UWC Enactus entrepreneurs develop prize-winning mobile purchasing system
The national Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) Enactus Challenge is a competition designed to recognise and reward entrepreneurial student teams in South Africa who created and delivered projects aligned with the goals of the USLP. After making it to the quarter- and then semi-finals of the challenge, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) Enactus team – Hakundwi Mandende, Thando Sobantu and Delphino Machikicho – were flown to Johannesburg on 3 July 2014 to present their entrepreneurial ideas to the judging panel. The following week, at the Enactus National Competition, they claimed the trophy for third place.
Working in collaboration with employees from Unilever South Africa, the team focused on research into Unilever brands and projects, as well as research into the USLP's goals, ideas and implementation for job creation. Ultimately, they developed UniBuy – a mobile purchasing system for UWC students to access Unilever products at competitive prices from the comfort of their own rooms (or wherever they happen to be when using their phones).
Thando Sobantu, who hails from Pretoria and is studying towards a BA in Politics, Women and Gender Studies and History, says she took part in the Challenge because she believed in the idea. “The UniLever Sustainable Living Challenge speaks to the person that I am,” she notes. “And UniBuy is fresh, innovative – a creative way to address the challenge UWC students face. UniBuy is awesome because we are students, and we created a business that will change the lives of other students”.
Zimbabwe-born Delphino Machikicho, who is studying a BCom in Finance and Investments, agrees that the student focus is what makes UniBuy so amazing. “Being students ourselves, we understood the student market,” he says. “We took the time to do intensive market research, to understand exactly what the UWC community's needs are. With that understanding, we managed to create an innovative and convenient solution to the shopping challenge that students face in Res and on campus.”
But there's more to success than just a good idea.
“What made UniBuy successful was the teamwork,” says Geology Masters student, Hakundwi Madende. “We worked so well together, and everyone did what they had to do when they had to do it, no matter how much we had to sacrifice. While others were on vacation, we were in the boardroom, planning and debating – and it all paid off.”
The project aims to incorporate a recycling component run within the UWC residences. Currently, this project is in the early stages of implementation, having completed several important milestones:
Development of the mobile application in partnership with the CoLab for eInclusion and Social Innovation
Completing the focus group and market research
Partnering with the Green Campus initiative to outline the recycling component
Birgit Schreiber, Director of the Centre for Student Support Services (CSSS) and Tonia Overmeyer, who manages the Leadership and Social Responsibility Department that supported and prepared the students for the Enactus Challenge, believe that it is a useful vehicle for student development and support.
“The annual Enactus challenge provides a useful framework for focusing on key outcomes for student development, and for measuring this outcome,” she says. “We're proud that the students did so well, but even more proud of how they learnt and grew as a result of their involvement.”
The team enjoyed the opportunity to develop project management, public speaking, time management, entrepreneurial and various other skills – and they're justly proud of their performance.
“We are excited that the team's hard work, commitment and dedication were recognised,” says Delphino. “We just can't wait to take UniBuy to our students and make buying easy for our brothers and sisters.”
The faculty advisors for the UWC Enactus Chapter are Birgit Schreiber (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Monique Withering. Tel: 021-9592299.