Students encouraged to network at universities

BUSINESSWOMAN: Dr Mzikazi Nduna was the guest speaker for pop-up talk hosted by BWASC. Photo: Provided

“WE NEED to break the cycle of women lacking in the business sphere because the only way, as women, that we can take a stage and participate in business is if we intervene and break that.”

These are the words of 2017 Businesswoman of the Year Award in Education and Wits Head of the School of Human and Community Development, Dr Mzikazi Nduna, at Wits Education campus on Tuesday evening. She was a guest speaker for a pop-up talk by the Wits Businesswomen’s Association Student Chapter (BWASC) as part of a financial literacy seminar organised by the Medhurst Hall residence house committee.
Nduna was speaking to female residence students about the lack of women in the business and the importance of association.

According to the BWASC chairperson and postgraduate LLB student, Boikhutso Mokoto, the pop-up talk is part of a series that will continue for the rest of the year. “It’s a good marketing tool but these ones are specifically for a recruitment drive and we’re just trying to rally up the numbers and get people signed up and introduce them to the BWA,” she said.

Nduna spoke about the importance for students to make connections at university and to remember them for the future.
“One of things that helps men and women succeed in their chosen careers or in business is the power of association. It is very important for you to think that the people that you meet in this university during your time here are going to be important to you in the next 10, 15 or 20 years,” said Nduna.

“If you had started to connect with these people when you were in varsity, then you can be available to leverage something called social capital, which is the ability for us to come together and do things together. Social capital enables us to participate in platforms where we share information, knowledge, skills and advice and where we are able to start up associations and companies,” she added.

The BWASC has been operational for a year and for 2018, plans to conduct initiatives that will be focusing on leadership, skills development and entrepreneurship for female students. It is also starting a mentorship circle.

“What we want to do with the mentorship circles that we’re launching is to insure that as a third-year or fourth-year student, you can give someone the advice that you didn’t have and as a first or second year student, you can get through the system with less humps and bumps,” said Mokoto.

The BWASC will be hosting a welcome evening on Thursday, March 1.


Pilot programme for women empowerment


TWO FEMALE Wits University students aim to empower and inspire young women through their pilot programme, the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s (Bwasa) Student Chapter Programme, which was launched earlier this year with over 160 members.

Inspire and empower: Boikhutso Mokoto and Itumeleng Makgato commit to empower young women across university spaces.

Boikhutso Mokoto and Itumeleng Makgato, who are both doing their third year in Bachelor of Commerce, identified the gap between the programmes that Bwasa offered and its empowerment structure. From there, they established the student chapter in order to help empower young women from high school throughout university and into the work place.

The organisation devised training programmes, one being a mentorship programme, where students get mentorship from experienced members in similar industries.  There are also panel discussion between stakeholders and students, and a leadership programme designed to help young women who aspire to hold positions in student governance.

Makgato told Wits Vuvuzela that the organisation is trying to empower more women into positions of leadership around campuses.

“We are trying to make sure that first year students coming to university are more prepared. Graduates have more opportunities for employment and they are better prepared for the work place and know how to navigate and set personal goals,” she said.

Makgato said the organisation also empowers entrepreneurs. “We are trying to make sure that entrepreneurs get access to funding, mentors and a market for them to sell and distribute their products and services.”

The 22-year-old said they have an entrepreneurship fund.  “We are going to fund students for any ideas that they have, that are good and are solving the problems that students have and are based on campus.”

Mokoto told Wits Vuvuzela that they are taking the empowerment message and spreading it to the varsity space and to young women. She added that they are currently running a programme called Fast Track to Success.

“It is a work place readiness programme which address the issues of CV write up and cover page skills, interview skills, personal branding for the business space, and how to navigate the business space.”

Mokoto said they are in the process of launching the organisation in six other universities next year.

Third year Information Systems student, Kuhle Siyo told Wits Vuvuzela that she benefited from the panel discussions. “It has been helpful in that aspect to talk to people that are already in that position for when you get there,” Siyo said.

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Wits Vuvuzela, March 2016, Scribbles and Nibbles: For students by students