UKZN’s InQubate Showcases its Entrepreneurship Success Stories
UKZN’s InQubate division has since its launch more than two years ago approved funding for 50 student-owned businesses.
This was revealed at a recent three-day national Student Entrepreneurship Week (#SEW2020) hosted by Universities South Africa’s Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme.
InQubate is UKZN’s technology transfer office, promoting innovation, commercialisation and entrepreneurship.
UKZN was one of 20 universities and four technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges showcasing their entrepreneurship activities at #SEW2020.
This annual campaign raises awareness of entrepreneurship as a career and also seeks to impress upon students that being employed is not the only way they can participate in the economy.
UKZN’s InQubate Manager: Student Entrepreneurship, Mr Khutšo Ramontja, had an open round table debate at the event with #SEW2020 hosts Ms Ntsiki Mkhize and Mr Sakhumzi Dukwe on how the University’s support programme assists in the development of student enterprises from creation to fully-established, profitable businesses.
Setting the scene, Ramontja said InQubate ran two entrepreneurial development programmes:
1. The Beneficiation Challenge specifically designed for students at the ideation phase.
2. An Accelerator Programme for those students already running their own businesses.
Ramontja said UKZN had set up a fund to finance student-owned businesses with those at ideation phase able to get up to R10 000 while those already in business eligible for as much as R100 000.
UKZN had allocated space on its various campuses for student-owned businesses.
Ramontja answered the following questions from the two #SEW2020 hosts:
What is one of the major challenges you face with students?
There are students who lack confidence even though they have an amazing concept and then there are those who are overly confident but on presentation it becomes apparent there is still a lot of work to be done. Irrespective of the level of confidence, we put entrepreneurs through our rigorous training programme during which we are able to channel or guide students accordingly.
And the success stories?
Our many success stories include a PhD student we funded two years ago who now runs a detergent manufacturing business that is really doing well and is on the verge of listing her product with one of the leading chain stores in the country. We are currently helping her with the certification funders need.
We also support many students involved in crop farming ventures producing lettuce, cabbage, green peppers and spinach. One of our agricultural entrepreneurs supplies eggs and another wants to grow bananas.
A company called Anonaya Gardens grows tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflowers, cucumbers, and baby marrows. In business for about two years, Anonaya is now an established enterprise.
What support do you give students?
We have those in the ideation phase and then those who are already in business. Those who are in the ideation phase go through a week-long programme where they learn about market research and how to do a business model canvas. We also help them to refine their business ideas. Once they have submitted their business model canvas as well as their cash flows we determine how much we will give them up to a maximum of R10 000.
Those who are already in business are taken through a six-week development and training programme after which they put together a business plan and based on that we decide how much to give them up to R100 000. A total of 50 have been approved for funding in the past two years. Since 2018, we have trained around 200 students.
Has the entrepreneurial culture and student confidence changed over the years through increased exposure?
I am quite amazed by the students of today. When I look back to when I was a student 20 years ago, the students of today are much more entrepreneurial. Some of their ideas are mind-blowing.
Do you have an award system at UKZN?
We help those entrepreneurs with potential and who excel in growing their businesses, giving them up to R100 000 and also linking them to funding institutions. We also secure space on campus for them to operate.
Another success story I want to highlight is about one of our students aged 19 who is selling hairpieces online. She is based in KwaZulu-Natal while most of her clients are in Gauteng. She started the business just over a year ago with R5 000 and today she has a turnover of more than R20 000 a month!
What types of entrepreneurs do you cater for at UKZN?
We have entrepreneurs in different sectors - there are those in the service industry and some are into tech. We also have an entrepreneur who has developed a system to help medical professionals manage their filing systems.
Our entrepreneurs cut across age groups and fields. In previous years, they were mainly in the commerce and business faculties. However, today students in art, education, and engineering are starting businesses. And the spread is across the board - undergraduate students, those doing their honours, masters or doctorates, and students from different age groups, with our oldest aged 29.
The majority of our student entrepreneurs are women.
Do you help students who are not at your university?
For now, we are only focusing on UKZN students.
For more information on UKZN’s InQubate visit: http://inqubate.ukzn.ac.za/organizational-structure/
This is an edited version of an article initially written by Charmain Naidoo and published in Universities South Africa’s Daily Higher Education News (9 November) under the #SEW2020 banner of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme. Ms Naidoo is a freelance writer contracted by Universities SA (USAf).