One of the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) mission is to excel through external engagement that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship through collaboration and partnership.
Ensuring students understand the culture of building entrepreneurship, DUT has been instrumental in helping and guiding young and emerging entrepreneurs through the office of the DVC RIE Entrepreneurial Centre and Desk at the ML Sultan Campus.
The DUT Communications team spoke to the charismatic Nonhlanhla Khanyile, who heads up the Entrepreneurial Centre and Desk, to find out more on how students benefit from such a key centre.
Giving more information on the operations of the DVC RIE Entrepreneurial Centre and Desk at the ML Sultan Campus, Khanyile said the Entrepreneurial Centre and Desk Office has been set up to foster entrepreneurial activities in the University. “It provides a platform for start-ups and prospective entrepreneurs to convert their ideas into commercially viable products and services. Our objective is to assist and develop these DUT registered students to becoming entrepreneurs,” she said.
As the Centre Manager, she is responsible for operations, management, client management, business incubation facilitation and processes.
She also supervises the design business processes and systems, develop skills development programmes and oversee implementation of business support and business mentorship tools and models to empower aspiring entrepreneurs at DUT Durban campuses.
Speaking about the calibre of students that have come through with their innovations, Khanyile said that mostly they have been approached by graduates who are seeking to grow their businesses so the Centre offers them post mentorship, which is an aftercare growth programme.
“Our database currently comprises of students from different faculties and fields of study such as first, second and third years that have joined into our entrepreneurship programme. Most students approach our office with no understanding on how to operate a business and special programmes have been designed to approach them from a Walk-in student, to pre-incubation stage, then qualifying the into incubation programme which involves technical, prototype, market trials, business trainings before graduating them to becoming SMMEs,” she added.
Talking about the future objectives for the Centre, Khanyile said that they as a centre see themselves as a leading entrepreneurial hub in the University that provides the best business principles, ethics and business model to sustain growth of the entrepreneurs. “Providing student entrepreneurs with innovative programmes to empower them to create economic and social value in the region and beyond,” she said.
Some of their achievements include:
- 20 Student entrepreneurs operating at small scale, have been set up by the Centre.
- 15 Student entrepreneurs are finalising their prototypes and doing market and product trials
- 25 student entrepreneurs are on pre-incubation stage, receiving accelerator business training and business simulation games as enhancements to the entrepreneurial competencies before and after training and competition using business.
- Eight Student entrepreneurs are receiving post mentorship and aftercare support.
As the manager of such a vital component at DUT, Khanyile reiterated that more still needs to be done in terms of targeting entrepreneurship students, such as awareness campaigns, campus to campus activations, aggressive marketing, as well as to provide relevant infrastructure (technology stations, resources to support incubation).
The Centre has Business Training Skills, Network Opportunities, Global Business Boot Camp trainings, National and International Market Opportunities and Enterprise and Supplier Developmental Programmes. Also on the cards are Incubation facilities which is still to be launched at the Ritson Campus.
Also, to date there are many star students that were helped by the Centre which comprise of:
- Wi-Solve (Pty) Ltd; Software developments;
- Turn Up Speakers; Innovative products, Appliances
- K Chelsea (Pty) Ltd; Lipstick remover products
- Get 2 Natural (Pty) Ltd: Organic hair products
- Takkies Wash SA (Pty) Ltd: Sneakers, leather products wash hub;
- Hydro Power Solutions (Pty) Ltd: Renewable Energy Solution;
- KZN Beverages (Pty) Ltd: Energy Drink;
- Dorcas Paints (Pty) Ltd: Paint manufacturers;
- Level Innovations (Pty) Ltd: Ring and Band access control products;
- DBN Weeking (Pty) Ltd: Clothing Brand;
- Dapper (Pty) Ltd: Branded Clothing;
- 17 Harmonics (Pty) Ltd: Provides Audio Visual Aids equipment and services;
- InventClick Media (Pty) Ltd: Media, Video, Communication services;
- And Fly Free Pest Control (Pty) Ltd: Fumigation.
To find out more on what help is available at such a key centre, contact 031 373 2523 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured: DUT budding entrepreneurs Phumelele Khumalo and Nosihle Dlamini, who are the proud beauty gurus of Get 2 Natural Organic hair products.