2 - 4 November 2020 | Hosted by the University of the Free State

The Durban University of Technology has every reason to be proud of the studentpreneurs it has produced

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) used its 30 minutes at last week's Student Entrepreneurship Week (#SEW2020) to brag about its achievements as it showcased successful businesses started by their studentpreneurs.

The pride they demonstrate, over their achievements, is no surprise. The Department of Higher Education and Training has ranked DUT as one of the top five leading universities in student entrepreneurship. Their mission statement underlies all their promotional material: "DUT Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation exists to contribute towards social economic development and job creation."

DUT is home to two business incubators (on the ML Sultan and Ritson campuses.) The nerve centre of entrepreneurship is The Entrepreneurial Centre and Desk Office (ECD), headed by Ms Nonhlanhla Khanyile (right). This Centre specialises in the creation, transformation, development and improvement of technology-based businesses. The Centre also seeks to make entrepreneurship interesting while developing an effective and efficient entrepreneurial ecosystem. DUT also runs other entrepreneurship programmes outside of the ECD.

Said Ms Khanyile: "We provide business advice, business support including coaching, mentoring and supporting entrepreneurs in all stages of the student entrepreneurs' business, through a structured process step by step. Over the two years we have developed over 80 new businesses and supported over 100 existing businesses. The development of these businesses requires active promotion of entrepreneurship."

In 2018, the Midlands ECD was established, offering studentpreneurs a diversified portfolio designed to meet both their needs, as well as those of the neighbouring community. Here the Centre provided budding entrepreneurs with start-up training, mentorship, seed funding and technical training.

Ms Nonhlanhla Khanyile

In 2020 the fledgling Midlands Centre incubated 86 students and trained over 615 in collaboration with the DUT Midlands academic department. They awarded 24 students with DUT seed funding and provided mentorship to 86 students. The end result is that they have created 47 permanent and 12 part time jobs.

Despite the pandemic, students proved to be resilient and innovative, receiving awards, endorsements and signed contracts with reputable businesses. One impressive programme is DUT Envision 2030. Its aim is to foster people who are creative, entrepreneurial and adaptive to changes in the world.

Across the various entrepreneurial training platforms, DUT has implemented projects designed to achieve this objective through accelerated entrepreneurship training (business start-up, Google skills, design thinking and intellectual property training.)

Success stories from student businesses

Below are examples of businesses which germinated from the Entrepreneurial Centre and Desk Office, and which have since blossomed and become established ventures.

Dorca Paints
Fantastic Hair Saloon
GnS Cleaning Services
KChelsea Cosmetics
Level Innovations

The list is much longer. Snapshots of other thriving businesses generated from the ECD Office include:

  • Ewah Cosmeceuticals, makes cosmetics and beauty products
  • Invenclick is a video production company
  • Sitheco Brands provides businesses with branding solutions
  • Turnup designs and manufactures Bluetooth wireless speakers along with
  • Ayondwe manufactures and sells retaining walls
  • Takkie Wash cleans dirty sneakers and shoes
  • Qalgreens provides energy solutions for homes and businesses
  • Scentence makes colognes and perfumes for men and women
  • No Luh Fashion
  • G&S cleaning and pest control services
  • Get2Natural makes organic hair products
  • D&S Solar Masters provide solar energy solutions for both businesses and homes
  • HML Volt Engineers providing engineering services
  • Inland Boerewors

In addition to the ECD Office, the DUT has helped produce many other student enterprises through the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). Examples of successes from the CEI are shared below.

Sphesihle Zondi is the founder of ST Travel Solutions, a company that specialises in transport and logistics services. 2020 has been an amazing year for him. His business has grown and he has four-folded his monthly revenue. Sphesihle managed to secure contracts with one of the biggest companies in South Africa, Durban based aluminium supplier and exporter, Hulamin. Before joining the Centre he had one vehicle; he now has four cars and four permanent employees.

Kukhanya Ndaba is a fourth year Bachelor of Education student and the CEO of Dikoruhm Financial Services, a company that he established in 2019. Kukhanya is accredited with the National Credit Regulator as a micro lender. He joined the Centre in 2019 and was mentored and awarded seed funding. He has three systems in place that allow him to conduct individual affordability studies, collect monthly instalments and allow his customers to apply for credit online.

Lungisile Dube is the founder and director of Forward Slash IT, a company that specialises in IT and computer repair services. He currently has three part time and two full time employees. He attended the SUT global entrepreneurship training in Thailand and received a National Youth Development Agency grant fund of 10 laptops. He also won the DUT start-up of the year award. He recently received a contract to facilitate level-three computer training for a SETA accredited learnership.

Gugu Zungu and Sphamandla Sibusiso are fourth year education students whose company Simabelwe Catering employs two part time and two permanent employees. Gugu won female studentpreneur of the year at the 2019 DUT Research and Innovation Awards.

Mbongiseni Ngubane, an accounting final year student at DUT, is the owner of Inzuzo Yokusa Enterprise, a successful pest control and disinfectant service company that was established in 2019.

DUT was one of the 20 public universities and four vocational education and training (TVET) colleges showcasing entrepreneurial work taking place within their campuses. Look out of more reports from #SEW2020, which will continue sharing for the next few days, on this platform.

Charmain Naidoo is an independent writer contracted by Universities South Africa

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