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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Midlands, hosted a two-day virtual Industry-Specific Training event for all student entrepreneurs interested in agriculture on the 21st and 22nd of July 2021. The training was part of a four-week programme with a series of industry-focused training for student entrepreneurs in various sectors of business such as beauty, events, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), manufacturing and digital marketing.

The aim of the training was to upskill the entrepreneurs by providing them with relevant information they needed to know in order to run their businesses and expose them to already operating and successful student businesses so that they can soak up information and advice. Moreover, it was to create useful connections and networks between the entrepreneurs so that they can collaborate and assist each other in upscaling their businesses.

Mrs Nosipho Majola, the Centre Operations Manager commended the students for their willingness to participate in such informative training that will help them grow their businesses. She further explained that such programmes are created to provide all the support the students needed to successfully operate their establishments.

“With COVID-19 and civil unrests happening in our country, our economy is going to suffer alot and this will have a huge impact on businesses, especially small businesses. We want to hear from you, what can we do to help you move into the next level and grow your businesses. We want to provide an open platform where you can share with us some of the challenges you are facing,” said Majola.

Majola went on to say that there will be more training of this kind so that students do not operate in isolation but collaborate and help each other grow. She further relayed that entrepreneurs used this platform to share some of the challenges they are facing in their business and others shared hindrances that prevented them from starting their agricultural businesses.

Samkelo Thabede, a Finance student at DUT shared that she wishes to start an agricultural business focusing on crop production but due to water scarcity she has not been able to do so.

“I live in Mtubatuba and we have a big problem with access to water, we have to walk long distances or hire a car to get water. I would like to find new ways to get water cost-effectively. I would also like to figure out the right crops I can plant in my area as we have a large land but it is dry,” said Thabede.

The Centre’s business support team advised her on possible solutions for these issues, which included soil testing to determine the suitable crops for the soil. They also suggested that Thabede install an irrigation system from the nearby river to assist with the water issue.

Attending the training was Thabiso Francis from Howick who is the founder of TK’s Agro Farm and has been operating for four years. His business is a mix of poultry and crop production. Francis expressed his gratitude to the Centre for hosting such a training platform, explaining that it helps them as entrepreneurs to promote their businesses, share ideas, network and help each other grow.

“Our company sells seedlings, broilers and we also do hatchery under poultry, furthermore, we plant and sell crops. I would like to use this opportunity to share my business knowledge with fellow entrepreneurs in agriculture so we can collaborate,” added Francis.

Day two of the programme was attended by the founder of K’saselihle fresh farm and DUT Alumna, Mbali Bengu. Bengu advised students on how they can succeed in the agricultural sector, covering topics such as crop production, market identification and bulk supply.

Other students joined in on the conversation sharing information and advising on possible solutions to help mitigate challenges faced by other entrepreneurs in their businesses.

Pictured: Participants of the training.

Nontethelelo Mzizi

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