UWC and UFL students help struggling Entrepreneurs
The Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa (EESA) Programme run by Prof Michael Morris from the University of Florida is a six-week programme which allows both South African and American students to go to townships to work with historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs.
These struggling small business owners operate under adverse conditions with very limited resources and business skills. The programme, hosted by UWC’s School of Business and Finance, sends students out with the mission of assisting these business owners to stabilise these businesses and assist entrepreneurs to gain the skills needed to make their businesses sustainable.
The students are divided into consulting groups consisting of both South African and American students. Each group has two clients that they need to assess using the Supporting Emerging Enterprises model, and then at least four deliverables must be product per client. A deliverable is a problem solved. The deliverables are produced hand-in-hand with the client, increasing the likelihood they will be implemented.
The programme is open to any upper-level undergraduates and post-graduates, regardless of their major. The only requirement is that students have a passion for helping entrepreneurs to succeed.
For Ndabezinhle Duma, a final year Bcom Accounting student at UWC, the course allowed him to apply knowledge he had gained after years of studying in an enriching and practical way. He has been inspired to become an entrepreneur himself now that he has the practical skills and know how to do so. His goal is to create employment opportunities in South Africa to boost the country's economy and inspire other to do the same.
Gabriella Razzetti, one of the American students from the University of Florida attending the course and currently getting her masters in International Business, says that she enjoyed her time working with the clients and that she worked well together with her team and UWC students. She, too, is excited that she finally has practical experience in a field she has been studying for years, and she plans to take the skills she learned here and apply them with struggling businesses in her own home state.
The programme has previously been offered at other universities - but after being at UWC for the past few years, Prof Morris feels the University is a natural home for the programme, considering its history and many community upliftment projects.
“It should have been offered here all along,” Prof Morris says. “UWC has been a great partner to the programme, and the partnership will continue indefinitely into the future.”