Existing and new businesses will be supported to create a long-lasting entrepreneurial spirit at the university.

The Wits SRC entrepreneurship office is offering free promotional support to current students and alumni who are business owners.

With the free online promotions hosted on the SRC’s social media accounts, the office says it seeks to increase the online visibility of businesses owned by Witsies. They also aim to connect the entrepreneurs with the relevant people who will help their businesses thrive, through funding or mentorship opportunities.

Sphesihle Mndzebele, the Wits SRC projects and campaigns officer says she started developing this idea when she officially assumed office in November 2020. The office began the project rollout by promoting its first business on its social media pages on February 1.

“We are trying to create a student business network within the university space. We are trying to make entrepreneurship very fashionable at Wits,” said Mndzebele.

She also told Wits Vuvuzela that she believes the Wits SRC name carries a lot of weight and thus the body should use this to benefit Witsies. “People have more interest when we as the SRC become the mediator of the conversation.

“Wits alumni will also be assisted because we believe that once a Witsie, always a Witsie,” said Mndzebele.

All students must do for assistance is provide the SRC with their student details and their businesses details. Witsies who seek funding need to submit a business plan as well.

The Witsies that require funding will have to meet with the SRC entrepreneurship sub-committee to evaluate the business plan. The SRC will then approach the relevant funders on the Witsies’ behalf and play an intermediary role between the parties involved.

Mndzebele said “We as the SRC do not provide the funding ourselves but we do start the conversation and assist entrepreneurs with getting the funding they may need.”

The SRC understands that it remains important to protect Witsies’ ideas throughout this process, and, according to Mndzebele, everyone involved “has to sign a non-disclosure agreement before we can even assist [business owners]”.

Mndzebele says that through this initiative, the entrepreneurship office of the SRC hopes to create a long-lasting entrepreneurial spirit at the university, allowing for Witsies to support each other and build valuable networks.

Wits alumnus, Mbuso Makitla (22), who completed an honours in big data analytics in 2020, co-owns an online store called AddaxZ which sells locally made artworks and clothing brands to customers countrywide. Makitla, whose business was the first to be promoted on Wits SRC social media pages says the partnership will be a “game changer” for his business.

“My partners and I [who are also Witsies] approached the Wits SRC because we know the impact of their voice at Wits and on a national level. The impact the SRC will bring will not only open more doors but also bring more customers, as it will give us a sense of ‘validation’ which will help with growth,” the AddaxZ business owner told Wits Vuvuzela.

Wits Students interested in applying for SRC assistance can email src.projects@students.wits.ac.za

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits SRC hopes students at other South African universities will be inspired to join the movement to make entrepreneurship fashionable. Photo: Akhona Matshoba