National Entrepreneurship Intervarsity Finals
Three students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) scooped three of the five contested entrepreneurship awards at the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity finals which concluded in Johannesburg yesterday. UCT students won the Best Existing Technological Business, Best Existing Social Impact Business and also snatched up the national Student Entrepreneur 2019 award.
The winning students, per category, were:
Each of the four winners above was awarded a trophy and a R10,000 prize intended to bolster their business. Mvelo Hlophe, who walked away with the Student Entrepreneur of 2019 title for the best existing business with potential to make ground-breaking social impact, also received a R50,000 prize. His online platform, ZAIO, not only responds to creating innovative software solutions for business; it stands to rescue hundreds of young software development developers from shackles of poverty.
Also at the national finals, the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) Programme recognised individuals making outstanding contributions to entrepreneurship - both at national and institutional level. Mrs Letitia de Wet, Chief Executive of ENACTUS South Africa was recognised for her significant contribution to advancing the national agenda for entrepreneurship development in higher education. Her trophy recognised a decade's worth of relentless effort, developing student entrepreneurship programmes through Enactus SA across 26 universities. In her absence, De Wet's trophy was accepted on her behalf by Ms Tshepo Cebekhulu.
For Dr Martin Combrinck, Head of Department: Senior FET Phase in the Cape Peninsula University of Technology's Faculty of Education on Wellington Campus, the biggest benefit came in the new information he obtained on different management approaches and styles and the matrix the facilitators used for self-evaluation. "It was good to reflect and get a sense of my own management and leadership practice, and to share with other colleagues. There is always room for improvement of what one does." Dr Combrinck, for whom this was also the first HELM exposure, said anyone in middle management would benefit from this experience.
Dr Clarke went on to state that getting students to start and sustain businesses while maintaining high performance in their studies was no easy feat. At the Durban University of Technology, studentpreneurs were even supplying the university - thanks to the driving spirit of Professor Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, who had galvanised entrepreneurship not just within her portfolio but across disciplines and faculty. "As a result, DUT found a way to support students as suppliers across the participating disciplines and faculty."
An audience representing academics driving entrepreneurship at all 26 public universities, officials from the Department of Higher Education and Training and Universities South Africa as well representatives of business and industry packed the Southern Sun's Ilanga hall full at the OR Tambo International Airport.
"I am excited," said Dr Diane Parker, Deputy Director General, University Education from the DHET. "We created the EDHE platform with USAf to produce studentpreneurs: the movers and shakers who will create jobs in the South African economy for the next 10-20 years and lead this country to the socio-economic development that we need. Having started with seed funding from the University of Johannesburg, it is fantastic to see what the programme has grown to under the leadership of Dr Norah Clarke.
"In EDHE, we envisioned a programme that would turn academics into catalysts for change at universities, and who would mould their institutions into changed environments. This is not just about learning facts but also about creating a new culture; to get people thinking differently about how we interact with the world. You, the young people who can innovate, represent a seed, with your academics, in influencing this change about how we can interact together to create a better South Africa."
In opening the event, Professor Ahmed Bawa, USAf's Chief Executive, had said South Africa's universities produce 24,000 peer-reviewed research products annually. "I wonder why we don't translate these papers into new products for the market. This was the disjuncture between our knowledge enterprise and making it work for society and the economy."
In response, Dr Parker admitted that the DHET's incentive for publishing was partly at fault. To correct this anomaly, Dr Parker announced that her department was creating a new policy to incentivise outputs, not papers. When this policy takes off, "you, young people who create out of research, products that serve society, will be rewarded."
The six award winners including the runners-up were part of the 27 finalists who had made it to these finals by winning at their institutional and regional competitions. In total, 15 universities were represented in the final round of the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity Competition 2019. In addition to the institutions represented by the winning students, other contenders for the top positions were the Central University of Technology, the Durban University of Technology, Nelson Mandela University, North-West University, Sol Plaatje University, the University of Johannesburg, the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the University of Limpopo, the University of South Africa, the University of Venda and the Vaal University of Technology.
To all the 27 finalists, Prof Bawa said "You are all heroes. We are now celebrating you. Now that you are in the spotlight we will be watching you, year on year. We hope you optimise this, the best platform you've had for innovation."
In due course, the DHEN will share the detailed profiles of the winning students.
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