28 September 2023

The Play Your Part Ignite campaign is designed to ignite the entrepreneurial drive in budding business owners, equipping them with the tools essential for their ventures to prosper. A key focus of the campaign is to assist participants in crafting a concise and impactful elevator pitch.

Samuel Melusi Simelane, the founder of Khehla Lami General Supply and Cleaning, clinched the first position along with a cash prize of R12 000. He expressed, “Winning means that we are on the right track, it gives us the confidence and the persistence to keep going and strive for more. The prize money will help to market and advertise our business and raise awareness of the importance of credit scores.”

The Bachelor of Commerce graduate further elaborated, “The master class was very informative, especially when pitching to potential investors. It was enjoyable and provided us with the opportunity to network with stakeholders and peers. We were subsequently invited to Rise FM to share our journey and plans. The competition led to a substantial increase in our following and engagement on our social media platforms.”

Simelane’s business, a hygiene and safety company, specializes in cleaning services, cleaning material supplies, purified water, and personal protective clothing. He stated, “We are located at stand no 1909 Kanyamazane and the UMPCFERI (University of Mpumalanga Centre for Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator) Building 12 is our second home. We offer high-quality cleaning hampers at affordable prices and are introducing a direct debit prepaid service for students to simultaneously boost their credit scores and acquire necessary hygiene supplies.”

UMPB-Organic products are developed by Phindile Sithole, an Honours Student at UMP.

Phindile Sithole, the founder of B-Organic products, secured the second position and received a cash prize of R8 000. She remarked, “This achievement marks a significant milestone for B-Organic, opening doors for expansion and growth.”

Sithole, an Honours in Sociology student, a tutor, and the secretary of the UMP Entrepreneurship Club, stated, “I’m guided by the principle of 'You are the bag, secure yourself.’ I've placed a strong emphasis on prioritising mental well-being and seizing opportunities that contribute to personal growth and benefit others.”

She added that after serving as a Cantu Beauty Fellow in 2022, she collaborated with a diverse, global team to conduct extensive industry research on hair trends, with a specific focus on the challenges faced by individuals with 4c hair. “This experience enhanced my research skills, complementing my academic background. Drawing from this foundation, as well as the entrepreneurial insights gained through my academic pursuits and involvement with the University of Mpumalanga's Entrepreneurship Centre, I embarked on the journey to establish my own venture, B-Organic, in April 2023. The name, 'B-Organic,' signifies a celebration of natural beauty and self-acceptance."

The University's Centre for Entrepreneurship played a pivotal role in laying the foundation for B-Organic. It was through this centre that Sithole became aware of the Play Your Part event. She leveraged the community they had built to recognise an opportunity within a WhatsApp group.

UMPSamuel Melusi Simelane, the founder of Khehla Lami General Supply and Cleaning during a radio interview.

Zaba Mokoena, founder of Hers Truly, secured third place and won R5 000. The Bachelor of Agriculture honours graduate shared, “I was invited to attend the Brand SA competition to pitch my business and the rest is history. The experience was very insightful and fun to showcase all the academic knowledge acquired over the years.”

The UMPCFERI programme played a crucial role in empowering these students with the skills necessary to excel in the competition. The studentpreneurs received guidance in structuring emerging businesses and exploiting untapped opportunities from a fresh perspective.

Simelane emphasised the significance of the knowledge gained from the UMPCFERI, stating, “It is at the centre where we receive all the necessary information to help us take our businesses to greater heights. We are very honoured to be part of the programme and the help they have been providing us. Without them, this achievement would have remained a mere dream.”

Play Your Part is a nationwide initiative created to inspire, empower, and celebrate active citizenship in South Africa. It aims to uplift the spirit of our nation by encouraging all South Africans to contribute to positive change, become involved, and take action. A nation of people who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live benefits everyone. The initiative seeks to motivate South Africans to devote some of their time, money, skills, or resources towards building a better future for all.

By Lisa Thabethe. Pictures Supplied.