Black Umbrellas

Developing Africa's Future Black Businesses Together


Black Umbrellas was first conceived as the Black Umbrellas, a project spearheaded by Cape Town social entrepreneur Charles Maisel and Mark Frankel to support SMMEs. In 2009 the Foundation (now Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation) partnered with Black Umbrellas to escalate the project countrywide with R5.2 million invested in the set up and operations of a Gauteng office. Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, is deeply committed to the vision of Black Umbrellas as a catalyst in the development of entrepreneurs, a sector he has identified as critical to the empowerment of historically marginalised South Africans. Shareholding in the Group is held in two trusts: The Fundani Education Trust and the Mabindu Business Development Trust, the latter of which supports Black Umbrellas.


Black Umbrellas is a non-profit enterprise development incubation organisation partnering with the private sector, government and civil society to address the low levels of entrepreneurship and high failure rate of 100% black owned emerging businesses in South Africa. The programme focuses on promoting entrepreneurship as a desirable economic path, and nurturing 100% black-owned businesses in the critical first three years of their existence through the provision of nationwide incubators.


The Black Umbrellas model is aimed at supporting emerging black businesses through the incubation programme so that they are able to emerge as independent, viable businesses. Fundamental to the success of the model is a tiered intervention, where applicants/clients transition and bolster their business through successive levels of activation. The programme activation begins with a pre-incubation phase (3 months), followed by full incubation (3 years) through to graduation.

The Black Umbrellas model uses its national reach to enable clients to benefit from guided mentorship, through which clients receive the transfer of business skills, knowledge and network linkages. The businesses are assessed for their credit risk and an advisory committee offers their technical experience to assess the weaknesses and strengths of the businesses.

Ongoing support through the incubation centres and the office infrastructure linked to these include: 

  • Bookkeeping services at standard rates;
  • Access to networking & marketing events;
  • Ongoing mentoring;
  • Assistance with finance access;
  • Workshops aimed at business & personal development. 

Currently incubators are fully operational in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Mooinooi, Lephalale, Pretoria, Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth.


Website Visit website
Location Johannesburg, South Africa
Targets South Africa
Sectors Sector agnostic