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The three-day Durban University of Technology (DUT) Student Business Festival (BSF) was a resounding success having had various academic and industry speakers to voice to DUT students on how to enhance their skills, pick up new business skills, get advice on the best business practices, and take the first step in controlling their lives and livelihoods and give them confidence to take on challenges of entrepreneurship. The idea of the SBF was a response to a challenge by the Vice-Chancellor and principal Professor Thandwa Mthethwa for the university to deliberately inculcate entrepreneurship amongst students.

Day Two had Industry giants like Mr Simphiwe Mehlomakulu, Founder and Chairman of Reatile Group, Mr Vusi Mahlangu, Managing Director of Tamela Capital Partners shared their insights into the business working world. On Day Three the focus was on Social Entrepreneurship, which was facilitated by Lungile Mkhize, Administrative Officer: Student Services Department as well as Aliziwe Mbambo, a Marketing Officer at the Research, Innovation and Engagement Department.

Day Three had guest speaker, Nomfundo Mbatha, a Finance and Information Management lecturer at DUT. Mbatha spoke about social injustices and how it affects the economy. In her presentation, Mbatha touched on examples of social injustices within South African communities and within the educational sector.

“Social injustice happens when we are not given proper access to resources like education and health. Therefore, I appreciate that there is the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) because there are students who would have never been able to better their lives through education, had NSFAS not been there. Students have a wealth of knowledge, and they have their own individual identities; it is that wealth of knowledge that will help the country to grow,” said Mbatha.

Diving deeper into business opportunities and the social entrepreneurship topic, Development Planning and Infrastructure was the executive at Dube TradePort, Owen Nhlonipho Mungwe. “One of the critical things that we do as an organisation is that we play a role of coordinating with different state-owned entities. We are currently constructing a new building which is called an Innovation Hub, where we would like to draw young business people to come and innovate in the space in the technological point of view. We have a development that is about 30 000 hectares, a parcel of land that is developable which is about 6900 hectares where we would be reducing the levels of unemployment, but most importantly creating new business opportunities for young people”, said Mungwe.

CEO and founder of a Johannesburg based Software company called Tipplo Software, Victor Chaitezvi, representing Standard Bank, shared his entrepreneurial journey. Chaitezvi’s says helping his mother to sell vegetables on the side of the road assisted him in learning deeper about the running of a business. Through academic excellence and other entrepreneurial engagements, he was granted a scholarship to study abroad in the United States of America before he could even finish his undergraduate studies. Moreover, he did one year of his Masters in Entrepreneurship and was then hired by Microsoft from the USA to come through and work in South Africa.

“It was through learning that I was able to start my business in partnership with Standard Bank. Tripplo is two years old business and in April we were named South Africa’s most innovative company by the Fast company. We now have over 600 businesses registered on our platform from seven different countries. I used to get laughed at when I was trying to sell some few things on the side, and it was really all for a purpose,” said Chaitezvi.

Chaitezvi concluded by encouraging students to be decisive about the amount of time and what they spend their time on. All in all, the Business Festival exposed DUT students to various aspects and criteria of what a business entails and gave students a better understanding as what the business world is all about.

Pictured: Owen Nhlonipho Mungwe

Nikiwe Sukazi

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