Entrepreneurship Is A Career

Entrepreneurship Is A Career

Entrepreneurship Is A Career: UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation shares career advice

Entrepreneurshipis a career - and like any career, it requires hard work, preparation and education to make the most of it. UWC’s Student Entrepreneurship Week 2017 aimed to help students do just that.

“We need to produce a generation of job takers, rather than job makers - a generation of innovators who will look at the world in a different way and come up with new ways of doing things. We need a generation of entrepreneurs.”

So said Charleen Duncan, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at the University of the Western Cape, speaking at the launch of Student Entrepreneurship Week 2017 on 16 August 2017, exploring the theme Entrepreneurship is a Career.

South Africa has its share of problems - including a high unemployment rate (particularly among the youth) and sluggish economic growth. To help, the Department of Higher Education and Training devised SEW 2017 as a national campaign for entrepreneurship development aimed at supporting all students considering entrepreneurship as a potential career.

The UWC SEW 2017 event, hosted by the CEI on 16 and 17 August 2017 at UWC’s School of Public Health, aimed to raise awareness of entrepreneurship as a career option, while imparting basic entrepreneurship skills to students from all disciplines, and exploring the importance of entrepreneurship to the economy.

More than 100 students were treated to the knowledge and expertise of experts and entrepreneurs - students, lecturers and alumni alike - such as:

Professor Pamela Dube, UWC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Development and Support, explained how important entrepreneurship is to the country’s future.

“Youth unemployment is very high for those aged 15-34, so job creation is absolutely necessary,” she said. “The CEI is doing extremely good work by having entrepreneurship expos such as this one, allowing students to be exposed to established entrepreneurs and information about access to funding and support opportunities.”

The two-day programme empowered young student entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams while at the same time allowing them to access funding and support from exhibitors such as ABSA Bank and Standard Bank. It also provided them with access to the right networks to jump-start their entrepreneurial careers.

Student entrepreneur Lulo Rubushe - whose success as founder of the RNDM Network clothing and media lifestyle brand led to him being nominated one of the Forbes Thirty Youth Entrepreneurs In Africa - explored the importance of networks and collaboration.

“Networking is absolutely crucial to a young business person,” he said. “My business allows entrepreneurs to network with the right people and find success - and to help others find success as well. When entrepreneurs work together, the possibilities are endless.”

Dr Bayat noted that most universities are structured to produce job seekers rather than job creators - and that isn’t in line with trends in the job market, both locally and globally.

“Students need to start thinking about becoming entrepreneurs as there are fewer and fewer job opportunities in the private sector,” he explained. “You need to think outside of the box and start thinking like entrepreneurs while studying.”

Enthusiastic motivational speaker Faith Tererai-Ngam added to that, telling student guests that working eight hours a day for someone else while not working on your own dreams is silly.

“Become the CEO of your own life, take charge, start your businesses and be successful,” she urged. “Many entrepreneurs often choose the safety and security of a job rather than following their passion and dreams - and many regret it in the end.”

But entrepreneurial activity isn’t just about apps and finances - traditional careers can also benefit from that kind of thinking.

“Dentistry is a profession that is entrepreneurial by nature,” Carol Cloete said, noting that the University (which houses the largest Dental School in Africa) is concerned about qualified dentists who start their own practises and run the risk of business failure early in their careers. “The CEI and the Faculty of Dentistry have since partnered to help students become properly prepared for running their own practices.”

Student Entrepreneurs: Where To From Here

The CEI’s Clint Davies took the opportunity to explain the difference between entrepreneurial education and entrepreneurial training.

“The CEI offers entrepreneurship training rather than programmes - our courses are shorter in duration and offer practical training rather than theory,” he said. “Theory is important, of course, but the training content provides the knowledge and skills for entrepreneurs can use to make a difference in their businesses right away.”

The CEI had 192 applicants for their courses in the first semester, and they expect to have much more for the second semester, he said.

“Our research has found that many students at UWC are interested in entrepreneurship and starting businesses, and we hope they’ll consider trying out some of the CEI courses.”

As Davies explained, the CEI will offer several exciting opportunities in the second semester such as:

  • Ikamva Site (CEI Student Entrepreneurship)

  • Start-Up 90 entrepreneurship skills development

  • Disruption 48 Bootcamp

  • Partnering LaunchLab Challenge

The CEI isn’t just for those who want to become entrepreneurs - anybody who wants to learn to keep innovating, learning and growing, and keep abreast of workplace changes, is more than welcome.

“Remember, you, too, can change the world,” Duncan concluded. “All it takes is a little inspiration, a whole lot of perspiration, and just the right  amount of education.”

If you’re interested in learning more about these endeavours, please visit http://entrepreneurship.uwc.ac.za/ and learn all about the Centre’s programmes, fellowships, entrepreneurial successes and more, or contact Wendy Mehl on 021 959 9549 or via email at wmehl@uwc.ac.za