31 August 2023

ENACTUS is an international non-profit organisation focused on social entrepreneurship, headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, USA. It administers projects for university students through World Cup Competitions where each country is represented by its winning universities.

ENACTUS UMP was established in 2016 with a mere 12 members who participated in the national competition as observers. The subsequent year, in 2017, the team took part in the National Competition, securing fifth position out of 21 universities. This marked a historic achievement in the history of the University, as the team continued to excel at the national competition in the years to follow. 

The university management acknowledges the team's accomplishments through a ceremonial celebration after each national competition. Over the years, the student-led entrepreneurship and social innovation organisation has demonstrated unwavering determination despite formidable rivals. Their resourcefulness and dedication garnered them a fourth-place finish out of 16 universities in both 2018 and 2019, accompanied by the acquisition of five trophies.

UMP ENACTUS teams have through the years demonstrated unwavering determination.

The year 2020 posed challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting alterations in how ENACTUS operated, with national competitions taking place virtually. The UMP team embraced the "new normal," exemplifying the university's value of adaptability. In this transformed setting, the UMP team achieved a remarkable fourth-place position out of 16 universities and secured seven trophies.

In 2021, the team continued its exceptional performance, attaining fourth place out of 16 universities and winning six trophies. Notably, their achievements surpassed those of universities with longer participation in the ENACTUS competition.

In 2022, the UMP team reached new heights, securing four trophies and achieving second place. ENACTUS SA afforded the teams an opportunity to present student-owned businesses, fuelling greater enthusiasm among students. Notably, most team members had not attended nationals before, making this a significant challenge. Post-graduate students Moses Timana and Mfanelo Ndlovu, the experienced members who had previously participated in nationals, diligently trained the rest of the team.

UMP UMP Vice-Chancellor Prof Mayekiso celebrating with the ENACTUS team. 

In 2022, ENACTUS UMP embraced this challenge by encouraging team members to cultivate their enterprises through workshops, resulting in the establishment of six student-owned enterprises addressing diverse societal issues. These included business development, Gender-based Violence, food waste, university applications and internships, shoe cleaning, and post-harvest storage of fresh produce.

For the ENACTUS year, participating enterprises were required to meet specific criteria for the national exposition. These included alignment with the Global Sustainable Development Goals, registration with the Companies Intellectual Property Commission, registration with the South African Revenue Services, and affiliation with a financial institution. Furthermore, the enterprises had to be in their piloting phase, following the ENACTUS Road Map. Despite intense competition, the team secured fifth place and claimed three trophies.

Winning projects

A standout project undertaken by the ENACTUS UMP team since 2017 is the Hatching Hope Chicken Project, which involved distributing layer chickens and roosters to beneficiaries in the rural areas of Nkomazi and Mbombela local municipalities.

The university's commitment to nurturing graduates as innovative and entrepreneurial critical thinkers was put to the test in 2022. ENACTUS South Africa tasked the team with identifying businesses within their ranks to establish an enterprise with a sustainable and innovative impact.

Responding to this challenge, the team introduced the Travel to Trade Project in collaboration with Well of Wisdom Projects, founded by UMP post-graduate student, Siphesihle Shabalala. This project reinterpreted the ancient merchant tradition, capturing the entrepreneurial spirit of effecting change by promoting products and services that positively impact society.

UMP ENACTUS competition during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2022, the winning team's enterprises, Charcool Climate, and Seller’s Chart, stood out. Charcool Climate developed cooling systems employing charcoal, fence, timber, and water to aid street vendors in Mbombela, maintaining temperatures 10°C lower than the ambient temperature. This innovation will reduce spoilage rates and prolong the shelf life of perishable goods.

Seller’s Chart excelled in the Regional Competition at the University of Johannesburg, earning a place among the top 12 teams at the National Exposition, ultimately securing the fifth position. Additionally, Charcool Climate achieved success in the 2022-23 Harmony Food & Health Security Challenge, ranking among the top six and receiving R12 000. They were further crowned the winner of this challenge, receiving an additional R15 000.

Seller’s Chart focuses on supporting informal businesses by providing comprehensive assistance, including business development, marketing strategies, and personalised consultation sessions. Their aim is to guide entrepreneurs in refining their vision and goals, ultimately leading them to success. Apart from consultation services, Sellers' Chart operates as an online advertising platform.

Institutional support

The ENACTUS team enjoys unwavering support from the University and its management. In 2017, the Vice-Chancellor sent the ENACTUS: UMP president, secretary, and coordinator (faculty advisor) to the ENACTUS World Cup in London, England, as observers to glean insights from other nations' practices. This decision significantly aided the team's progress, as evidenced by their accomplishments since 2017.

The team assisted beneficiaries in various ways, including training in various areas. Beneficiaries contributed hatched chicks, continuing the cycle as new beneficiaries received them. The team also spearheaded other social and entrepreneurial projects in rural Mpumalanga communities.

Former ENACTUS members continue to inspire the team, such as former President Confidence Ndlovu, now a lecturer and co-faculty advisor at UMP. Miss Ndlovu's journey serves as motivation, showcasing that the path they are on can lead to greater heights. The success of ENACTUS owes much to the guidance of faculty advisor Prof Ferdinand Niyimbanira, and Co-faculty Advisors Mr. Lukhele and Dr. Xola Nduku.

Story by Lisa Thabethe. Pictures supplied.