The workshop, which will run until June and is organized by the Centre for Entrepreneurship Rapid incubator (CFERI) and the Graduate and Placement Office, aims to empower and support students with tools and knowledge on how to start businesses after they graduate.
UMP CFERI Centre Manager, Dr Kanayo Ogujiuba, said the purpose of the workshop is to develop and groom UMP student entrepreneurs to become successful in the businesses they choose.
“Our vision is to support our alumni to have sustainable businesses. We are supporting and capacitating small and medium enterprises within the province to be operational and to be able to assist with job creation.
This workshop is designed to ensure that our third-year students across all faculties are empowered with business knowledge and to get them job-ready should they choose to seek employment,” said Dr Ogujiuba.
The university has partnered with several stakeholders to ensure that the students get the best from the event. Some of the organisations included the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency, which assists small, medium and micro enterprises and cooperatives with funding opportunities.
“The organisation provides funding in respect of property, business, enterprise and agricultural development.The industries that are targeted are manufacturing, retail, hospitality, tourism, agriculture and construction,” said Sezanele Zondi.
He further said the organisation supports the hospitality industry through, for example, funding of guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and transportation in the tourism sector. “We also provide funding of restaurants, and assist with the growth and development of emerging and commercial farmers, and agricultural cooperatives,” said Zondi.
Students were also advised to look at various ways of community development and social cohesion initiatives. Hlengiwe Ngomane from the National Youth Development Trust explained the social ills the world is facing today, which require social cohesion and the need for people to become united. “The United Nations is challenging us to come together and solve the issues of unemployment. This starts with young people who have the responsibility to ensure that communities are developed,” she said.
Ngomane explained that what this means is that if a student has information about agriculture opportunities and your friend is sitting at home unemployed, you can share your knowledge and create a business where more people can participate.
Business finance is also a big part of becoming an entrepreneur and securing funding is also crucial, said Sabelo Mamba from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency.
He said his organisation offers small, medium and micro enterprises with funding, which includes direct lending from R50 000 to R15 million. This covers asset finance, bridging loans, revolving loans, term loans and township and rural entrepreneurship programmes.
“There is also technical support, commercial and industrial properties, institutional strengthening, investee company board representation and fund management services, which the students can choose from,” he added. Other support services are post investment management, workout and restructuring.”
4IR is the future and students learnt more about how to become part of it, and the use of drone technology in business solutions for entrepreneurs said David Malematsa. He explained that the fourth industrial revolution would also bring solutions that will assist to change the way hotel systems function.
The workshop was beneficial to the students who attended such as Kgothatso Maphopha who is studying for a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. “Before the workshop I was anxious about her future and the direction I wanted to take post my graduation but the information I gathered here has empowered me with all the necessary information I need to make a decision,” she said.
“Now I’m clued up about the agencies that support entrepreneurs. I know that before you get funded you attend training and are helped with your business plan. I learnt about all the different policies in the workplace. I now also know what is expected of me as an entrepreneur, employee, employer and agricultural student.”
Another student who found the workshop useful is Thapelo Mamiane who was amongst the students who won the 2020 EDHE competition and recently awarded R2 000. He says the workshop gave him plenty of insights and more knowledge about entrepreneurship and running a successful start-up.
“The workshop has been a great experience which brought plenty of innovative business ideas. Ideas that were just ideas have been given hope to become more than just dreams.
He says the workshop has empowered him with skills and presented opportunities that are out there waiting to be grabbed. “The support that is given to business minded or businesspeople is remarkable; the motivation and drive to become an entrepreneur is revolutionary. The most important thing I have learned from the workshop is that there are organizations that are set to assist us in our business ventures.”
The UMP-CFERI centre and the Graduate Placement Division hopes the workshops have empowered students with business skills to run successful and thriving businesses. “We also hope the knowledge will assist the students to succeed post graduation,” said Raymond Mkhwanazi from the Graduate Placement Division.
Other organisations that presented at the workshops included the Small Enterprise Development Agency, the Department of Labour and the National Empowerment Fund. The workshop will run until June 2021 when all the faculties have attended.
@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures by ChrisplPhoto.