Written by Mergon Foundation
The second half of 2017 saw the founding of Triga Ventures as a non-profit organisation in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Its vision was “… solving some of Africa’s most pressing challenges by offering support to entrepreneurs on the ground and building redemptive ventures through committed partnerships”.
Philip Geldenhuys coordinated the initiative, being a co-founder of both Calling Education and Community Keepers as non-profits in earlier times, the latter where he served as CEO for ten years. He transitioned out of Community Keepers and as CEO became the driving force behind Triga Ventures.
The name origin and vision
At Triga, derived from the Greek word for a three-horse chariot, the belief is that ventures advancing education, health, food & agriculture, housing & infrastructure, as well as amongst others technology, have the potential to create large-scale change. Triga therefore views entrepreneurial ventures in these sectors as the iron chariots of Judges 1:19 – expertly designed mechanisms capable of bringing solutions to some of the most compelling issues of our times, while advancing the Kingdom of God.
Triga is committed to supporting the visionaries as the entrepreneurs on the ground, building redemptive ventures.
The following entities represent the operational activities of Triga Ventures at this stage:
The Accelerator is a six-month cross-sector training programme for 12 early-stage ventures with a focus on both the personal and spiritual development of the fellows. There are three annual gatherings that they attend. During these events, the entrepreneurs are exposed to and have the opportunity to become part of a culture-making force of inspirational peers, industry-leading mentors, innovative alumni, and value-aligned investors.
The final event is combined with the Triga Conference which includes a public pitch event attended by potential investors and donors. This event is also open to the public. During 2020, the three events will be held in Franschhoek (May), Johannesburg (August) and Stellenbosch (October).
Results from the 2018 Accelerator Alumni indicated that these 12 ventures have already created 190 new jobs, seen an average growth of 42% in annual revenue and received R22,491,000 in funding from Triga community members. All this in mere 12 months’ after completing the Accelerator.
The Triga Academy targets the next-generation Christian entrepreneurs, innovators and creatives. Young adults, between 18 and 25 years, from across South Africa and even Kenya attended the first weekend event held in September 2019. They had the opportunity to engage with Christian entrepreneurs and leaders who are integrating their faith into their ventures. This group of like-minded young people grappled with burning questions surrounding the Theology, Culture and Work intersection.
The Academy event in 2019 was the launch of a movement across all campuses and cities in Southern Africa – a kick-off to more meetings, courageous conversations and deep relationships to come in future.
One of the attendees posted the following on Instagram:
“Mind-blowing, inspirational and absolutely worth every kilometre we flew to attend … Triga Academy, you did not disappoint, so spiritually grounded yet entrepreneurial business focused! To learn from those who are changing South Africa … what a privilege to hear their stories and share in God’s family.”
The annual Triga Conference is open to all who are passionate about redemptive methodology and entrepreneurship.
At the annual conference – that was held in October 2019 at the Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch – the audience meet the passionate Triga Accelerator fellows who have the vision to solve some of Africa’s most urgent challenges by building redemptive ventures.
The guests also hear from Triga’s industry-leading mentors all motivated by their Christian faith to help equip the next generation of entrepreneurs.
One of the attendees of the 2019 Annual Conference commented: “Triga was such a refreshing experience to meet like-minded business people and journey with them, and then the absolute jackpot is the exposure to a range of mentors to whom you will most likely not have been exposed to otherwise.”
Triga Get Togethers
In January 2020, Triga will commence with its Get Togethers to be hosted in Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban and Johannesburg. These are open public events, and anyone interested in finding out more about the Triga Accelerator Programme and Triga Academy is invited to attend. At these events, Triga team members, some of Triga’s Accelerator mentors, as well as the Triga Alumni will be present.
Future vision and Mergon’s support
CEO Philip Geldenhuys summarises: “We love seeing the Triga family grow… We are not just a business network, but a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who are committed to seeking God’s Kingdom together. We aim to support and equip thousands of entrepreneurs over the years to come to build high-impact, redemptive ventures that will positively impact the lives of an inclusive, broader community in Africa.” He emphasised: “The role that the Mergon Foundation plays as a strategic partner of Triga is of vital importance to us. They support us both financially and assist us in building and expanding our network of entrepreneurs in South Africa and further afield.”
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