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UWC Apprentice Challenge 2014

The (UWC) Apprentice: Entrepreneurial students face off

The final round of UWC’s 2014 Apprentice Challenge in August saw second-year Entrepreneurship and Marketing Strategy Honours students showing they have what it takes to run a successful marketing campaign.

Organised by UWC’s Office for Student Development, in collaboration with the School of Business and Finance, the Apprentice Challenge gave the students the chance to utilise some of their classroom learning. The earlier phases were for academic credit, but the final phase was just for the top teams, who competed for cash prizes.

The competition presented teams with a realistic simulated business scenario in which they had to provide marketing strategy and operations support for Wingfield Motors - a used car dealership - by compiling a marketing strategy and business plan for their Township Connection Campaign in a local township of their choice.

“The Challenge helped students apply theory to practice, develop employability skills, and experience real learning,” explains SBF lecturer Prof Linda de Vries, who oversaw the Challenge. “It was a chance for budding entrepreneurs to enhance teamwork and their decision-making skills, as well as their CVs - and to have fun and win prizes.”

The competing teams had to identify one disadvantaged township community in Cape Town, collate pertinent information about the nature and composition of that community (including Statistics SA reports and other consumer and community surveys) and explain why and how they thought Wingfield Motors could benefit from operating there.

Third place - and a R1,000 prize - went to “Synergy”, who identified a local car wash outlet in Langa that could allow Wingfield Motors to establish a presence in the area and build their brand.

Second place - with double the cash - was awarded to the “Magnate Warriors”, who selected Khayelitsha as the base of their expanded operations.

And the Bhag Gals team - consisting of Caroline Dibakoane, Jade Anderson, Motlalepule Mogorosi and Amanda Roman - walked away with the top spot, and a R5,000 prize. They chose the Gugulethu township for their campaign, with a marketing mix including social media, radio, newspaper and print ads, sponsorships, referrals and even marketing at Mzoli’s. They also threw in an educational campaign about the pitfalls of buying a used vehicle.

The Director of Wingfield Motors, John van Niekerk, was so impressed with the quality of all the presentations that he decided to extend the certificates and prize money to the 4th and 5th placed teams as well, who had selected Mitchells Plain and Kayamandi, respectively.

The students reported that the exercise was a fun, challenging and learning experience that taught them a lot about the practical application of their entrepreneurship knowledge - they strongly suggested that it should be an annual event.