UCT hosts dynamic and engaging regional inter-university entrepreneurship competition

by MMC
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Transforming Africa into an economic powerhouse of the future requires ingenuity, innovative business ideas and passion. And student entrepreneurs at Cape Town universities are well on their way to achieving this monumental goal.

And they set things in motion on Tuesday September 19 at the Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking Afrika (d-school) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). d-school Afrika was a hive of activity as budding student entrepreneurs from UCT, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of Stellenbosch and University of the Western Cape presented their business ideas in the regional round of the Inter-University Entrepreneurship Competition 2023. The competition is an initiative of the Development of Entrepreneurship in Higher Education (EDHE) program and is presented by the Department of Higher Education and of Training (DHET) and the Universities of South Africa (USAf). The annual event aims to identify the best student entrepreneurs from South Africa’s 26 public universities and provides students with a platform to showcase their businesses and attract investors to their businesses. It also gives students whose businesses are in the idea phase the opportunity to present their concepts.

Nadia Waggie, UCT inter-university competition coordinator and head of sustainability and impact at Careers Service, said the regional finalists beat their peers from their respective universities to compete in the regional round of the competition . And a lot of preparation went into making sure the students were ready to present their projects. Waggie said each candidate participated in interactive workshops, critical feedback sessions and one-on-one sessions with mentors and communicators to refine their presentations.

“Let’s embark on this incredible journey to build a community that thrives through innovation, resilience and the pursuit of social consciousness. »

“Now we can hear the fruits of your labor, as each student takes a bold step toward realizing their entrepreneurial ambitions. Whether you’re a seasoned business enthusiast or just beginning to explore the world of entrepreneurship, this cross-collegiate competition is designed to inspire, educate and connect. It’s an opportunity to network with like-minded people who share your passion for innovation and who have the potential to become future collaborators or even mentors,” Waggie told attendees ahead of the pitch. “Let’s embark on this incredible journey to build a community that thrives through innovation, resilience and the pursuit of social consciousness. »

A victory for UCT

The exciting regional event, held ahead of the highly anticipated national event in November, saw 32 students present their ideas to a panel of judges during a three-minute presentation. Afterwards, the judges led a question and answer session to gain a deeper understanding of each student’s concept. UCT student Vuyolwethu Mpetshwa’s business, Hair for Royals, came top in the existing business – general category. The company is considered a leading player in the hair and beauty industry and offers a comprehensive list of goods and services to meet various beauty needs. One of Hair for Royals’ flagship products is the Waterproof Wig Glue, known for its “exceptional” quality and durability, which is aimed at customers who need reliable wig hold.

According to Dr. Norah Clarke, director of entrepreneurship at USAf, since the competition launched five years ago, universities across the country have been committed to growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem among their students. And the connection, growth, support and sharing of best practices has been great. At the podium, Dr. Clark also announced a new competition category that highlights research-based companies. This category, she explained, was included to provide postgraduate students with an opportunity to think about the commercial value of their research projects.

Student entrepreneurs from Cape Town universities have presented their business ideas in the regional round of the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition.

“This is really exciting because postgraduate students should be thinking about the commercial potential of their research. We should be well behind the days when research was purely theoretical and rarely referenced and considered in the daily improvement of our country and our world,” Clarke said.

Outstanding achievements

During his speech, Emeritus Professor Daya Reddy, Vice-Chancellor of UCT temp worker, told student entrepreneurs that reaching the regional round of the competition is an exceptional achievement. He said this achievement demonstrates that they are original and creative thinkers who see problems as opportunities and have invested significant time and energy in developing solutions to these problems; solutions that others might have overlooked in the past.

“In this sense, you are explorers, exploring new territories in the world of business and technology ideas,” said Professor Emeritus Reddy. “Young budding entrepreneurs, the world needs you; our continent needs you. We need your creative minds.

“There are only a limited number that will make it to the national round, but the opportunities are there and they remain there.”

He said that by developing an entrepreneurial mindset while pursuing a university degree, students’ chances of success increase, as they have the opportunity to engage with their peers, experts among university staff, as well as support services in their establishments. And while it’s inevitable that not all participating entrepreneurs will qualify for the next round, Reddy encouraged the cohort to continue their successes in other ways.

“By being here, you have already succeeded. A limited number of people will make it to the national round, but the opportunities are there and they remain there. I want you to view this special engagement as an opportunity to hone your potential, test ideas, and hear from the judges. Don’t be discouraged if you are not selected for the next round. It’s just one aspect of the whole business,” he said.

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