The Durban University of Technology (DUT) strives itself on improving the life chances and aspirations of student entrepreneurs and helping them to reach their maximum potential.
Two budding entrepreneurs, Sibongile Mdlaka and Siyabonga Innocent Ndwalane are on their way to the International Cairo Exhibition of Innovation, an annual innovation market, taking place from 8 to 9 November 2018, in Egypt.
The exhibition creates chances for young people to present their innovative products or projects, share their success stories and achievement with professional visitors and meet and exchange experiences with professionals of the same interest.
The two-day event also includes sessions, workshops, competitions, panels, and inspiring stories of rising talents. Also, participants will get certificates and scientific and economic evaluation for their innovations through professional juries.
For DUT’s Master’s Biotechnology student Mdlaka, this is an opportunity of a life-time made possible by the funding given by DUT’s Research Department under the helm of Professor Sibusiso Moyo. “I am so excited to exhibit my product, an energy drink called Vibra energy drink. I will be also presenting the idea of commercialising my masters research project. The project is based on utilising agricultural wastes to produce bio-ethanol as an alternative renewable fuel in our country. The idea came based on the facts that fuel and energy is increasing everyday which contributes to high costs of living,” she said.
The best part of her energy drink is that it has health benefits. “Vibra energy drink does not only have low sugar levels, but the form of sugar used as the ingredient is of great advantage as it is a monohydrate form of sugar. These sugars are not easily hydrolysed by our bodies especially for people with diabetics,” she added.
She stressed that she and her partner in business, Wandisa Thusi, understood the need of obtaining an energy health drink and believe that Vibra does not harm those who drink it because for any energy drink one needs to be active to utilise the sugars to prevent them being converted to fats.
“Our goal is to decrease the rate of obesity and obesity related diseases with a low sugar energy drink containing vital vitamins required by your body for energy, and to promote healthy living lifestyles. We have a registered a company called KwaZulu Beverages; so we are looking at producing many variety of drinks such as sports drinks, cool drinks, juices, still water, to name but a few,” she said.
By going to Egypt, she hopes to network with possible distributors and showcase her unique South African brand to business goers, in the hope of making her brand well-known locally and internationally.
Creating a ‘musical noise’ with his innovative, portable Bluetooth speakers called Turn-Up, is DUT’s alumni, Siyabonga Innocent Ndwalane.
The Turn-Up Electronics, founded by Ndwalane, is a youth owned Bluetooth speaker and sound bar manufacturing company. His speakers have Aux, FM Radio, USB Port, Bluetooth connectivity and are perfect for outdoor gym sessions and as a home sound device. They use recycled PVC pipes from construction sites, in their small little way, decreasing the 15% waste created with construction material.
“I am very excited to go to Egypt and network with new players in the technology space. I am looking for distribution partners and to showcase that local inventors like me are capable of competing with their international counterparts. I am also looking forward to checking out the electronic goods at the stop-over at the Dubai airport, so that I get an understanding of what products I need to focus on for exporting, for the future,” he said.
Ndwalane is no stranger to travelling and showcasing his local brand, having been to Namibia, Botswana, Japan and now Egypt and Finland in December 2018. He has also signed a MoU with DUT which started last year and wants to be able to encourage DUT students to pursue their dreams and not give up. He was also given the Innovator of the year Award in 2017. His Turn-Up team is made up of five people and he hopes to expand as the demand for more of his speakers increases. Besides producing speakers, he has now embarked on making head phones and mikes.
Ndwalane is also hoping to make his mark internationally and believes his brand is going to create waves in the electronic market.
Pictured: Siyabonga Ndwalane, with one of his portable Turn UP blue-tooth speakers and Sibongile Mdlaka.