Passion for Community Upliftment drives Masters Graduate
Having a profound passion for community-oriented entrepreneurship drove Master of Commerce in Entrepreneurship graduate Mr Mthokozisi Mkhize to pursue research on The Role of Community-Based Entrepreneurship in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: An Exploratory Study of Agricultural Cooperatives.
Hailing from rural Dlolwane in the Nkandla district of KwaZulu-Natal, Mkhize says he wanted to develop a sense of community index in the context of rural communities to assist local government in implementing community-based entrepreneurship programmes. ‘I wanted to highlight psychological community aspects that enhance social capital in rural communities.’
Mkhize found that there was a connection between the level of sense of belonging and the success of agricultural cooperatives which was measured with various variables such as trust, fitting in within the cooperative, reputation, sense of membership, sharing of important needs, shared values, caring and sharing important events.
He acknowledged his supervisor Dr Evelyn Derera, who he says helped him greatly during the struggles of his studies. ‘I was not comfortable with talking about my personal life but I sat down with my supervisor and told her everything that I was going through… and she was shocked. Our relationship shifted from her being just my supervisor to a mother figure, mentor and support structure,’ said Mkhize.
Mkhize’s passion for community upliftment led to him starting an initiative called Equalisers Rural Youth Community Development which seeks to address structural unemployment in South Africa by handing out relevant career guidance to rural youth at an early age up to Grade 12.
Words by: Reatlehile Moeti
Photograph by: Abhi Indrarajan