Thrilling entrepreneurial battle gets underway at Wits  

A sum of R100 000 awaits the overall winner of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) competition. 

The internal round of EDHE Entrepreneurial Intervarsity 2023 competition was held at Wits University on May 27, in the Senate Room at Solomon Mahlangu House. One lucky student will walk away with R5 000.  

The annual competition is held in the first quarter of each year to identify and showcase the best student entrepreneurs at South African public universities.  

Investors are brought on board to mentor the student entrepreneurs and provide the R5 000 prize money to help bring their ideas to life. The winner of the Wits internal competition will be announced on June 02, 2023. Those who remain in the race will compete in the regional and national rounds.  

Participants present mock pitches, which must include detailed information such as their business’s significance, uniqueness, and plans for the next five years. These pitches must be convincing enough to both the judging panel and investors.  If successful they will proceed to the regional round, and if successful there onto nationals.  

The internal round saw participants present ideas for businesses in beauty and cosmetics, skills training within waste management and recycling, media and visual arts start-ups, events management and more.  

There are four categories in the competition: innovative business ideas, existing business – technology, existing business – social impact, and existing business – general. This year, the competition added a fifth category, research-based business, to encourage the commercialization of research. 

According to the event organiser, Qawekazi Luke, over 200 students applied for the competition, and 114 were chosen to compete in the internal rounds. Further, 74 student entrepreneurs will compete in the regional round. 

“The competition’s positive reception and excitement among students demonstrates the University’s growing interest in entrepreneurship,” Luke said. 

“As the coordinators, part of the planning included masterclasses facilitated by the Wits Student Entrepreneurship Education and Development (SEED) program. These masterclasses focused on market research and marketing principles, business model canvas, and how to develop a pitch deck,” Luke said. 

This is where judges who are experienced in entrepreneurship and innovation step in to adjudicate the process and provide the students with valuable feedback to further develop their business ideas. 

YouTuber and second-year BA student, Lulah Mapiye said the experience was a huge confidence boost. “I have made it this far, to say I am excited is an understatement. When my turn came, I took over the stage. It was as if I transformed into another person and came back after the pitch,” Mapiye said.  

One judge Faith Mokgalaka who is a multi-award winning businesswoman, published author, product manager, and a speaker said, “Being a judge gave me a different perspective of the competition because it was not an easy and obvious process as there will only be one winner at the end,” 

The next phase of the competition will see participants compete against peers from other South African universities, to secure a spot in the finals, and one step closer to the R100 000 prize, a financial boost many of them need.

FEATURED IMAGE: Risuna Maluleke, coordinator of Student Entrepreneurship and Education Development (SEED). Photo: Supplied.


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


When kids give to kids


WORKING IT: One of the creations featured at the ‘What You Rocking’ fashion show put on by three charity organisations. Photo: Provided

They give away their profits to take care of infant babies, create self-sustainable decent homes for aids orphans, children from dysfunctional homes and children living in the streets and cater to post matriculants too.
These are hero students from Wits, University of Johannesburg and surrounding educational institutions who are doing great work with the profits they make from their entrepreneurial efforts. People pay them to watch art and fashion shows, listen to their poetry and music, and at the end of the day they use their money for the needy children of Berea.

The project, which started last year, launched its first big event last month. Student entrepreneur, Kgothatso Habedi and his friend Lesego Moeletsi, started their company, Oh2sickPRO_Deuce. They are based in Johannesburg and the Vaal.

“Basically we are all artists. Our company is a photography and graphic design company but sometimes we host events. We’ve done some stuff for DJ Speedsta and Goodfolx. We love and support everything art and media based,” Habedi said.

[pullquote]“We encourage young people to come in and help especially in areas they like most.”[/pullquote]

The company has worked with other companies in organising and hosting some of their major events which include the ‘What You Rocking’ runway event that took place in March. These companies include SSM Ploughback and Starting Now South Africa.

“[After] our first event, we donated 90% of the funds to two children’s homes in Berea.

“As a brand we work with other companies. One of our DJs are on radio, one of our graphic designers has a clothing label and I am starting a new project. So as we grow we look to working with more people,” Habedi said.
Phephisile Nkanyezi Mathizerd, SSM Ploughback’s music and art director, said that as a company they do a lot of events and outreach programmes but she is mostly in charge of the arts division.
It organises events that range from poetry sessions to drama and fashion events.

“We encourage young people to come in and help especially in areas they like most,” she said.

SSM Ploughback is officially affiliated with two charity organisations, two children’s homes called The Christ Church Christian Care Centre (5Cees) and Mofumahadi wa Tsepo Care. These are orphanages and care centres which provide services to children, adoption services, child development centres, foster care and includes infant care centres and nurseries.

“We run mentorship programs and entertain these children by playing with them and celebrating their birthdays with them. We also collect clothes for them for the winter season,” she said.
SSM Ploughback targets young people and encourages involvement through showcasing their talents in art or helping out with the underprivileged children.