30 November 2022

The three students and their businesses have garnered some well-deserved attention. Steyn, a third-year Bachelor of Arts in Psychology student and founder of Academy of Excellence, was approached by several Community of Practice Leaders to expand her business. She was also directed to the South African Disability Association for further discussions on expanding her business, and was selected by the Allan Gray Foundation to join their mentee programme. 

Ms Ngthabiseng Mpanza, a second-year Bachelor of Science student and founder of Her First, a shop aimed at giving women cheaper, more sustainable products to use for their monthly cycle, was approached by some organizations to support her in registering her business and creating further access to the market. She also received endorsement from her councillor in KZN and the mayor who are now interested in supporting her business and moving it to the market.

Penwell Silinda, a third-year Information, Communication and Technology student, is the founder of PJS-CHEM (PTY) LTD a Developer and manufacturer of innovative products, services, and systems to solve society's problems using technology.  He received multiple accolades and is now linked to NSFAS for installation of trackers in the laptops being distributed to students, and to car manufacturers for installation of the tracker he developed. He is currently working on an app for a new airline for marketing purposes. 

UMP Entrepreneurship Club

Behind the success of these students is the UMP Entrepreneurship Club which was launched during the Student Entrepreneurship Week, recently held at the Mbombela campus. The club supports student entrepreneurs with setting up and marketing their businesses.

It also offers guidance to aspiring student entrepreneurs to pursue their business dreams and help them to cultivate start-up business ideas. The club also assists with fund sourcing, and to nurture the development of quality entrepreneurs who will be capable of competing in the local and global business market.

One of the UMP CFERI EDHE competition finalists, Penwell Silinda, said that the UMP Entrepreneurship Club will further develop aspiring entrepreneurs like him as it will act as a platform for applying and exercising academically learned skills.

“It's mostly important for institutions these days because there is a start-up wave riding across the nation. Today's varsity and college students are part of a critical generation that will further our economic recovery. The foundational role of start-ups in our economy makes the UMP Entrepreneurship Club an asset to any institution."

UMPThe Entrepreneur Club was launched with much enthusiasm.   

Silinda further explained, “The Club's objective is to train students to have the appropriate business insights and entrepreneurship skills, to cultivate entrepreneurship skills and values among the students, and to develop knowledgeable and enterprising graduates.

It also arranges some expert lectures and seminars from start-up founders or from industry experts. They can guide students and resolve many of the silliest-to-silliest questions and queries and can help by securing financial and legal help from alumni.”

No idea is too small

Dean of Students Dr Paul Maminza added, "When you graduate at UMP you should live according to the graduate attributes which is being entrepreneurial and innovative. As the university we want our students to take advantage of all opportunities presented to them.”

UMP Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator (CFERI) Centre Manager, Dr Kanayo Ogujiuba said the club takes the entrepreneurial intentions of UMP students to a new level.

“Students must know that there is no idea that is negligible, every idea can work, for instance, they have seen some of their colleagues are finalists of the EHDE competition, so it's a morale booster for them to aspire towards.”

Dr Ogujiuba further said that the UMP assists students with their marketing plans – to help them do a framework for business opportunities and look for opportunities for them to leverage and become successful.

UMPDr Ogujiuba presenting at the launch of the UMP Entrepreneurship Club.

UMP CFERI success story

Dr Ogujiuba is confident that the UMP Entrepreneurship Club will continue to produce successful entrepreneurs who will inspire others and grow their entrepreneurial capacity. “We're looking at students who are already in business, who are interested in doing business, who love entrepreneurship. This year alone we went to the Malaysia Entrepreneurship Summit, and we won the Best Pitching Award. We also sent six students into the EDHE regional rounds, where three came out top of their categories.”

Dr Ogujiuba said the incubation programme is open to all students and alumni.

“We're trying to grow a new cohort of student entrepreneurs who will run with the idea, who will use the facilities we are providing at CFERI, use the support, the network, and leverage on it.

In summary, the achievements of UMP CFERI are possible because of the continued support and strategic leadership of the Vice-Chancellor and Chairperson of the Advisory Board, Professor Thoko Mayekiso.”

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures @Chrisplphoto