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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Enactus team are in the semi-finals of the Enactus South Africa Special Competition, sponsored by Harmony Gold.

Special competitions are competitions held before the national competition, its purpose is to get teams to start projects tackling different global issues. Enactus teams are challenged to intervene and assist their communities to take advantage of these opportunities. The same judging criterion that will be utilised to judge the projects of teams at the Enactus National Competition apply to these projects.

DUT has advanced to the second (semi-final) stage of the competition. Enactus South Africa competitions provide an opportunity for collaboration and best-practice sharing, further strengthening the value of the learning experience and the overall effectiveness of the programme. The team moved to the second stage of the special competition, having presented their impact report on the 2020 theme: Harmony Local Economic Development Challenge – addressing poverty alleviation and job creation in local communities around the country through entrepreneurship.

The DUT team has over 100 members in total, for this challenge, and the team presented one of its flagship projects, Finiks Solutions. Finiks Solutions is a project-based in the ML Sultan Campus where team members identified that soap in hotels are hardly used until it is exhausted. Having observed this trend, the team decided to initiate a project that would recycle the guest used soap into toilet disinfectant. The project also produces dishwashing liquid and multipurpose cleaner which is not made from the recycled soap. All the products from this project are sold under the brand name Finiks.

Speaking on her excitement on learning that the DUT Enactus team had made it through to the semi-finals, Thandolwethu Ngcobo, Finiks Solutions Project Manager said they are happy that all the hard work put in the organisation is finally paying off. “It is nice to be recognised for the good you do for our communities, but most importantly, seeing the positive change you have brought in someone else’ life is priceless,” she said.

Giving more insight into the team, DUT’s Enactus team president Mthunzi Mapatwana, said, “We started a school initiative where the AgriBusiness project focuses on nutrition and Finiks Solutions focuses on hygiene. Coincidentally, the proposal to the schools coincided with the coronavirus pandemic which highlighted hygiene as a very serious issue that needs urgent attention. The teams have started with sanitisation drives across different schools in Northern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) where the importance of hygiene is taught to the learners and our cleaning detergents are sold to the schools at an affordable price.” He further added that this is done to ensure that the schools are able to afford hygiene products, and the team is currently working on a new product line, a hand wash, which will be rolled out to market soon.

DUT’s Obed Freedom Chauke, a lecturer at the Department of Public Relations Management, indicated that it is vital for DUT students to be part of such competitions, saying that there is a misconception amongst South Africans that Universities of Technology have an inferior quality to traditional universities. “Our main aim is to show the whole country that we are capable, we can compete with traditional universities in tackling global issues with our ingenuities and we are able to win against them as well. But most importantly, we want to inspire our university students to come up with solutions for issues that are halting the development of our communities, and use the power of entrepreneurship to tackle such challenges,” he said. Chauke further added that DUT also wanted to show the country that it is not just a university that promotes entrepreneurship, but it’s a university that shows students how to be entrepreneurs who use their ingenuity to support progress in communities.

Mapatwana said that with COVID-19, it has been difficult operating in the online space as most of the DUT students also come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Through the hard work of our Finiks Solutions project manager Thandolwethu Ngcobo, preparations have been made, and we will be starting next week with the preparations for the semi-finals,” he said.

He further said that through this competition the DUT Enactus team aims to promote hygiene to different communities in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and reduce the number of hygiene-related infections, especially in schools. “We are also seeking the attention of the local community to support us as we also have an aim to bridge/decrease the economic gap that exists between the different classes, especially women and youth. This will be done by bringing skills to them and job creation, through the production and sale of the Finiks Solution,” said Mapatwana.

Pictured: The DUT Enactus team

Waheeda Peters

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