UKZN students triumph as SA’s top business leaders

2009-07-09 00:00

THREE-time winners, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), has successfully defended its 2008 title by being crowned champions of the Students in Free Enterprise (Sife) SA National Competition this year.

This means they are gearing up for Germany in October, where they will compete against teams from 46 countries.

Sife is an international organisation that mobilises university students to make a difference in their communities, while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.

The UKZN team outshone teams from 25 universities around the country in the competition held in Johannesburg recently.

An excited Mandla Ndaba, who is UKZN’s student leadership development practitioner and Sife faculty adviser, said Sife works like a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

“How it works is, students go out and identify aspiring entrepreneurs or people already trying to do something, but perhaps are struggling. Based on the seven pillars provided by Sife, the students help come up with viable business projects. We do research on those who are struggling and based on our findings, we offer financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills.”

He said Sife is attached to academi­c and financial institutions and does referrals where necessary.

His team of 96 members was involved with 22 projects this year, which included helping a group of prisoners open a clothing line, and assisting 47 matriculants in creating a small business in growing vegetables using tunnel farming.

They also contributed to the registering of a recycling company in which four matriculants were involved. In completing these projects, Sife managed to visit 31 schools throughout the province.

Ndaba said one of the downsides of such undertakings is that they have to rely on sponsorship.

While eight people are needed to present in Berlin, Sife can only pay for five. His wish is to take a total of 16 members so they have reserves.

One of the group members who will be going to Berlin, Mandisa Dlamini, believes competing internationally offers a platform to improve the image of South Africa.

“For me, it is a chance to show the rest of the world that we have young productive people who are not about wasting their lives.”

Dlamini says the experience is life changing: “… words can’t begin to explain the feeling of how my efforts as a mere student can have such an impact, not just for now, but for sustainable change … That makes it worth it.”

 

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