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A TRIUMPH FOR KWAZULU-NATAL AND HOPE FOR SOUTH AFRICA: Students show the way to sustainable posterity

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) will represent South Africa on the world stage later this year, where they will be competing with 34 countries for the Enactus World Champion title.

Bound by the theme of ‘Passion on Purpose’, UKZN were placed first last week among the twelve teams in the semi-finals of the 2021 Enactus South Africa National Competition. This is a showcase to practically demonstrate the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world.

Defending their 2020 title, UKZN presented their ‘Ubuntu Social Enterprise’ project – responding to the triple challenges articulated in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The project is designed to develop sustainable cooperative businesses in communities. The team divided their project to stand on three pillars, namely agricultural education, farming practices and business development. More specifically, their work is an agri-business solution focused on achieving inclusive and sustainable local economic growth through cultivating and accelerating small scale and cooperative farming businesses.

By sharing knowledge with cooperatives and small-scale farmers, the team methodically acts as a catalyst to efficient agriculture in this community. Mentorship and support include education on vertical farming (sack farming), worm farming and drone technology. The project has already generated a total revenue (for the community entrepreneurs served) of ZAR512 369, with new farming methods having a measured positive impact on the environment – saving 60% of water and producing yields up to 5 times the generally accepted norm.

The strength of the outcomes and impact that Enactus achieves is reasonably assured in part through significant support from among South Africa’s leading businesses. Indeed, without corporate support, there would simply not be the funding to enable the hosting of this competition nor offering the programme at 25 universities that are currently participants. The anchor sponsor for this year’s competition was Harmony Gold Mining Limited with significant additional support from MTN, AIG, Nedbank, AVI, CHEP and Rich Products Corporation Africa.

The final round of competition placed the University of Venda as 3rd runner-up, Central University of Technology as 2nd runner-up and Durban University of Technology as 1st runner-up. While Enactus is about entrepreneurial action that creates a better world for all, the relevance and impact of this programme goes way beyond any competition. The constructive competitive spirit continuously raises the bar on excellence in the students’ projects. As in business, Enactus believes that competition enables creativity, bringing a positive energy and impact for people, planet and prosperity to life.

The “NextGen” leaders emerging through Enactus are passionate about agriculture, plant-based food, recycling, circular economies, and more. They focus on bringing greater economic inclusion to their communities, while they establish their own position as ethical and responsible leaders to meaningfully contribute to the economy and society.

This year, Enactus South Africa celebrates two decades of shaping generations of entrepreneurial leaders, passionate about advancing the economic, social and environmental health of the country.

Chief Executive Officer and Country Director for Enactus South Africa, Letitia de Wet, says “Our country is in dire need of entrepreneurs and ethical business leaders. We at Enactus imagine a South Africa that sees the SME sector booming, that sees entrepreneurship as a viable, exciting and selected career path, and not a desperate alternative to unemployment or wage-replacement. We are committed to contribute to that.” She also added that Enactus South Africa is guided, especially in light of the emerging economic scenario associated with the current pandemic by scenario planning to understand the potential financial and programmatic risk, and most of all, the creation of stability and growth for Enactus. The organization did a lot of work to see how best we can commercialize our work and scale our projects to increase our impact and create more jobs. “As you all know, there is no better source for hope and motivation amid these uncertain times, than our Enactus students and their work.”

According to Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, Enactus South Africa Board Chair and General Manager at MTN SA Foundation “This year is a true milestone for Enactus South Africa as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. Over the last 20 years Enactus students have positively impacted well over 150,000 members of our communities and volunteered well in excess of 3m hours-which put another way is over 1,500 work years of time. This kind of impact and longevity is only possible through the tireless work, dedication and support of everyone, including our students, who make Enactus the wonderful organization that it is – and for that my sincere thank you”.

In addition to the competition, Enactus also hosted a Development League, while the Harmony Local Economic Development (LED) Special Competition was also adjudicated. The event also offered multiple engagement sessions. The students were invited to participate in Virtual Career Fairs hosted by sponsor companies Harmony, KPMG, CHEP and Nedbank. Enactus also had Faculty Advisor and Alumni Engagement Sessions with powerful thought leaders sharing stories of impact, talents and connecting to the intention of the cause and our passion.

The week-long competition programme included two powerful Leader Forums: The Leaders Corner was hosted by Vusi Thembekwayo who addressed “Moments Choose Leaders”, while the MTN Action Leader Forum focused on “Building Your Business” where Pavlo Phitidis shared powerful insights of starting-up with the audience.

While Enactus students are making great impact in their communities, they’re making an even greater impact on themselves. Becoming values-driven leaders, ready to lead their own businesses, or becoming intrapreneurs within some of the world’s greatest companies. Enactus participants has a consistent story of hope, resilience and positivity to share – and at the end of the day, this is a win-win for all.

#EZANationals | #OwnYourFuture | #PassionOnPurpose

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