Young entrepreneurs recognised for great business ideas
Research should disrupt existing knowledge
From left: Ms Onica Matsheke: Programme Facilitator; Mr Dunston Lekhuleni: Coffeasidar Co-owner, Dr Joseph “Joe” Molete: Executive Director; and Mr Lindokwakhe Masango: Coffeasidar Co-owner.
The Vaal University of Technology Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park held a Student Enterprise Development programme awards ceremony on 30 March at the VUT Vanderbijlpark campus.
The three top students were given prize money to fund their businesses. The event was attended by Dr Joseph “Joe” Molete: Executive Director of the Science Park; Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Commercialisation, Mr Jan Jooste; Programme Facilitator: Ms Onica Matsheke and Project Coordinator: Ms Siphokazi Zondi.
In first place was Mr Lindokwakhe Masango, who co-owns Coffeasidar, second was Mr Lemogang Medupe, whose business idea centres around graduation gowns and third was Mr Nico Mmola for his 4RECs Treasure Books Agency, that he co-owns.
Coffeasidar, co-owned by Mr Lindokwakhe Masango is a start-up business that believes in challenging the status quo in everything they do, either in the style of coffee enjoyed by their customers and the way it’s served. Their menu consists of affordable freshly brewed flavoured iced and hot coffee drinks, complemented by a range of coffee infused confectioners. It’s in this view that they happen to be the best.
The Gemini Nation owned by Mr Lemogang Medupe is a company rooted on events management, consulting and supply, and 4RECs, co-owned by Mr Nico Mmola, is an online bookshop that believes in the circulation and re-use of textbooks among university students within their campuses. 4RECs is creating a new way for students to easily access stationaries because they realized that students end up spending their own pocket money for getting other study material, of which many can’t afford hence they are using bursaries and government grants.
The winners said they were very proud of the milestone that they have reached.
Mr Masango said: “We feel very blessed for this opportunity and, once again, it’s our hard work that got us through.”
The winners were judged on their body language, enthusiasm and passion during the presentations of their businesses or business ideas.
“In conclusion, I’d like to thank everybody for participating in this programme. We have learned a lot, even about ourselves and the colleagues by engaging with you. We hope we are going to do it better going forward. But with you, the journey continues. We need to sharpen your propositions, engage internally and externally and, at the end of the day, we want to see you on the front page of some magazine,” said Dr Molete.
VUT established the Student Enterprise Development programme to help students commercialise their ideas and learn about entrepreneurship. It was to also help the University find solutions from students. The Science Park’s objective is to elevate job creation and economic prosperity in South Africa through the development of entrepreneurial skills and the promotion of commercially viable start-ups and social enterprises at the VUT.
The students were enrolled in a six-month programme of workshops that helped them improve their proposals and business knowledge. They attended sessions that enabled them to grasp every aspect of what entrepreneurship is about, how to commercialise good ideas and the importance of protecting intellectual property.
The three winners will be working with VUT Enterprise Development in order to develop their business concepts further, write business plans and explore other funding options. The development of the businesses will be linked to the ability to raise funding. They will, therefore, also learn to ensure that the implementation of their business plans and deliverables are in accordance with the funder’s requirements.
Those students who did not make it to the list of the top three will, nevertheless, benefit through various business and entrepreneurial workshops which VUT will provide at no cost to the student.