Young entrepreneurs from the Stellenbosch area once again had the opportunity to hone their entrepreneurial and business skills at the second Young Entrepreneurship Project (YEP) programme held at Stellenbosch University (SU) last week.
And based on the judges' reaction, there seems to be a lot of potential among the local young business minds. When announcing the winners at the end of the programme, the judges expressed how difficult it had been to choose a winning team out of so many brilliant ideas from the learners. “We found that many of the ideas and concepts were very good from all five teams. The learners' ideas were innovative and relevant to the context of their communities where the businesses are to be implemented, so it was no easy task," said one of the judges, Renee Hector-Kannemeyer, Deputy Director of Social Impact and Head of Matie Community Service at SU. Marlie Goussard, Enterprise Development Manager at Ranyaka and co-announcer of the winners, concurred.
(The judging panel above.)
YEP is a joint initiative by SU, the Hoogeschool Utrecht (HU) University of Applied Sciences Utrecht in the Netherlands and Michigan State University, which helps foster entrepreneurial and business skills in young learners from schools in the surrounding Stellenbosch community. Working in teams, students developed course material for an entrepreneurship workshop aimed specifically at these high school learners. It is the second year that this programme was offered.
Students from HU University and the SU Department of Business Management presented the course to learners from Kayamandi High school, Makapula High and Lückhoff High School.
The workshop kicked off with an idea generation process, which culminated in a presentation before a panel of judges on Friday, 5 July. Five teams of learners from the three schools presented various innovative business ideas to the panel who judged their presentations according to a vast criteria ranging from the mission and values of their business ideas, to implementation and long-term sustainability.
Besides Hector-Kannemeyer and Goussard, the panel of judges also included Sarina Nooitgedacht (Intern at the Dutch Consulate's Economic Department from the University of Amsterdam), Nichola Walker-Woodard (Deputy Consul-General at the Dutch Consulate) and Bianca Leonhardt (Marketing Manager at Backsberg Estate Cellars).
The winning idea, called Siblam Bracelets, came from Lückhoff High School. They came up with the innovative idea of recycling plastic and other waste and turning it into bracelets, which would be used to store information of those wearing it, especially young children, to help track them if they were lost or became separated from their loved ones.
(The winning team from Lückhoff High School.)
According to Mr Aubrey Adonis, a Business Studies teacher at Lückhoff High School, he feels incredibly proud of his learners for getting this far and ultimately winning first prize for their business idea. Adonis had a lucrative career in the business sector and made the career change to high school teacher two years ago, because he wanted to give back to the community where he grew up in. “This makes me feel so proud, especially as a new teacher. This is why I changed my career from being an accountant and becoming a teacher. I'm really happy with the team from our school and I'm looking forward to coming back next year to the YEP programme. This programme has helped boost the self-confidence of our learners and even motivated them to study harder and wanting to study at Stellenbosch University in future, so I'm really excited to help them achieve those goals," said Adonis.
The winning team will receive seed funding from local sponsors in Stellenbosch as well as mentorship by Business Management students to assist learners to implement the ideas generated.
Both Mr Adolph Neethling, YEP programme coordinator and lecturer in the Department of Business Management at SU, and Mr Paul Jaspers from HU University expressed their excitement at the positive outcome that the programme has had on learners.
“From the presentations it was evident that the YEP programme enhanced the confidence of the students and in addition their capability of opportunity identification as well as their ability to develop a business plan around a social problem," Neethling concluded.
For more information on the YEP programme visit, https://yep.works/.
Photos by Hennie Rudman.