VUT SEW2021 COMPETITION A SUCCESS, WINNERS ANNOUNCED
By Qhawekazi Memani 29 November 2021
Prosper Mahlangweni; Thabang Madisa and Sipho Robert Haraba
Congratulations are in order for the students who won the Student Entrepreneurship Week 2021 Pitch, (SEW2021).
Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE), a programme of the Department of Higher Education, in collaboration with Universities South Africa (USAf), a movement in student entrepreneurship that has been growing rapidly across the country through the Student Support Services Department, hosted a Student Entrepreneurship Week (SEW) from 25 – 27 October 2021 in the Foyer of the Desmond Tutu Great Hall.
The primary purpose of Student Entrepreneurship Week is to raise awareness of entrepreneurship in its different forms as an alternative to formal employment. At SEW, “Students are challenged to have career options in place, should they not be employed upon graduating. Students also get challenged to consider entrepreneurial ways to supplement their income while studying, for example by participating in the gig economy or trying their hand at drop shipping”, said Dr Mchunu; Executive Director: Student Support Services and EDHE Entrepreneurship coordinator at VUT: Onica Thandi Matsheke.
In addition, Ms. Matsheke said, “in a context where students struggle to make ends meet while studying, the message is that they might try their hand at some form of businesses, thus pursuing the best of the academic world alongside the business world.”
SEW2021 was sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE). The students who won the competition are due to receive vouchers which will assist them for the operations of their businesses.
Students won under the following categories:
Category 1 : Innovative New Business Ideas:
1st place, Jeffery Rofhiwa Matshavha : Health care
2nd, Rethabile Japhta Mmutlane : Social Emotional Help
3rd, Gugu Precious Manyama : Laundry App
4th place, Sipho Robert Haraba : Energy generator.
Category 4 : Existing Businesses:
1st place, Prosper Mhangwana : Clothing
2nd, Virginia Magada : Bakery
3rd , Thabang Madisa : Clothing
4th , Mawila Muponisi : Clothing.
Students looking to improve and grow their businesses can enter the EDHE competition where they will be pitching for R100 000,00 in 2022.
Some of the excited winners shared their thoughts on entrepreneurship as a whole and their overall experience of SEW. Here is what they shared:
“Entrepreneurship is interesting and challenging as well because there’s very limited opportunities out there to support our ideas. The main challenge being funding. On the other hand, SEW was a wonderful experience, despite the fact that there were a few unavoidable challenges, i.e. load shedding that prevented us from completing the competition as planned. The learning experience was superb,” said Jeffery Rofhiwa Matshavha : VUT Mechanical Engineering student and the 1st place winner under the Innovative Business Idea Category.
Thabang Madisa, 1st year Policing Student and 3rd place winner under the Existing Business category said, “Entrepreneurship is a way of allowing young people with talents to reach their greater potential. The SEW was a bit tense because there was no electricity on campus and I had to travel back home to Limpopo without having done everything I had planned to do. Luckily, we were then given the opportunity to pitch online and fortunately I managed to win and that made me think of many greater heights I can reach because every single journey begins with a first step.”
Emmanuel Omokhegbe is a VUT Biomedical Technology who also took part in the Student Entrepreneurship week. “Until 5 years ago, I wasn’t really into Entrepreneur, neither did I have the mindset/drive to make money or do something innovative or even come up with a better way to make life better. After observing some start-ups grow and build and help the community, I developed an intense passion for it and I wanted to learn and know all about Entrepreneurship and what it takes to be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t have the resources, nor the skills nor the place to learn them. I also didn’t have any mentor or a colleague that was also pushing to be an entrepreneur,” said Emanuel.
However, he decided to spend the past years writing and reading little materials he could find on the subject. He added, “I also wrote down several business ideas and scrutinized some, wrote down business models for some, but there was never anyone for me to present them to since I was shy and always kept to myself. I came across a post that’ll change my life for the best, it contained information about the collaboration between VUT and Activate Academy. I was so excited because this was a chance for me to connect, share and develop both old and new ideas as well as meet new people (same minded) in the entrepreneurial journey.”
The most ground-breaking news about this collaboration for Emmanuel was the fact that Activate academy provided a platform for him to learn and receive certificate for something he had deep passion for as well as that could offer him the training free of charge.
Emmanuel further highlighted that this opportunity gave him something priceless at no cost, “there’s nothing I appreciate more than that. That is why when I decided to take the course, I was overwhelmed with passion that motivated me to complete 5 courses in a single evening in less than 1hr:30mins.”
Although taking the course was pretty straightforward and easy for him, he shared that his most favourite course to take from all 5 was, “How to grow your idea”. “Right now I’m currently taking the “Leadership” and “How to turn your idea into reality” courses and so far the journey has been exciting, fun, simple-straightforward and priceless,” he said.
In closing Emmanuel expressed the following sentiments of gratitude, “Thank you Activate Academy for giving me this opportunity to learn and develop my ideas. I hope one day I can become a part of the community and network of Activate Academy as well as develop a unique, idea and put what I’ve learnt to practice. Thank you.”
All COVID- 19 protocols were adhered to.