Seed of entrepreneurship flourishes on market day 

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


Big payout for pushing passion in SRC

Christmas will come early for Wits SRC members when the university pays members for rendering their services to students.

A stipend committee made up of SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa, SRC treasurer Justice Nkomo, a student development and leadership unit representative and the dean of students will determine how much the SRC members deserve. Mgudlwa said the rating criteria changed from year to year.

[pullquote]Some members “received as much as R8 000” while other unlucky members received “zilch”[/pullquote]The amount varied depending on how effective an SRC member was in implementing their programmes during the year.
“Nonetheless standard criteria would include how many portfolio objectives each member achieved, attendance of SRC events and meetings; conduct and discipline,” Mgudlwa said.

Each year all SRC members had a meeting in which they drafted criteria. It was then the duty of the stipend committee to determine the remuneration of each member. It would be difficult to estimate the average amount that a member could receive, he said. However, a former SRC member, who asked to remain anonymous, said last year some members “received as much as R8 000” while other unlucky members received “zilch”.

Mgudlwa stressed that members of the SRC should not worry as this year’s SRC had not yet sat down to discuss the 2013 stipends. He said the current SRC would hold a meeting in the coming weeks to decide the amounts and rules surrounding the 2013 stipends. “All could change. For example the current SRC could decide that no one receives more than R5 000 or a change in criteria.”

The university funds these stipends, which are included in the university’s budget each year. Last year the university set aside a little more than R60 000 for the SRC stipends.

[VIDEO] Sisulu wants you to set a new agenda

A museum devoted to uncovering and celebrating the history of modern humankind was a fitting venue to host the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Lindiwe Sisulu, who spoke to students yesterday about the importance of setting a new gender agenda.

A new agenda

Sisulu was the keynote speaker at the cocktail dinner hosted by the Student Development and Leadership Unit (SDLU) in association with Mail and Guardian at Wits Origins Center, on Monday.  “I want to propose a new agenda, to begin by recording the struggles of women as women. To make sure that it’s a woman’s voice that speaks about the conditions we find ourselves in,” she said.

Speaking on the “agenda on gender”, Sisulu said women’s struggles were poorly documented and were often written by men. She said women still experienced gender-based violence and sexism in all spheres. Sisulu said the African National Congress (ANC) was dedicated to mainstreaming women’s struggles to ensure that these were identified and attended to effective.

The Spear

“We of the ruling party the African National Congress remain undeterred in our fight for the attainment of a society where men and women would not live in fear of being discriminated against or oppressed,” she said. Kelebogile Setletjeke, 4th year Actuarial Science, asked Sisulu why there wasn’t as much outcry over the rape a four month year baby this month as with the Zuma Spear saga.

[pullquote]We must demand equality[/pullquote]

Sisulu said Kelebogile’s question was a fair criticism of the ANC. She said there was an outcry because “it was the first time that we had seen a frontal image of any president in that nature. We thought we needed to show our abhorrence on the attack on the president.”

We have run our course what remains is your course

Sisulu said addressing Witsies was a mark of her “coming full circle” as she had occupied the same space in her youth. She said as a student she wanted to ensure that woman’s struggles where always brought to the fore.  Sisulu who holds as a Master’s degree in gender studies said, the task of highlighting women’s struggle was now placed upon the new generation of young women. “We have run our course – what remains is your course.”

Sisulu highlighted the importance of remembering women such as Charlotte Maxeke who had paved the way for the women of this generation. “Women’s struggle remains an appendix to our history but from time to time these struggles are only dug up as a feel good gesture in a month like this.”

Memory lane

She took the audience down memory lane, discussing how women had to carry over six passes to qualify to be out of prison. She used this anecdote to highlight how three generations of women had fought to give current generation women the opportunities they now have.  “We are here today because they fought; there was no divine intervention,”

Sisulu said the responsibility now lie with the youth to ensure that they “address systems of patriarchy and systems that did not lead themselves to a nation of equality.

We must demand equality

Students also asked Sisulu where she drew her strength from and how men could be re-educated about the role of women in South Africa? Sisulu said she received support from the ANC Women’s League and the tireless work they do to ensure that equality is achieved. She said the education of men would not happen overnight but rather through persistence by the new generation of women consistently claiming their equal space in society.

“We must demand equality.”