Master’s Biotechnology student Sibongile Mdlaka, with her business idea of KZN Beverage, from the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology, and DUT alumni Njabulo Maseko of Turn-up Holdings, have made a huge entrepreneurial impact at the National Entrepreneurship Intervarsity Competition.
The competition was held at the Southern Sun Hotel, O R Tambo International Airport from Saturday, 28 to Sunday, 29 September 2019.
The purpose of this competition was to identify the top student entrepreneurs at each University, showcase their businesses and invite investment into this cohort of start-ups.
Universities also had the opportunity to demonstrate their entrepreneurial talent and the ways in which they support and grow the next generation of business leaders.
Mdlaka was one of seven finalists in the Innovative Business Ideas category for her innovative Vibra energy drink; and the University-supported innovator and entrepreneur, Maseko of Turnup Holdings, was one of seven finalists in the Existing Tech Business category.
For Mdlaka, she was greatly honoured to have been able to share the platform with other entrepreneurs. “I am very excited that I have this far been able to represent my beloved Institution and province. I have learnt a lot through the stages of the competition, and I have met with interesting people. Next year, I am hoping to enter the competition again but on a different category, as I need to start selling my Vibra energy drink so I would qualify for the Existing business with social impact,” she said.
She also added that she is happy that DUT has introduced student entrepreneurship. “I am very fortunate and humbled to be in their (DUT’s Student Entreprenuership) programme. I believe that this will help us as a nation to reduce the unemployment rate and boost our economy,” she said.
Speaking of his experience, Maseko said he felt great to have been part of the finalists. “The University was given an award for supporting my business because the award that DUT’s Professor Sibusiso Moyo received was based on the fact that when I presented I said that I had received a big order from the University,” he said.
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.
Also, in terms of his business, Maseko added that his team had recently finished electricity and battery powered TVs which forms part of a new development from the company.
“My speaker business at DUT will be used as a case study for the 2020 entrepreneurship competition for other universities to evaluate and learn from,” he said excitedly.
Speaking more on the competition was Dr Norah Clarke, Director of Entrepreneurship, from Universities South Africa (USAf).
She thanked the Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Thandwa Mthembu, on behalf of USAf and the Department Higher Education and Training, congratulating Prof Mthembu and DUT on the worthy performances of the two entrepreneurs who represented DUT as finalists in the national Entrepreneurship Intervarsity.
“In addition, we congratulate DUT on receiving a special EDHE award to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for facilitating remarkable institutional support for entrepreneurship development in terms of student entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship in academia and in growing an entrepreneurial University,” she said. Dr Clarke added that this trophy was awarded to Professor Sibusiso Moyo, a worthy role model to DVCs nationally. “We thank you as Prof Mthembu as the Vice-Chancellor for supporting her to facilitate high-impact change,” she said.
Dr Clarke also stressed that Njabulo Maseko of Turnup Holdings will grow from strength to strength, with the remarkable support the University continues to provide him with. “Our Project Manager: Entrepreneurship, Zana Boshoff, will be in touch with Prof Moyo and Maseko to request the case of Turnup Holdings to be presented at the EDHE Lekgotla 2020, as an example of best practice of a University supported approach to growing a student business,” she said.
She further added that although approximately 62% of University graduates and 58% of enrolled University students are women, only six out of the 27 (22%) finalists in the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity were women. “Student women have to overcome a number of additional barriers to starting and running a business, relevant research of which is urgently required. We humbly and respectfully request that your institution specifically looks into approaches/interventions that might encourage and equip student women to start and grow businesses with the support of the University, of whom Mdlaka might be prioritised,” she said.
Dr Clarke also thanked Prof Mthembu for his leadership and the DUT staff who had supported their finalists in their quest.
“We believe that DUT will continue to equip studentpreneurs and young business leaders of the future for their challenging task. Mdlaka and Maseko are worthy role models to fellow students and ambassadors for DUT,” she said.
Pictured: Siyabonga Ndwalane and Sibongile Mdlaka.