Modularise model is a four-tiered learnership growth model aimed at better defining a growth path for young entrepreneurs.
BoP entrepreneurs are assessed and introduced into the innovation lab where they are given training.
“Should they pass the requirements of that level, they will be provided with funding to own and operate a business in a box of that level.”
Darwish noted that, instead of graduating with a degree or certificate from the Modularise model, individuals graduate with a business.
Modularise entrepreneurs must return to the innovation lab should they want to upskill themselves to a higher level or change course.
Funding comes from corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives, banks and businesses aiming to find owners for their remotely managed microfranchises.
In each case, the repayment of the loan will differ.
The funder will also assist the entrepreneur with advice on how to best repay and capitalise on their asset.
“Modular Innobox operates a mixed-income model. The first element is like that of a car showroom. This is because the unit is sold at profit with its maintenance plan included.
“In the case of CSI, the monthly repayments are reinvested into a revolving fund. In the case of a bank, the money is deducted immediately from the income of the unit,” he said.
Darwish states that many nonprofit organisations are starting to realise that creating self-sustainable initiatives is the best way to create jobs and facilitate economic growth.
“Incentivised assets are the best way to gain community interest, buy-in and ensure a sustainable project in low-income communities. Growth for businesses into underserved markets has proven difficult and managing social, financial and environmental sustainability is complicated,” he said.
Modular is currently seeking investors and partners to launch a pilot of its Modularise model and show how it can create turnkey upliftment (social and business).