Student business owners appeal for valuable platform to be regular as it boosts brand awareness. 

From student-manufactured perfumes to thrift stores presenting affordable clothing items, the Student Entrepreneurship, Education and Development (Seed) market day was a colourful display of creativity and variety. 

The market day was held at the Library Lawns on Friday, May 19, offering a lively and vibrant experience, inviting student entrepreneurs to showcase their diverse range of business products. 

In addition to introducing students to their products, the market day proved profitable for student entrepreneurs as Jean Banda from Zer Thrift, an online thrift store, said, “You can see by the way students are buying, they want more of this.”  

The Seed programme, a collaboration between the Wits Development and Leadership Unit (DLU) and the Young African Entrepreneur Institute (YAEI) was established three years ago. The DLU, a division of student affairs, provides co-curricular development opportunities for personal, social and professional growth, while the YAEI, a registered youth-led non-profit organisation, empowers youth with practical skills and support to transition their venture ideas into impactful start-ups.  

Their joint venture, Seed, aims to equip students from all faculties with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to start and successfully start and manage their own businesses. 

Thato Wesi, the executive head of marketing and corporate affairs at YAEI, said that the market day served two primary purposes: to foster confidence in student entrepreneurs, enabling them to effectively “sell themselves” and to provide them with networking opportunities with fellow student entrepreneurs.  

Madhi Mohamed, a civil engineering master’s student and the founder of HnH perfumes, said the market day was an excellent platform to raise brand awareness for his business. “People are not aware of these more Arabic, Dubai perfumes and also locally based products … where its more affordable than going to the stores where you buy perfume for R2 000. You might as well purchase one that lasts just as long for R200 [from us].”

Mahdi Mohamed (22) says his Arabic perfumes offer better value than those sold at regular stores.
Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers

Echoing Mohamed’s sentiments Lehlogonolo Mabitsi, founder of Rebellious Clothing, an online based clothing store, said that he was happy he got the opportunity to introduce his merchandise to more students. The third-year bachelor of arts in film and television student added that it was a great feeling to have customers experience his product for themselves. 

Among the vibrant stalls, a prevailing sentiment resonated among the student entrepreneurs—a unanimous desire for the market day to become a recurring event. “I feel like it would be more satisfying if these were held every two weeks,” said Banda.  

Yasmin Wania, a fourth-year LLB student and founder of Cyber Rats Attic, an online thrift and consignment store emphasised the need for more effective marketing targeting students. “If Wits decides to do it more often, which I hope they do, they should definitely tell everyone it’s happening,” says Wania. 

In response, Kristan Sharpley, a student development practitioner from the DLU, said, “The Development and Leadership Unit is definitely interested in providing more opportunities for students to showcase their businesses. As the student entrepreneurship community continues to grow, so will opportunities for them to engage with their customers.”   Samuel Zitha, a third-year politics and international relations student who attended the market, said he had discovered several brands he had been unaware of and appreciated that the market was “advertising what students really need, like clothes and affordable jewellery. It was student based, we were their target market, they did their homework, so it was good.” 

Students Sphelele Maseko (21) and Samuel Zitha (21) take a break from shopping at the Seed Market. Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers

FEATURED IMAGE: Lehlogonolo Mabitisi (22), owner of Rebellious Clothing, poses with his merchandise. Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers

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