Looking at innovative ways to give back to the rural communities is the aim of Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Luleka Mkuzo, who is passionate about social transformation.
The bubbly Mkuzo is currently working towards her qualification of Doctor of Philosophy Management Sciences, in the department of Entrepreneurial Studies and Management.
“I am part of a research team in the area of community engagement with my supervisor Dr Ivan Govender. I am very passionate about engagement and working with rural communities, trying to find initiatives that can drive social transformation. I deeply believe that engaging those affected by the challenges is the only way to develop solutions that can be sustainable and effective,” she said.
Mkuzo is also the founder of her company called Urglobal which stands for Ubuntu Renaissance Global. “We cannot work alone to change anything that will be sustainable and bring real transformation, we need to work together. Urglobal stands for equal access, it stands for acknowledging people who are in rural communities and have unique value, characteristics and skills which can be harnessed to contribute on a global stage,” she stressed.
Mkuzo is very passionate about driving programmes of equipping and empowering communities with digital and entrepreneurship skills because she knows how difficult it is for the community to gain opportunities to upgrade their skills.
“Growing up in a rural community I have witnessed how the lack of ICT infrastructure creates unequal access to opportunities for those coming from rural communities. Students struggle to adapt when they get to universities because they have not been exposed to computers. There are many opportunities that are online if people are equipped and empowered with digital skills they can tap into some of these opportunities connect with the global world outside rural communities, get mentorships, coaching and even find collaboration partners,” she added.
She believes that there is a dire need for the transfer of skills, especially in rural areas and equipping them with skills they can use to compete for opportunities. “We want them (rural youth) to be empowered, and to also contribute and add real value to national building. When we change a community we contribute to the betterment of our country and world,” she said.
Mkuzo believes that being in the fourth industrial revolution, a lot needs to be done to bridge the gap in terms of technology, amongst the youth.
“I run a mobile computer class initiative where I teach rural students and community members about computers and the opportunities found online. If we expect innovation and contribution from the youth we need to ensure they are connected and at the forefront of current global activities and challenges so they can build and innovate accordingly,” she said.
As a DUT student, she believes that the University plays a major role in nurturing young entrepreneurs, like herself.
“DUT has various platforms such as the partnership with Invotech where entrepreneurs can be mentored and coached. This is all support that adds value to a new entrepreneur,” she said.
Mkoza’s future goals is to build a skills centre with a digital hub. “My future goal is to see our centre built and operating, equipping and empowering rural people from various communities. We would also like to see various centres that are able to equip rural people with skills they can use to cast and design their own destinies,” said Mkuzo.
Mkuzo’s advice to budding DUT student entrepreneurs wishing to follow in her footsteps is to do their research, speak to people, ask for help where it is needed as there are many people who are willing to help.
Pictured: Luleka Mkuzo