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26 October 2020
eRank App: UWC Entrepreneurs Make Maths Fun
Maths is hard, but it’s also important: every day we have to figure out how to make change for the taxi, or how to navigate into a parking spot, or a million little things. That’s what the eRank app is all about.

A game that allows users to play through a variety of these everyday mathematical situations, eRank is the brainchild of young entrepreneurial students from the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Enactus programme, who entered it in the MTN ICT challenge and will receive R80,000 as a start-up to develop their ideas further. 

“eRank is basically a game that speaks to the average South African,” said third-year UWC LLB student, Munashe Dzikiti, one of the key eRank team members. “Every day, people have to make use of public transportation, and have to decide how to spend their grocery money, and have to make a lot of other decisions involving maths. With eRank, they can learn how to navigate these everyday scenarios - and the maths involved in doing that.”

“South African learners and students tend to perform poorly in mathematics,” added final-year UWC Sociology/Psychology/Anthropology student - and eRank team leader - Thobeka Nkabinde. “And many people don’t have the time or the funding to get assistance from a tutor to help develop their maths skills - and many find it boring as well. In this age of technology, we knew there had to be a better way, so we tried to design that: way to make learning maths fun.”

eRank is currently in the ideation phase (the team is employing design thinking methodology in their work). So they’ve determined the problem to be addressed, figured out the target group, designed the app and the business case, planned out how it would operate, and so on. Now they’re developing content, looking at the many situations just like the taxi problem and everyday situations that require a bit of maths to tackle.

Now it’s not going to do your homework for you – you can’t submit problems to the game and ask it to solve them. But it will help you get better at understanding the principles involved - and if that means you’re better at doing your homework, then that’s just fine with them.

“It’s not really designed to just help you do well in school,” Dzikiti noted. It’s more of an extracurricular game that helps you build skills that are useful for life - and for school as well, naturally. It’s more about improving thinking skills and cognitive ability, rather than school maths marks.”

Entrepreneurs Collaborating To Chart A Better Future

ENACTUS is a global, non-profit organisation that aims at challenging students to address real world problems and economic issues in their communities by applying what they learn in lecture halls to solve problems facing their communities through a business lens. It brings together students from all over (Dzikiti was born in Zimbabwe, Nkabinde in KwaZulu-Natal) and helps them develop the entrepreneurial mindset necessary to take their dreams forward.

“Thobeka and Munashe are two of the most entrepreneurial students I’ve come across at UWC,” said Lana Franks, Student Entrepreneurship Programme Lead at UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “They’ve shown that they have the grit to succeed, and that they’re willing to pay the cost to pursue their dreams while balancing their academic commitments. They’re the embodiment of the University’s entrepreneurial spirit, and I know they’ll go on to do great things.”

That’s not just true of their Enactus efforts either. Both Dzikiti and Nkabinde are pioneering executive members of the Women in Tech initiative at UWC (kind of a startup of its own). Additionally, both also have started their own businesses on the side as well.

“I fell in love with entrepreneurship because I realised I want to be an innovator - to start something of my own, and create something to make people’s lives easier,” Nkabinde said. “It’s about seeing opportunities where others can’t, and turning those opportunities into value. For me, it’s also about being able to lead beyond the status quo - and bringing imagination and a sense of possibility to the challenges of our time.”

Dzikiti feels much the same way.

“On a personal level, I believe the journey of building a business is humbling and pushes for one’s growth - emotionally, mentally and spiritually,” Dzikiti remarks. “But entrepreneurship is largely responsible for much-needed job creation – and with the recent increase in the South African unemployment rate, that’s more important now than ever.”