04 February 2021 Volume :9 Issue :1

UKZN Shines at Annual Entrepreneurship Awards Event

UKZN Shines at Annual Entrepreneurship Awards Event
From left to right: Ms Lilly Njila, Mr Sihawu Kunene, Mr Jabulani Nyembe and Dr Thea van der Westhuizen.

Former UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) of Research Professor Deresh Ramjugernath has been recognised for his ‘exceptional institutional support for entrepreneurship development in 2020’.

Ramjugernath, now Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning and Teaching at Stellenbosch University, received the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) DVC award at the annual EDHE awards ceremony live streamed on the organisation’s Student Entrepreneurship Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages from the Premier Hotel in Gauteng.

DVCs at the Universities of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Venda, and Limpopo as well as those at the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Durban and the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein were also nominated as finalists for the award.

Nominees were required to demonstrate excellence in advocacy, enablement, national leadership and physical support.

Ramjugernath, a contributing speaker at 2020’s virtual EDHE Lekgotla which attracted more than 1 000 delegates from all over the world, took up his new position at Stellenbosch University on January 1 this year.

Another UKZN representative who received an EDHE Award at the ceremony was Dr Thea van der Westhuizen, a senior lecturer and student entrepreneur mentor in the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance. Van der Westhuizen received recognition for her four years of service as the national convenor of the EDHE Entrepreneurship Development in Academia Community of Practice.

Awards were presented in various categories including the four category winners of the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2020, and other awards recognising the promotion and exceptional support for entrepreneurship development in 2020.

Two UKZN College of Law and Management Studies students reached the final round of the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition which was open to all registered undergraduate and postgraduate students. The event drew 1545 entries from 26 universities - 250 of the entrants were from UKZN.

The UKZN finalists were Mr Jabulani Nyembe, who is enrolled for a Bachelor of Business Sciences in Finance and Economics, and Mr Sihawu Kunene who is studying for a Bachelor of Commerce in the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance.

Nyembe entered in the category: Existing Business in Technology. His business, Clinalytics, provides technology and business solutions to medical professionals in private practice to help them reduce workload, digitise medical records and improve efficiency in operations.

Kunene entered in the category: Innovative Business Idea for his concept of an envisioned technology company. He developed NENE Tech - a panic button designed specifically for university and college students to counteract crime on campus.

Both students had to deliver robust business pitches during the internal university rounds, and continued with them into the regional section and then on to the national finals.

Nyembe and Kunene acknowledged the importance of their academic studies in contributing to their success.

‘Knowledge I have gained studying for my degree helped me develop my concept into an actual business,’ said Nyembe. ‘Skills I acquired in the fields of basic accounting, finance, management and marketing, were invaluable in the creation of Clinaytics.’

The aspiring entrepreneurs are part of InQubate’s ENSPIRE programme, the Entrepreneurship Skills Programme at UKZN aimed at equipping students with entrepreneurial skills. The programme facilitates entrepreneurship training for students across all disciplines, in collaboration with academic faculty members.

Said Student Entrepreneurship Manager at InQubate Mr Khutso Ramontja: ‘We are proud of the achievement of Jabulani and Sihawu. They really gave of their best and kept the UKZN flag flying high from the regional section all the way to the national finals. We hope their example inspires more students at UKZN to participate in similar events.

‘Their journey began in July during the regionals where they won their respective categories, and continued with training they received through ENSPIRE. The level of commitment, enthusiasm and passion they displayed during this period was laudable. We look forward to assisting them in their quest to realise their entrepreneurial dreams,’ said Ramontja.

The EDHE Studentpreneur of the Year 2020 award was won by Promise Nyalungu of the University of Venda, the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity champion was the University of Venda, while the best institutional contribution to the national Student Entrepreneurship Week was adjudged to have been from Goldfields TVET College.

EDHE is a division of Universities South Africa (USAf) and the awards are presented as an incentive to inspire the youth in the area of job creation.

Nyembe had this advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: ‘Get started ASAP. The sooner you begin the sooner you will be able to identify what you need, whether it is resources or skills. We are in the world of agile business, where you must test every assumption with lightning speed so you can adjust quickly and get to where you want to be without wasting too many resources.’

Words: Derek Griffin

Photograph: Supplied

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