UKZN in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) hosted a Champions Demo Day to showcase the initiatives of 20 social entrepreneurs.
Headed by the Local Economic Development (LED) Unit in UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L), the programme aims to bridge LED capacity gaps in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) through coordinated and integrated teaching, learning and applied research.
These programmes that are jointly delivered with the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) and Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) empower social entrepreneurs, also known as “LED Champions” to be changemakers in their communities.
In his keynote address, GSB&L senior lecturer Dr Macdonald Kanyangale highlighted the importance of businesses generating revenue but also being able to address real-life problems. Encouraging financial institutions to come to the party and support LED Champions as catalysts for social change, he said, ‘We invite you as financial institutions to come along and watch these social entrepreneurs as they start small, grow and expand.’ Kanyangale also urged participants to implement the advice given to them and to value networking as an opportunity to gain knowledge and information from like-minded individuals.
Project Manager for the LED Unit and Project Lead of the programme, Dr Simon Taylor reflected on his involvement in preparing the entrepreneurs for their pitches as well as lecturing them. Commenting on UKZN’s partnership with EDTEA which dates back to 2010, he shared plans for the programme next year and acknowledged lecturing staff at UNIZULU and MUT for their support and engagement in the project.
The 20 social entrepreneurs had 10 minutes to elevator pitch their enterprises and five minutes for a Q&A session before a panel of judges from fields in academia, banking and investment.
The winner was Ms Nompumelelo Gabashe, a MUT student, from Banophuma Trading Enterprise who shared her plans to develop a shopping centre closer to home; while the runner-up was Mr Sinenhlanhla Gazu, a UNIZULU student, who owns Digital World Marketing and Communications that provides affordable and convenient advertising services to his community. They each received cash prizes of R5 000 sponsored by Nedbank that also pledged to assist them with mentorship and financial literacy programmes.
In closing, Mr Patrick Mbokazi, Deputy Director for Capacity Building and Institutional Development at EDTEA thanked all those who made the event a success. Highlighting the value of such events in promoting social entrepreneurship and the social economy, he added: ‘As government, working hand in hand with you, we believe that social entrepreneurs have the potential to create job opportunities and alleviate the burden of youth unemployment.’
The event was facilitated by Mr Themba Ngwaba, founder of a number of co-operatives, who graduated from the programme in 2018.
Words: Hlengiwe Khwela
Photographs: Albert Hirasen