With spinach shoots pushing through the ground and paper butterflies decorating the walkways of Makupula Secondary School in Stellenbosch, the Kayamandi Vegetable Store Garden was launched on 24 November.
The Kayamandi Vegetable Store Garden (K.V. Store) is an outcome of the Young Entrepreneurship Project (YEP), a joint initiative by Stellenbosch University (SU) and the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in the Netherlands. Working in teams, students developed course material for an entrepreneurship workshop aimed at high school learners from local schools. At the workshop, held in July, start-up ideas and business plans were developed and the best four ideas won start-up capital of R4000 per group to make their plans a reality.
According to Mr Adolph Neethling, YEP programme coordinator and lecturer in the Department of Business Management at SU, three of the winning business plans came from Makupula Secondary.
K.V. Store was one of the winning groups. Their business plan stated that they are concerned about their community's health and that they wanted to plant vegetables at school, selling the fresh garden produce at low prices to Kayamandi residents to improve the health of and empower the people of the community.
“However, the challenge with some of these community initiatives is that the community beneficiary often struggles to implement the plans generated with the support of the university partner," observed Mr Neethling.
Ansonette Esterhuizen, a second-year BCom Management Sciences student who helped the K.V. Store team develop their idea, decided to continue mentoring the team.
Besides the prize money sponsored by businesses from the Netherlands, Ansonette obtained sponsorship for most of the implements needed to start the drip-irrigated vegetable garden.
“After the workshop, I realised that the students will need guidance to implement their concept and I decided to help them achieve this goal through mentorship, planning and finding sponsors. I was fortunate enough to find three sponsors who sponsored most of the gardening equipment and tools, including a drip irrigation system and new gutters for the school (Intelichem), a 5 000 Litre JoJo Tank (4evr Plastics) and shade to surround the garden with (Delta4 Financial Services)."
Sponsors and supporters attended the official launch of the garden over the weekend.
At the event Mr Paul Jaspers from the HU Business School Utrecht encouraged the students to use innovative entrepreneurship to break the poverty chain and to be the change the world needs.
Mrs Bulisa Dyushu-Gophe, teacher coordinator at Makupula Secondary School, also encouraged the learners to make use of every opportunity that could improve their future.
“When I heard the learners' presentations (after the course), I was so inspired," she said. Although the learners come from a community struggling with unemployment, poverty and a high crime rate, this garden gives hope, she added, thanking everyone involved.
“This isn't just a project for us," she said. “It is a great thing."
A group of 15 girls are involved with the K.V. Store. According to one of the learners, Tapelo Mashiyi, they are very proud of what they have achieved.