27 September 2018
Global Entrepreneurship Summer School 2018: Billion Dollar Projects to Foster Societal Change

(Published - 27 September 2018)

For LLB student Khumoetsile Tsintsing, success means empowering others and creating sustainable change - ideas he explored with like-minded student entrepreneurs from all around the world at the Global Entrepreneurship Student Summit at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in September 2018.

“Success to me is the ability to inspire generational change through telling my story,” Khumo says. “My purpose is to orchestrate and align conscious entrepreneurs in South Africa with sustainable legal practice. That means constantly dreaming and believing in my vision which motivates me to always strive to give the best of myself - to free the potential of others.”

Khumo is studying for an LLB degree, and is particularly intrigued by Intellectual Property Law, Carbon Trading Law, Environmental Law and Pharmaceutical Law - areas which will help in his entrepreneurial endeavours, and which require passionate individuals in the next 30 to 40 years to solve a variety of problems.

Johannesburg-born (and Rondebosch-resident) Khumo sees strength in diversity. "My older brother and I joke about being hybrids because my mom is Xhosa and my father Tswana,” he said. Khumo has taken on various leadership roles on campus and has participated in leadership development programmes offered by the University.

“My studies have helped me become efficient in crafting killer questions. My confidence in identifying problems, communicating solutions and leading implementation have assisted me in manifesting my entrepreneurial ambitions.”

GESS is a joint programme of Munich’s university entrepreneurship centers organised by the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie in cooperation with Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico), Tongji University (China) and LifeCo UnLtd South Africa. Since 2008, GESS has received around 1 000 applications yearly from all over the world, with only 35 outstanding candidates selected to participate.

The vision of the Global Entrepreneurship Summer School is based on the idea of “Billion Dollar Projects to Foster Societal Change”: the programme encourages and connects top students from all over the world to challenge society’s biggest problems with even bigger ideas - and an entrepreneurial approach.

“GESS is a programme that develops young entrepreneurs, and challenges them to create innovative, high-impact businesses that solve society’s myriad challenges. Through GESS, we are striving to build a generation of champions who will challenge the status quo and go on to change the world,” says Pat Pillay, LifeCo’s chief executive officer.

During this 7-day programme, 33 students from 12 different countries learned to develop ideas that have both a sustainable impact for society as well as a self-sustaining, profitable business model. This year’s theme was about the global consumption crises on the rise and the call was for students to provide rapid development for sustainable innovation solutions.

Khumo’s group addressed the problem of gentrification - when more affluent people move into a neighbourhood, which can result in increased property values and community services, but also in displacement and isolation of previous (and poorer) inhabitants. The group took an innovative approach to the issue.

“We sought to create an enterprise which would act as an intermediary between the investors, property developers, new and existing businesses and the community members of the area undergoing gentrification,” Khumo explains.

“This solution itself was complex and led to many days of discomfort - at times, it felt like we were lost in a world of problems. Finding the solution required endless days of going deeper into the rabbit hole - a hole we quite enjoyed being in because such moments were followed by breakthroughs.”

Thinking Local, Acting Global: GESS Comes To Cape Town

LifeCo UnLtd, a social enterprise, is the hosting organisation that designs the curriculum, programme and implementation. This is the first year GESS is hosted in South Africa - or any developing country, for that matter - and UWC was a natural fit.

“UWC was an ideal host for GESS 2018 because of our location, our achievements, and our history of social and economic empowerment - and because we are the greenest campus on the continent,” explains Charleen Duncan, Director of UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), the hosts of the School.

“At the CEI, we embrace the power of entrepreneurial thinking, for a better and more sustainable future - our student projects are designed on this basis, and we hope more students will be inspired to join the entrepreneurial revolution.”

Khumo encourages more UWC students to apply for GESS 2019 - not only is it an enjoyable experience, but there’s always something to learn.

“In hindsight, the memories of GESS feel more like a dream,” he says. “How often can you say that you have learned from peers as far out as Mexico, Germany, Brazil, China, India, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Morocco?”

But it’s not enough just to learn from an international perspective - to effect real change, one has to also take a look at local conditions, and find a way forward from there.

“My advice for my fellow entrepreneurs would be to do it the South African way,” Khumo says. “Trust, the problems we face are next level - so collaboration is a must, because we need a collective effort to compete as South Africans in the global market, and make a difference worldwide.”