(Published - 3 July 2020)
Entrepreneurship is all about innovation and creativity, and many student entrepreneurs displayed just that when they pitched their ideas at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) internal round of the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition. But only five of the best aspiring student entrepreneurs could go through to the next round.
The five students – all women – will represent the University at the regional leg of the contest next week (6 to 9 July 2020) when they take on other similar business-minded students from the neighbouring Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University. The winners at the regional leg will represent the Western Cape in the national competition later in the month.
Qondisa Mbekwa’s Ezamabhinqa Creations, a rental service for designer evening wear, and Thobeka Nkabinde’s Bomvu, which is a satin head wraps and natural hair care business, will represent UWC in the New Business Idea category.
In the General Business category, it will be Oyama Makubalo’s Niki's Ginger Beer, and Bianca Brandt’s Aan die Brandt Design and Events, while Siphosethu Siqwede’s Beads by Mbali - customised traditional Xhosa beads - will do the honours in the Social Impact Business category.
In its second year, the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity is run by the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme and is funded through the Department’s University Capacity Development Programme. It is open to registered undergraduate and postgraduate students across all disciplines, and full-time and part-time students are eligible to participate.
The purpose of the competition is to identify top student entrepreneurs at South African public universities, recognise and showcase their businesses, and invite investment into this cohort of student businesses. The competition also provides opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs in the ideation phase to pitch their innovative business ideas. In the process, universities have the opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurial talent and demonstrate the ways in which they support and grow the next generation of business leaders.
At UWC, the competition is facilitated by the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). Lana Franks, student entrepreneurship coordinator and coach at the CEI, said the competition has sparked more participation in entrepreneurship among students.
“In the inaugural competition last year we had only four applicants in the internal round,” she said. “This year that number has grown significantly, with 75 students having submitted their applications.”
According to Franks, 32 of the applicants were selected for the internal round to pitch their ideas in a three-minute video clip, and half of them responded by the cut-off date.
This week the winning five students are offered training to polish their presentations before participating in the regional competition from 6 to 9 July, which will be hosted online by UWC.
Franks added that the competition was opened wide so that as many students as possible could get the experience of pitching ideas. “We see competitions like these as developmental, where students get feedback from the judges so they know what to improve on.”
Looking back at last year’s competition, Franks said the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity helped increase participation in the CEI programmes, and one of the participants ended up going to India toward the end of the year to take part in the entrepreneurship accelerator programme.
“The whole experience can catalyse their entrepreneurial intent at the end of the day because we need more entrepreneurs in South Africa, especially now.”