Dr F Niyimbanira

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Dr Ferdinand Niyimbanira

The Winner of the 2019 UMP Engagement Excellence Award: Dr Ferdinand Niyimbanira
Apart from being a senior Lecturer of Economics, I am also the ENACTUS University of Mpumalanga Team Coordinator. After being assigned by the University Vice Chancellor, Professor Thoko Mayekiso, I took the responsibility to make ENACTUS UMP known both on campus and national wide as part of my engagement. The team has been developed to a level of being one of the most competitive teams among other universities. Currently, our team consist of 71 members/students from different field of studies within the university and our 2020 year plan is to double the number.  We have managed to create an active and hardworking UMP ENECTUS team in a very short period of time. Such an effort required an outstanding leadership, dedication and coaching skills to facilitate and train students to understand the ultimate significance of applying entrepreneurial actions in implementing community economic development projects.  

Under my leadership, the ENACTUS UMP was initiated and has been running different entrepreneurship projects that have positive impacts in the communities where the projects are based. The impact is not only limited to the community benefits but also the associated developmental growth of the UMP students who are involved in ENACTUS. Using my knowledge and expertise as educator, I encourage students to utilise their energy and enthusiasm for improving lives, strengthening our communities and developing socially responsible and self-sustainable businesses. 
I am very committed to the promotion and advocacy for entrepreneurship to students and, to a certain extent, the immediate community served by UMP. My way of advancing the national agenda for entrepreneurship development in higher education is by introducing community development projects that promote the power of business. I am passionate about practice-based approaches to entrepreneurship education and this, I have been doing and continue to do through the work done by the ENACTUS UMP team. 

One of the key projects run by ENACTUS UMP team is the poultry farming project called Hatching Hope. The project has different beneficiaries in two areas in Mpumalanga Province, namely, Nkomazi and KaMsogwaba (Pienaar). The plan is to up-scale the project to many parts of the Province. The Hatching Hope Project won different awards since its inception in 2016. For example, in 2017 and 2019 the project won the Harmony Gold Local Economic Development Challenge Award. In 2018, the team won the NEDBANK Scaling for Impact Challenge Award of R50 000. My work does not only benefit the projects’ beneficiaries who receive advice and guidance on how to run their poultry farming businesses but the members of ENACTUS UMP team also gain entrepreneurship skills as some of the members already started their own businesses. In addition to that, the team members who are UMP students gain a lot through my mentorship, coaching, leadership and communication skills. 

ENACTUS UMP is in the process of fulfilling the vision of the University by creating different type of opportunities for students and community around the university. All our projects are aimed at addressing the triple bottom keys which also known as triple PPPs (People, Profit and Planet). In other words, all our projects have social, environmental and economic outcomes and impacts. These three aspects are interlinked and if well taken in consideration they can contribute to the goals of sustainable economic development. In order to achieve this ultimate goal, innovation is at the centre of the whole process.

My contribution as a scholar does not lie in teaching and doing research only, my involvement in community economic development projects is also at the centre of my contribution. What I do through my community engagement activities is to make sure that our students understand well the role of social enterprise; which is to address social, economic and environmental injustice for future sustainable development.
I was very humbled and honoured to be the first recipient of the UMP Engagement Excellence Award. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the University Management for all kind of support I received since 2016 and our Vice Chancellor, Professor Thoko Mayekiso who trusted me with such responsibility.