MUT Nature Conservation students pitch their business ideas

Refiloe Ntoi, sixth from right, with the students that pitched their business ideas. Note winners, Amanda Mpungose, fifth from right, and Ngcebo Thwala, left

When the third-year Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Nature Conservation students graduate, they will have more than their counterparts with the same qualification: they will have the skills to start and run a business.

On 10 November 2022, these students pitched their business plans to three judges as part of efforts by the University to integrate entrepreneurship into the curriculum.

A Lecturer in the Department of Nature Conservation, Refiloe Ntoi, said the purpose of this event was to inculcate students with entrepreneurial and business management skills. Ntoi said that entrepreneurship was becoming an important domain across all disciplines.

“It has become mandatory to include entrepreneurship in the academic curriculum so that students acquire skills beyond their mainstream qualifications to respond to the harsh unemployment state of the country. It is even more important to encourage students to embrace innovation that is rooted in environmental sustainability, what we sometimes call ecological entrepreneurship or green entrepreneurship,” explained Refiloe.

Ntoi was impressed by the ideas that were put forward by the 12 students when they pitched their businesses to the judges. The students talked about their business intentions and responded to questions from the judges.

Ntoi said the pitching session was a “huge success and students are in a process of registering their business plans with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). She added that the students presented various business ideas, and that; “some included running a construction company that is rooted in the principles of environmental sustainability”.

Amanda Mpungose said that it was important that architects and investors embrace ecological entrepreneurship, particularly during the current times when the world needs to respond accordingly to the threats of climate change.

Ngcebo Thwala presented a business idea that would include running an environmentally friendly fitness centre that requires minimal water and energy to be consumed in the gym by installing water-saving and energy-efficient machinery.

The judges nominated Amanda as the first winner and Ngcebo as the second winner.