The increasing unemployment rate in South Africa demands universities to inspire the present generation of scholars to embrace entrepreneurship as a catalyst for economic development and job creation.
Three universities in the central region have made this their task: the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT), University of the Free State (UFS) and the Sol Plaatje University (SPU) in Kimberley, Northern Cape.
In pursuit of this idea, students aspiring to venture in this field were offered an opportunity to showcase their innovations by pitching ideas in the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education Competition.
The regional final of this intervarsity competition, with ten candidates participating, was held at the CUT campus in Bloemfontein on 8 August.
It will culminate with the national final on 18 September in Gauteng, to determine the category winners who will receive financial incentives to invest in their business.
According to Dan Maritz, CUT spokesperson, the competition is important for inspiring the present generation to think beyond SA’s current economic state which has turned millions of people into job-seekers.
According to Maritz, the entrepreneurship competition will have far-reaching impact unlocking potential entrepreneurship in line with of the third industrial revolution.
“It aims at identifying and supporting student entrepreneurs who have been able to establish their businesses, along with those who have innovative ideas that they would like to pursue while studying,” said Maritz.
Prof. Alfred Ngowi, deputy vice-chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement of the CUT, said that entrepreneurship and innovation are the only things that will not be affected by machines in the 21st century.
“We have realised that despite the abilities of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation must be at the core of what students should learn.
“Most of the work that is being done today will be taken over by machines in the coming years and we need to be prepared,” said Ngowi.
Contestants pitched their business ideas in five minutes to a panel of judges in four categories: innovative ideas, tech business, social impact and general.
The four contestants who made it to the national final are Grace Mthembu and Christopher Rothmann from the UFS (electricity system and Liquid Culture companies), Theron Sithibe from the SPU (Lola Foodz) and Sibulele Tyala from the CUT (THC Sportswear).
Incentives on offer were: R10 000 for innovative ideas, R10 000 for tech business, R10 000 for social impact and R10 000 for general.
The overall Studentpreneur for 2019 will receive a grand prize of R50 000.