(Published - 26 November 2019)
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) and Absa have helped a group of entrepreneurs to equip themselves with the tools necessary to be successful in the business world.
A group of businessmen and women graduated from an e-skills and fellowship course respectively last week at a function held at the Verde Hotel near the Cape Town International Airport. The graduates, which included a mother and daughter team, beamed with pride as they received their certificates.
“In the e-skills programme we teach business owners how to use technology to grow their businesses. It’s an accredited University short course that has face-to-face class time as well as assessments and online tasks,” said Charleen Duncan, Director for UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“We feel that teaching e-skills is important because government and corporate programmes need to be accessed via the internet and using technology. Being able to use a smartphone and tablet effectively to enhance your business is critical.”
Duncan said the graduates moved on to a fellowship programme after completing the e-skills programme.
“It’s a holistic programme where we look at different aspects of business. We look at things from a financial, human resources, and sales and marketing perspective. How do you grow yourself and your business? It’s a programme to develop an entrepreneurial mindset that speaks about risk, resilience and competence when the tough gets going in the business world.”
One of the graduates, Zukile Diniso, 35, from Delft, spoke glowingly about his business, Ledokz Holdings. It specialises in building and renting out affordable bachelor and one-bedroom flats in the townships.
“Our flats are of a good quality with built-in stoves, cupboards, uncapped wi-fi, security systems, cameras, and parking spaces and we target recent graduates. All of that for only R3400 per month,” he told the audience at the graduation.
“I wanted to build affordable houses for people. I grew up in a shack that I had to share with many other family members, and that’s why I want my business to make a change in people’s lives. I can also now employ people and contribute in turning the high unemployment figure around.”
Lunga Madonela, Absa’s Area Coverage Manager: Relationship Banking, says his financial institution wanted to make a dent in South Africa’s unemployment rate.
“We know we can’t employ all the people – that’s just not possible. But we can make a contribution towards the economy by partnering with institutions like UWC, and that’s why we have been sponsoring this programme for the last five years. This is a key partnership and we will continue to support this programme for the next few years,” he said.
Madonela shared a story about a young lady he interviewed earlier in the day.
“This young lady had a challenge a few months ago and turned her challenge into a small business. She was without a babysitter one day and then started her own educare centre because there was clearly a demand for it. Her business is thriving.”
Special guest Laetitia Solomons-Manuel, a local actress who stars in the Afrikaans soap ‘Arendsvlei’, and who has her own reality show, ‘Laetitia se Taxi’, had the audience spellbound with the story of her journey. Solomons-Manuel hails from Vlottenburg, outside Stellenbosch, and was a taxi driver before she became an actress.
She told them of her lack of confidence early in her acting career and how she overcame the psychological barrier to eventually start auditioning for English roles and getting them. She also had people in stitches at times with her jokes, but also in tears when she spoke about how her grandfather’s death changed her life and how she’s making a difference in Vlottenburg.
Solomons-Manuel said she now has an agent who looks after her schedule and a thriving business while she works with the community on a daily basis to make a difference.
A number of speakers paid tribute to Wendy Mehl, Co-ordinator for UWC’s CEI. They referred to her as Aunty Wendy or Mama Wendy. Concluding the graduation ceremony, she said: “It’s been a tough year but we made it. Even through winter when we had classes every Saturday from 8am to 4pm, which wasn’t easy, we made it work. Good days give you happiness and bad days give you experience. Always dare to be different and be the light in the dark.”