Youth and graduate unemployment means that universities across South Africa are placing greater focus on student entrepreneurship.
This year, UCT Careers Service (CS) has once again partnered with the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE), Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking (d-school), Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as Research & Innovation to host a series of events that encourage entrepreneurship as a mindset and career option among students.
Student Entrepreneurship Week (SEW) runs from 16-20 September and consists of lunchtime speaker series’; a networking session, marketplace and design-thinking boot camp.
The speaker series engages students on how to launch their business concept beyond ideation. Social Impact Day shows them various ways to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural and environmental challenges. Students also gain exposure to entrepreneurs who are innovators in sectors such as tech, environmental rights as well as youth and community evolution.
At the one-day Marketplace, UCT “studentpreneurs” showcase their products and services while being supported by fellow students and staff.
Hishamodien Hoosain, Acting Head of Employer Relations at the CS, says there has been an increase in student attendance at these events year-on-year since SEW first started three years ago.
“UCT Careers Service sees this programme as an important aspect of an entrepreneur's development. These initiatives provide skills; resources for students to create their own employment; as well as an opportunity to grow the South African economy,” he says.
Nadia Waggie, Head of Operations at the CS and National EDHE Co-Convenor for SEW, says she remains optimistic that the entrepreneurship agenda at UCT will grow from strength to strength.
“I am pleased that the entrepreneurship agenda has the support of the university. We need to continually expand our students’ entrepreneurial minds so that we can grow the South African economy,” she says.
Bronwyn April, former Career Development Advisor at the CS, says students could face a ‘portfolio’ career consisting of paid employment, non-work and self-employment throughout the course of their working lives.
“The latter implies greater scope for entrepreneurial activity. Given the current unemployment rate in South Africa, it is more important than ever for youth to engage in entrepreneurial activities to create their own opportunities to not only earn an income, but to use their innovative and creative entrepreneurial mindset to address social challenges, while developing themselves and their communities,” she says.
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