‘Students like any other students are making it big in business’ – Lecturer and mentor

Mthembu, standing, left, and two guest speakers, and some of the students during the second day of the event

The University continues its drive to promote the entrepreneurship  spirit among its students. On 6 to 7 October 2021, the University’s students that are involved in entrepreneurship were part of the two-day event at the University’s North Campus. The discussion about business was part of the national Student Entrepreneurship Week. Ntombifuthi Mthembu, the Co-ordinator of the campaign, said they wanted the students to consider entrepreneurship as an alternative to formal employment. “This event gave students an opportunity to show case their businesses in whatever form. This year they are showcasing entrepreneurship through storytelling, and evidence of their business activities. It was very inspiring to listen to our current and past students sharing their entrepreneurial journey and experiences with other students”, said Mthembu.

MUT student businesses were divided into three categories: ideation stage businesses; existing general businesses; and agri-business. There were 13 businesses founded and run by the students. Mthembu said this was an indication that “that the seed of Entrepreneurship has been planted at MUT. We have a responsibility of nurturing and assisting student entrepreneurs to have the courage of taking their businesses to the next level,” said Mthembu. Mthembu said they would like to see businesses that are currently in ideation stage progress to the next level. “Ideas must be turned into action. Our students are participating in various sectors of the economy,” she said. According to Mthembu, it was overwhelming to realise that the University has students who are playing a meaningful role in the agricultural sector, and their businesses have healthy turnovers. The Ithembalamazubane Business, owned by Zuzile Mthiya, a student from the Department of Human Resources and Management produces and sells white and brown sugar beans. The business makes a good turnover per annum. Musa Mkhize, also from the Department of Human Resources and Management, farms on sugarcane and bananas. Mkhize’s business also makes a good turnover per year. Mkhize is one of the suppliers of Umfolozi Sugar Mill.

Nompilo Vilakazi, an Engineering student grows chickens and supplies one of the big retailers in KZN. “The students we are talking about have classes to attend and tests to sit for, but are still able to do such amazing things. All the presenters had amazing stories to tell,” said Mthembu

The University alumni also got a chance to talk about their businesses. Sabelo Madiba talked about his business called Blackhorse Group; Ntuthuko Khathi told a story about Khathi Charcoal; while Simphiwe Goniwe and Sanele Shandu talked about their business called Isiqalo Institute in Academics. All speakers advised students to learn to do something for themselves. They told the students to be brave and “not hesitate to take calculated risks, and be resilient.”

On the second day, speakers conducted interactive workshops to the students. Kwazi Bhengu from Sibani Consulting shared with the students the importance of personal entrepreneurship competencies and their behavioural indicators. Ndumiso Ncala, an Information Officer from SEDA, outlined SEDA’s mandate in implementing the government’s small business strategy. Ncala unpacked business sectors supported by SEDA, and the role played by SEFA in assisting small businesses in securing finances. Ncala encouraged students to keep abreast of the opportunities advertised by SEDA, and seek assistance in applying for them.