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UWC Student Entrepreneur Delphino Machikicho

UWC Student Entrepreneur Delphino Machikicho

“At a time in South Africa where there's high inflation, even higher unemployment, and a lot of citizens with a low quality of life, it's important that we create entrepreneurs. Where better to do that than at university, where they can learn the theory in the classroom and apply it in their own businesses?”

Those are the words of Delphino Machikicho, Student Entrepreneurship Coordinator at the University of the Western Cape's Entrepreneurship Initiative – a branch of the Leadership and Social Responsibility (LSR) programme, under the Centre for Student Support and Services (CSSS). His mission is to help students become the entrepreneurs they want to be, creating jobs along the way.

Delphino is currently finishing up his final year of BCom in Finance and Investments. He earned his position at the LSR at the end of 2013, when LSR manager Tonia Overmeyer, impressed by his involvement in the Emerging Leaders Programme and Advanced Leaders Programme, approached him to be part of the newly-launched unit. It probably didn't hurt that Delphino was running a profitable free range egg business at the time, for which he was awarded the 2013 UWC Entrepreneur of the Year Award. “The staff in the LSR unit were my customers,” he notes wryly.

He lives entrepreneurship – and that was true long before he joined the Leadership and Social Responsibility Unit as an intern. “Entrepreneurship has always been my way of life,” he notes. “I grew up in an entrepreneurial home – my father is an agribusiness wizard, so I grew up selling products from the farm, and I have always seen myself in business providing value for people.”

The UWC Entrepreneurship Initiative is all about giving students the chance to develop and promote their business ideas. The initiative's purpose is in part to develop a culture of entrepreneurship development and support at university level, to give students tools to confidently explore entrepreneurship, and to contribute to the economy as job creators rather than job seekers. Delphino's job, as he sees it, is to be a link between the students and the practical business world.

“I try to create platforms for student entrepreneurs to learn from people that have walked the journey of entrepreneurship,” he says. “So I work closely with Tonia – a real business development guru – to hunt down relevant people to give talks to students, to organise student visits to companies where they can experience the 'scene of the crime' for themselves, and to help students develop business plans or expand their businesses into bigger enterprises.”

That may involve talks from African-grown entrepreneurs such as Bongani Tungamirai, the owner of the Sticky Fingers restaurants, inviting people to attend UWC's annual Entrepreneurship Colloquium, or providing advice on how a fellow student can expand a t-shirt design business into including embroidery and printing. The Initiative is also working with Nedbank on personal finance management instruction.

The UWC Entrepreneurship Initiative is open to all registered UWC students. “All you need is a passion to develop your business skills,” Delphino urges. “If you have a hunger to learn, we're here to show you the ropes.”

Delphino is still big into the entrepreneurial game himself, helping to run DelDan Investments, a family business mainly focused on food production and transportation (including providing private taxi cabs in the Cape Town CBD area) that was established by his father while they were still in Zimbabwe. And he's still grabbing entrepreneurial opportunities at UWC with both hands – like when he joined the UWC Enactus Team who placed third in Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan Enactus Challenge with their UniBuy mobile purchasing system.

“Business changes people's lives, and that is always a motivator for me,” Delphino explains. “And of course, the profit that comes along with it is a nice benefit...”

Want to know more about UWC's Entrepreneurship Initiative? Have a business idea you want to implement?  Well, why not check out the Entrepreneurship Initiative Facebook page? Or have a look at Delphino's thoughts in this brief YouTube clip?