The programme was launched at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) last Thursday, 11 August 2022.
“Today, we are standing up for new ideas! For a better tomorrow!” said Abraham Olivier, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, during his closing remarks. “For ways to reduce graduate unemployment and for silos to be broken down.”
Oliver was addressing a host of dignitaries from the business and education sectors, the South African and German Commissions for UNESCO, and a group of excited students. He encouraged students to take full advantage of the many benefits STEP will offer them.
The launch was the culmination of five days of intense training in the STEP method for 10 UWC staff members who will be guiding the students on their entrepreneurial journeys. STEP, originally developed by Leuphana University and Makerere University in Uganda, has been proven to create a positive mindset toward self-employment and will create opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and values needed to overcome the challenge of youth unemployment.
The event was opened by UWC Executive Director for Finance and Services, Mr Manie Regal, who spoke passionately to the young entrepreneurs, imploring them to “not break your promises. Be honest and fair. Act with integrity and don't give up. Discern between being firm and being rude. Free yourself of the victimhood of the past”.
His opening address was followed by an impressive roster of speakers from academia, UNESCO and local businesses, who each explained their involvement with the programme and offered the students some words of advice and encouragement.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Jose Frantz, spoke of building “an engaged university and using our intellectual work to make sense of a complex world, hoping to cultivate a socially responsible people-centered approach.”
Dr Norah Clarke of Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) added: “We are seeing this programme slotting into a growing web of activities and initiatives across higher education that support the development of entrepreneurs as students and graduates.”
UWC is the third university in South Africa to be part of the STEP programme. It was first implemented at the University of Limpopo in 2017 and the University of Venda in 2018 before COVID-19 disrupted the next phase. The programme is now back on track with five years of South African experience.
“We have seen great results coming out of this initiative,” said UNESCO Southern Africa Cultural Co-ordinator, Mr Motopi Rampedi.
Mr Rampedi thanked the German Commission for their support saying: “The programme will go a long way to reducing poverty. On behalf of UNESCO, we declare our unwavering, steadfast support for the German Commission for UNESCO. We believe and hope the students will embrace the project and benefit immensely from what it can do towards creating entrepreneurs in our beloved country.”
Business leaders and investors reminded prospective entrepreneurs that everything they needed to succeed was right there in the hall. They encouraged the students to run with what they learnt, to not be afraid to make mistakes and to reach out and ask for help, because that is what STEP is all about, and that is the only way to make progress as an entrepreneur.
For more images of the STEP Programme Launch (all by Shelley Christians), see the Gallery below: