01 August 2022

This year, the ENACTUS SA competition was termed: "Passion on Purpose" and the UMP team, led by final-year Bachelor of Development Studies student, Mfanelo Ndlovu, secured second place for their Travel to Trade project.

Ndlovu says there was enthusiasm from students since the competition was handled differently compared to the past two years, where everything was restricted to online, due to the pandemic. This time they could finally physically do their presentations instead of sending in videos.

“We were first in our league and competed against teams with much more experience than us. We made it to the national finals and came second, which is a huge accomplishment for us. We have never been this close to coming first. The majority of the team had never been to the nationals which posed a challenge and they had to work extra hard to prepare and train the rest of the team,” says Ndlovu.

Inspiration and support

For the competition, ENACTUS SA allowed teams throughout to present student-owned businesses and UMP presented Travel to Trade, a brainchild of Honours student, Siphesihle Shabalala.

Former Enactus members serve as an inspiration to the team, one being erstwhile UMP Enactus President, Confidence Ndlovu, who is now a lecturer and co-faculty advisor and was part of the team since the beginning of UMP Enactus.

“This was the first time we worked with Miss Ndlovu as an advisor rather than a student, which was surreal and a bit nostalgic. This also served as a great motivation to our team to see someone who walked the same road and worked as tirelessly as them in a higher position,” he says.

Ndlovu says that the team became successful through the full support of the University management and other students. He added that the people who worked tirelessly and gave their extra hours to ensure the success of the team are faculty advisor Dr Ferdinand Niyimbanira and co-faculty advisors Mr Lukhele, Dr Xola Nduku and Ms Confidence Ndlovu.

This year for ENACTUS SA the teams were entrusted with identifying businesses within the team to find an enterprise that will have an innovative and sustainable impact. ENACTUS UMP held three workshops, which were led by the faculty advisers. This Roadmap route helped in finding an outstanding ENACTUS UMP member-owned enterprise.

The team decided to work on the Travel and Trade Project, as it was the best option for reversing the narrative. As a result, ENACTUS UMP then partnered with Well of Wisdom Projects, a registered business founded by Siphesihle Shabalala, one of the ENACTUS UMP Honours students.

"We have uncovered a vacuum in the economy: there is a sector that is freely accessible but under-resourced, leaving its economic consequences unaccounted for. That is the informal trade sector, which has existed for many years as a source of income and a reliable source of funds, especially for the previously disadvantaged. The sector is generally dominated by the elderly and classified as unprofitable due to its lack of attraction," adds Ndlovu. 

"Together with the team, a needs analysis was conducted, a process based on observation, questionnaires and interviews with street vendors from the Mbombela local municipality. This was done to gather more insights, using both quantitative and qualitative data on the challenges faced by our beneficiaries." 

Ndlovu further says that their key findings indicated that the informal sector is challenged by: Top-down approach, Market access, Lack of accountability and information, Lack of compliance and exploring of new opportunities.

Travel to Trade can be described as a contemporary interpretation of the ancient merchant tradition. It captures the entrepreneurial fire of enacting change by exploring products and services that positively impact society. Vendors today carry the same fire.

“We pride ourselves not only on the impact we make on our beneficiaries but also on the business value gained by our team members. As such our business model follows the pattern of social entrepreneurship, the crux of which is stakeholder integration towards solving social challenges while generating income. Project Travel to Trade then uses the qualities of the team to encourage partnerships with the private and public sectors as clients and sponsorships for project sustenance and revenue generation."

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures supplied.