Prize-giving, 2019 Champions.

UKZN and SAS Champion Young Women in Analytics

The 2019 “Champions Cohort” of businessmen and women has promised to “grow seeds planted” during a year-long development programme and to partner with UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) in upscaling the initiative.

They made the commitment as they received certificates in celebration of their success in the Champions Programme and the impact their entrepreneurial ventures have had in growing their communities.

The Champions Programme is a community development initiative of the RLEDi and part of a partnership between the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) and UKZN.

The 12 Champions are: Wonderful Dlamini (Izandla Zothando Foundation), Welile Gumede (Azowel Projects), Lindelo Magubane (Container Food Group), Themba Mgwaba (Asikhule Co-operatives Development Corporation NPC), Zandile Makhoba (Zandi the Chef International), Bethuel Mazibuko (B’thebele Enterprises), Ntombikayise Mbuyisa (Greater Edendale Business Forum), Noluthando Evidence Mnguni (Bright Future Leaders), Lungani Mntambo (Fundamental Consulting), Nhlakanipho Nzimande (Ikhuze Farmer PTY (Ltd)), Sibusiso Phakathi (CSP Poultry PTY (Ltd)) and Phumlani Xulu GospArch (Project Solutions).

GSB&L academic and facilitator of the programme Professor Shahida Cassim said this was a social entrepreneurship development intervention for change makers across KwaZulu-Natal.

‘I have over the past years worked with amazing social entrepreneurs who do excellent work and this group is no exception. It is my privilege to work with and provide pragmatic solutions to transform their communities and beyond,’ said Cassim.

‘The model has evolved since inception and we think it is ready to grow through partnerships,’ she added issuing a call for partnerships with private and public sectors.

EDTEA representative, Mr Patrick Mbokazi said the skills the social entrepreneurs had gained from the programme were crucial for the transformation of South Africa’s economy.

‘We are presently in a depressed economy that requires joint interventions and efforts to foster economic growth, so partnering with institutions to host programmes like this will make a difference and push economic development.’

The social entrepreneurs also heard from social entrepreneur, author and speaker Mr Karabo Mokoape, ‘I am encouraged to be in a room of people who have chosen to pledge themselves to improve the country’s growth,’ said Mokoape.

‘There will be challenges in the kind of journey you have chosen but today I assure you that in the fullness of time the world will bend to you and your cause because you are on the right side of history.’

Mr Lindo Duma, a Champions alumnus of 2015, and co-founder of Iziko Stoves which employs rehabilitated substance abusers to create stoves out of recycled gas cylinders, geysers and oil drums, also addressed the gathering.

After much deliberation, the top three social enterprises were identified. Third was nutritious meals enthusiast and international chef Zandi Makhoba, second was Phakathi’s hatchery and breeding farm’s social investment in eggshell beneficiation through a community cooperative, with the top spot going to Gumede’s youth empowerment enterprise that uses barren and unused agriculture tunnels to farm produce to create revenue and youth employment.

Standard Bank sponsored the 1st prize of R10 000; Al Baraka Bank awarded the 2nd prize of R8 000, and the Ismail Bana Charitable Trust gave R5 000 to the 3rd prize winner.

The winners undertook to spend their prize money on advancing the causes that they were committed to.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga
Photograph: Supplied