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9 July 2018
Absa Gives UWC Entrepreneurship Programme R1.2m Boost

(Published - 9 July 2018)

The University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) will continue to empower small business owners in the province with tools for success through their partnership with Absa.

Now, with a R1.2 million boost from Absa, the CEI will achieve so much more through its Enterprise Development Programme.

Absa’s Managing Executive in the Western Cape, John Tshabalala, said: “Absa is proud to be the partner of the Centre of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the University of the Western Cape. Entrepreneurship is vital to the creation of a vibrant, innovative and sustainable economy - and Absa is committed to assisting small businesses in securing access to finance, markets and supply chain as well as financial education.”

Charleen Duncan, Director of the CEI, said partnerships between private institutions, such as Absa, and universities are vital to the support, training and development of business owners.

“Absa and the University of the Western Cape have had a partnership for four years, and their contribution has enabled us to help small business owners take their businesses to another level,” said Duncan.

Absa committed to continue with its UWC partnership for the next three the CEI/ABSA cheque handover and certification ceremony for the beneficiaries of the ABSA-funded small business development programme, which took place on 4 July 2018 in Cape Town. Absa will continue to support the UWC Fellowship Programme, E-skills toolkit training and the private practice simulator at the Dentistry Faculty.

Supplier development has proven to be an efficient mechanism to help small business owners become - and remain - competitive.

The enterprise support programme aims to create structures that will contribute to the retention of jobs by providing business support and business incubation functions that are geared towards SMME assistance and youth development. Additionally, the programme will develop supplier development programmes and provide access to short courses at UWC.

“One notable way to create sustainable jobs is through entrepreneurship,” Duncan said. “The government and banks can get involved by creating opportunities to stimulate economic growth by funding capital for these investments. And universities are perfectly placed to invest through social capital by fostering entrepreneurship education and training.”

One of the graduates, Stanley Wippenaar, had worked as a subcontractor for a paper manufacturing and printing business at Tygervalley Shopping Centre in Bellville.

While on his rounds, someone responsible for disposing old parking tickets asked him to recycle them - and Wippenaar was surprised at what he got paid. He continued to do this, enjoying the extra money it earned him, and eventually started his own business.

Duncan advised him to enroll for the e-tools kit programme - and it changed the way he did business.

In an emotional speech, Wippenaar said, “I started this programme, and it convinced me to switch from transport to recycling. Today, it is my bread and butter. Recently I received a contract with UWC to set up the recycling programme of the Faculty of Dentistry at Tygerberg and Mitchells Plain.”

He’s grateful for the opportunities he’s been afforded.

“Thanks to the CEI I can sustain myself.”

ABSA / CEI: Investment In LifeLong Learning And Economic Empowerment

A portion of the funds from Absa will go to the Dentistry Private Practice Simulator at the University’s Tygerberg campus.

“Students are equipped with all the theoretical and practical skills as part of their undergraduate programme, but have very little experience in running an actual dentistry practice - which is why the faculty wants to set up this fully furnished simulated practice,” said Dr Soraya Yasin-Harnekar, from the UWC Dentistry Faculty.

The Faculty, the largest dental school in Africa, produces 80 dentists and 20 oral hygienists annually - but setting up successful dental practices can be a challenge.

“Apart from set-up costs for this kind of business being exceptionally high, it has also been a challenge for students when having to run their own practices,” Dr Yasin-Harnekar noted. “With this simulated practice, we would like to change that by giving students an opportunity to 'run' a practice.”

The computer hardware was funded by ABSA while the patient management software came from an industry partner. The project is soon to start up, said Dr Yasin-Harnekar, as soon as the simulator practice training is completed.

Professor Tyrone Pretorius, UWC Vice-Chancellor, called the CEI partnership with Absa a truly meaningful investment.

“Absa’s investment is in line with our commitment to lifelong learning - essential in helping mature students attain new knowledge and skills,”  said Professor Pretorius.

“Furthermore, the future health of our economy rests on the encouragement and growth of small businesses: these can be key drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation. It is in all our interest that small businesses and their owners succeed.”

For more information on what the CEI has to offer, contact Wendy Mehl on 021 959 9549 or via email at Or visit