11 August 2017 Volume :5 Issue :38

Students Encouraged to Explore Entrepreneurship as a Career

Students Encouraged to Explore Entrepreneurship as a Career
From Left: Dr Xolisa Melamane (TIA), Ms Nomandla Ngcoya (Entrepreneur), Ms Bathabile Mpofu (Entrepreneur) and Dr Brenda Moodley (Lecturer).

As part of Student Entrepreneurship Week 2017, the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) in collaboration with UKZN InQubate and the College of Law and Management Studies, hosted a Workshop on: “Exploring Entrepreneurship as a Career”.

The workshop, which targeted mainly CAES postgraduate students, was co-ordinated by Dr Brenda Moodley of the School of Chemistry and Physics with the ultimate goal being to inspire students to look at entrepreneurship as an opportunity to create jobs.

The first two speakers - Ms Bathabile Mpofu and Ms Nomandla Ngcoya - are alumni of the School of Chemistry and Physics and successful entrepreneurs in their own right.

Mpofu, a UKZN Chemistry graduate and former technician from the College who founded Nkazimulo Applied Sciences (NAS) a couple of years ago with her husband, Roderick, gave a brief description of her business and the reasons for starting the company.

Mpofu, whose business is at a Power Centre in New Germany, told students her journey had been full of struggles but she pursued her dream and never gave up, emphasising that there were many funding platforms entrepreneurs could access and that students needed to start early with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Ngcoya, a UKZN Chemistry graduate who is also pursuing her PhD, founded the 100% Black-owned, Pinetown-based Dlamini Chemicals in July 2016 with Ms Lindiwe Nxele and Ms Nontobeko Dlamini.  Ngcoya spoke about creating a business that could manufacture affordable detergents to improve sanitation in townships and rural areas.

Ngcoya said starting a company required hard work, perseverance and patience. Her final words of encouragement to UKZN students were: ‘Graduates need to be risk takers and seize opportunities.’

Another speaker, Mr Deven Reddy of UKZN InQubate, gave a brief background of the services InQubate offers to both students and academics, highlighting the various projects and workshops on innovation and entrepreneurship they had hosted.

Dr Xolisa Melamane, a Portfolio Manager in the Agricultural Strategic Area at Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), told students about the various programmes TIA hosts to promote and support innovation, entrepreneurship and commericalisation. TIA is a national public entity that serves to bridge the gap between research, development and commercialisation at universities, science councils, public entities and the private sector.

The final speaker was the Manager of the Hub for the African City of the Future in the School of Engineering, Dr Rudi Kimmie, who founded the Business Organisational and Leadership Development (BOLD) organisation and the Student Entrepreneurship and Upliftment Projects (StepUp) at UKZN. He encouraged students to seize the opportunity now and not “waste time”.

Kimmie gave a member of the audience a copy of his book: MoneyWise-Essential Money Skills for Young Minds’.

‘The workshop was well attended and proved valuable as it gave students varying perspectives on entrepreneurship. We need more of these workshops for our students,’ said Kimmie.

‘I was impressed with UKZN’s initiative of promoting entrepreneurship through innovation to its postgraduate students,’ said Melamane. ‘Based on my experience at TIA, my wish is that the entrepreneurship through innovation programmes be extended to all students.

‘The intervention by UKZN is commendable as both in South Africa and globally we are faced with shrinking economies and thus shrinking job markets. Therefore, it is important that citizens or students do not only depend on getting a job but they should look at ways to grow our economy,’ said Melamane.

Professor Neil Koorbanally of the School of Chemistry and Physics said: ‘The workshop was great.  It was good to see some of our own students involved in entrepreneurship.  Having seen what our University can produce, I am sure the graduates who attended would be inspired to start their own businesses.’

Feedback from students was also positive. Said Ms Bongiwe Mdluli: ‘Speakers at the workshop gave me a variety of options in connection with starting up a business.’  Fellow student, Ms Nyameka Vuyokazi Diko, added:  ‘It was interesting to see young women who are successful entrepreneurs.’

Words by: Leena Rajpal

Photograph: Picture supplied by Bheki Mthembu


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