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Maties #Train4Fees campaign goes the distance #Train4Fees campaign goes the distanceDevelopment & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p>Stellenbosch University's #Train4Fees campaign, that aims to help student athletes who have lost financial backing due to the impact of COVID-19, is going into extra time. <br></p><p>Launched on 1 June 2020 by Maties Sport and the Development and Alumni Relations Division (DAR), the campaign, now has an end date of 31 August 2020 and a new fundraising target of R2 million. </p><p>To date R732,137 has been raised, the number of registered fundraisers stands at 102 and this will enable to give 23 students a financial lifeline thanks to funds raised by coaches, players, sport stars and ordinary Maties alike. </p><p>However, for Hans Scriba, Fundraising Manager, the finish line is not yet in sight. In fact, he is looking to double the funds already raised... All thanks to a generous donor who has committed to match all funds raised on a rand-for-rand basis. </p><p>"We currently have over 300 student athletes who have applied for financial assistance and we would ideally want to help all of them. COVID-19 is giving them a very tough time. These students are trying to pay the balance of their tuition fees, but lockdown, the virus and the economy are making things extremely difficult. And here at Stellenbosch University we're not going to drop our student-athletes after all the time and effort they've put in – and still do," says Scriba.</p><p>"We are grateful for the tremendous support that our athletes have received thusfar, and we urge others to take up the challenge. For the past two months, supporters have been running, cycling and walking to raise funds. Many of our loyal Maties Alumni have made significant contributions towards this campaign. We even have a 5-year-old who took on a 50km walk," says Karen Bruns, Senior Director of DAR.</p><p>So how can YOU get involved? </p><p>You can sponsor any of the fundraisers on the Maties GivenGain platform in your chosen sport - rugby, soccer, cricket, netball and hockey – or support other sporting codes on the Maties Sport Page - or you can sign up to become a fundraiser for #Train4Fees, by either running, cycling, skateboarding or power walking yourself … whatever fitness training you enjoy.</p><ul><li><strong>#Train4Fees on Maties Alumni</strong> website: <a href=""><strong></strong></a></li><li><strong>#Train4Fees on GivenGain</strong> website: <a href=""><strong></strong></a><br></li></ul><p><br></p>
'It’s not about leadership, but ownership,' says Rassie'It’s not about leadership, but ownership,' says RassieDevelopment & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p>Stellenbosch University's Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) has successfully launched the first in a series of conversations with national and international leaders, titled the Matie Crest Talks. <br></p><p>On Thursday, 23 July more than 1 600 alumni, donors and friends of the University, from as far afield as New Zealand, the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Europe, Asia, and of course South Africa joined the first Matie Crest Talk with Rassie Erasmus, former head coach of the triumphant 2019 World Cup-winning Springboks and current Director of Rugby at the South African Rugby Union (SARU), as speaker. The online conversation was facilitated by Alison April, herself a Matie and currently DAR's Alumni and Fundraising Director in Europe.</p><p>According to Karen Bruns, DAR's Senior Director, the aim of these leadership talks is to provide platform for various speakers to inspire, strengthen, guide and intrigue current and future leaders.  </p><p>Erasmus' conversation centred around how to negotiate the journey from crisis to success, with him returning from Ireland in November 2017 and taking over the reigns as Springbok coach, as the starting point. </p><p>“Our whole approach to tackle the 2019 World Cup was to focus purely on lessons learned from mistakes made in previous World Cups. I was a player in '99 at the World Cup, in 2003 I was not there, in 2007 and 2011 I was on the management team and in 2015, I was the high-performance manager at SARU. So, I always said, consider all the times we nearly won and lost out. That's where you get your plans and options from." </p><p>He shared how important it is to align the thinking of the entire team. Success is not about leadership, but ownership: each player had to take full ownership relating to his on field and off field aspects. He pointed out that the players had to see themselves as a cohesive team. It proved to be a successful starting point to build on. Subsequently, with the focus on teamwork and a true Springbok spirit, they could get to work.</p><p>Erasmus shared several insights on the role of management, of each player, and emphasised that to achieve success one has to select and appoint the right people. Success is down to also having a diverse team. “We had four women in the management team who played a very important role for our players. I can tell you now, at the World Cup we had a 100% happy, transformed and diverse playing and management team." </p><p>Many of the points he shared were beneficial for people in business, sport, institutions of learning and various other organisations. </p><p>Bruns is excited about future Maties Crest Talks and the benefit they could hold for alumni in their professional lives. “Through the Maties Crest Talks we are creating a platform for leaders from different walks of life, different industries and various contexts to share their views on leadership exclusively with Matie alumni - as diverse and original as their presentations might be. We will invite speakers with different views in order to inform leadership that is creative, innovative and informing workplace satisfaction. Watch this space – we plan on hosting more inspiring talks in the coming months." <br></p>
‘Everyone can make a difference’‘Everyone can make a difference’Development & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p>​​As a young boy growing up in the Eastern Cape, Sven Weidner always wanted to lend a helping hand to those in need. He believes that no effort is too small to make a change. “It does not always need to be a financial donation; one can also give some of one's time."<br></p><p>Today, this Matie alumnus, who is currently living in London, is all set to raise money for Stellenbosch University's UK/EU Bursary Fund. Sven will embark on a 100-kilometre walk to raise funds and in the process hopes to lose some of his unwanted kilos and to help Matie students in need. </p><p><strong>Please tell us about yourself. </strong></p><p>I am a born-and-bred Eastern Cape boy, first generation, and am passionate about South Africa. My parents emigrated from Germany in the 1960s. We spoke German at home, and I was sent to an Afrikaans school and an English university (then known as UPE). I graduated with a B.Com in 1995. Whilst studying and having to pay university fees, I combined my love for the sea with my lifesaving skills, first as a sport and then as a career, which funded my B.Com. </p><p>In 1995, I joined the Corporate Finance team of First National Bank. Whilst working, I completed a postgraduate Diploma in International Banking. I realised that a career progression would mean having to work in a larger city, and not wanting to work in Johannesburg. In 1998, I left for London with one backpack and £1 000 in my pocket. </p><p>From 1999 to 2000, I worked on international projects in various investment banks, spending a year in Frankfurt, Germany, on a project. However, I did not feel intellectually stimulated and bored and with the intention to surf as much as I did at UPE, I headed to Cape Town in January 2001, enrolled for a full-time MBA at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and lived in Blouberg. I obtained my MBA degree towards the end of 2004 after completing my MBA thesis.</p><p>After my year at USB, I returned to Europe and worked in various risk management roles, one in Düsseldorf, Germany, were I lived for five years. In Düsseldorf I met my wife, who is also a German-speaking South African, and we shared similar experiences of our hybrid cultures. We relocated to the United Kingdom in 2009 due to a career opportunity and live in Sunny Surrey with our 12-year-old son, nine-year-old daughter and thirteen pets. (9 Khoi fish, one bird , 2 hamsters and one cat)</p><p>I currently work as a senior risk consultant for a large insurance firm, implementing a model risk management (MRM) framework. I am also trying hard – but failing dismally – to complete my doctorate (DBA) in MRM through the Bradford Business School. I plan to graduate in June 2021 but think after that I will stop studying for a bit. Another objective of my mine is learning to speak Italian in this isolation period. </p><p><strong>What is the 100-kilometre challenge, and why are you doing it?</strong></p><p>The challenge serves a twofold purpose: I have gained a nasty 20 kg in weight in the last five years, and last year I joined the Stellies Alumni gatherings. My dear friend Darryn Havenga told me of the current dilemma at Stellenbosch with students sometimes needing to go without food for a day or days. I was shocked to my core and immediately wanted to do something about this and to become more involved in giving to the United Kingdom-registered Stellenbosch University Charity to alleviate this problem.  </p><p><strong>What have you been doing to train for this challenge?</strong></p><p>Isolation has been a blessing in disguise. With more time on our hands, I have become a serial walker. On weekdays, I walk one to two hours every day and on weekends, I walk three to four hours. I recently got lost and ended up walking for five hours as unbeknown to my family, my mobile had run out of battery and they assumed that I had chosen a longer route. I now walk with about two maps when I go on my strolls. </p><p><strong>Do you remember when you first started being philanthropic, and what made you do it?</strong></p><p>Growing up in the 1980s in the Eastern Cape, I experienced very tough times from a political and economic perspective. Hardworking people were laid off due to factories, such as Ford, closing their plants in Port Elizabeth. </p><p>Even as a child, I noticed the suffering and hardship that people and especially children had to endure with entire families not having any food to eat. My giving to others started when I was very young; my mom told me a tale, and when I was 12, I told her that I was going to do something about the poverty in the Eastern Cape. This issue had made me quite sad. My mom started noticing two things happening around the house – we were forever out of tinned food, regardless of how much she bought, and every time the doorbell rang, I would dash to the door to open it. </p><p>I was handing out food cans to people who knew I was donating, and I thought that it did not matter how small my effort was, it would make a change. It did occur to me at the time that the abundance of food cans miraculously never ran out, and it was only after I was 25 that my mom admitted to her buying five times as many food cans than necessary for our own use behind the scenes to sponsor my charitable initiative. </p><p><strong>Do you think people have to be rich in order to be philanthropic?</strong></p><p>No, definitely not. I still think, as I did as that kid handing out the canned food, that everyone can make a difference. No effort is too small to make a change. It does not always need to be a financial donation; one can also give some of one's time, such as mentoring a young Stellies student, for example. I also do all my Amazon purchases via Smile Amazon, and Stellenbosch University Charity receives a percentage of my purchases on Amazon. </p><p><strong>How or where can other Maties help you in achieving your fundraising goal?</strong></p><p>I have set up a 'GoFund me' web page for donations. <strong style="text-decoration:underline;"><a href="">Please click here to read more. ​</a></strong><br></p><p><br></p>
Springboks, alumni and supporters raise funds with #Train4Fees, alumni and supporters raise funds with #Train4FeesDevelopment & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p><em></em></p><p>Maties Sport and the Development and Alumni Relations Division (DAR) at Stellenbosch University (SU) have launched a 2-month fundraising campaign – #Train4Fees – to help student-athletes in need of financial assistance to pay for their study fees in these difficult COVID times.</p><p>Since 1 June, the #Train4Fees campaign, hosted on <a href=""><strong></strong></a><strong>,</strong> has gone live on the GivenGain donating platform with financial and training support not only from Maties alumni but also ordinary South Africans – here and abroad. <br><br>Notably, ex-Maties Sport players, the Stormers and Springboks Pieter-Steph du Toit, Breyton Paulse and Schalk Brits have posted their support for #Train4Fees. In the customary fashion of less talk, more action, lock and flanker, Du Toit said, “I'm happy to support the #Train4Fees campaign by Maties."<br><br>South Africa's favourite Koue Bokkeveld wing, Breyton Paulse, similarly offered his support in a #Train4Fees Appeal on YouTube by commenting, “This is a difficult and tough COVID time."<br><br>Springbok hooker Schalk Brits makes up the trio of Springboks lending their support to #Train4Fees. “Let's raise funds and help people that need it more than us," Britz said recently. <br><br>It's not only those Maties rugby players in a dire financial position that will benefit from the fundraising campaign – all Maties Sport disciplines are targeted with soccer, cricket, netball and hockey making up the suite of donation portals on GivenGain. <br><br>According to Ilhaam Groenewald, Chief Director for Maties Sport, “Here at Stellenbosch University and Maties Sport our student-athletes demonstrate that high-level participation in university sport runs side by side with the educational mission of a university of excellence. And we continue to deliver outstanding teams and garner individual achievements, just like our Maties Sport alumni did."<br><br>Athletics, swimming, tennis, parasport, gymnastics, Taekwondo – in fact, in all Maties Sport disciplines where student-athletes require financial assistance, would ultimately benefit from the funds raised.<br><br><strong>For each kilometre funds will be raised</strong><br><br>The public is asked to either donate funds to the various fundraisers or to join the campaign by running, cycling, skateboarding, power walking – whatever fitness training they enjoy. They can also show their support by signing up to become a fundraiser for #Train4Fees and raise funds or <em>every km they crush</em>. <br><br>Regarding the #Train4Fees campaign, Groenewald said, “A major effort in 2020 and beyond is working with the University's Development and Alumni Relations Division and various stakeholders towards achieving better success with our fundraising opportunities."<br><br>Currently, the number of registered fundraisers is 67<strong> </strong>and the overall amount raised by the #Train4Fees fundraising campaign is R123,500 with R1,200,000 as target when the campaign draws to a close on 31 July 2020. <br><br>According to Hans Scriba, Fundraising Manager for Maties Sport at DAR, sport players are generally competitive. He commented after the support shown by over one hundred Maties Sport coaches and players. “Several sports coaches, players and volunteer supporters have already registered. We will work hard to extend and widen this giving network by reaching out and involving the vast Maties alumni family." <br><br>Scriba, a former Maties and Western Province utility back, is also taking part in the #Train4Fees campaign, “I have done 58km over the first ten days for this very worthwhile cause – only 192 to go! Thank you for the great support so far." <br><br>Maties hockey player, Ru Baker, hailing from Ocean View, Bluff in KwaZulu-Natal, is at present, one of the top #Train4Fees fundraisers with an amount of R10,700. </p><ul><li>#Train4Fees on Maties Alumni website: <a href=""><strong></strong></a></li><li>#Train4Fees on GivenGain website: <a href=""><strong></strong></a><br></li></ul><p><br></p>
Chanine believes in paying it forward believes in paying it forwardDevelopment & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p>Stellenbosch University (SU) alumni never fail to impress with their commitment to making life better for others and their loyalty to their alma mater. <br></p><p>One such Matie is Chanine Klomp, who has made a generous donation to SU's recently launched <a href="">COVID‑19 Relief Fund</a>. Chanine, who currently works in London as a programme manager at Facebook, has asked that her donation be used in any of the five focus areas identified by the University. </p><p>These areas include <a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;">broadening digital access to bridge the digital divide, </a>creating <a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;">food security via our #Move4Food campaign</a><span style="text-decoration:underline;">, </span><a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;">providing support for SU's healthcare workers</a> on the frontlines of the pandemic, providing <span style="text-decoration:underline;">s</span><a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;">upport for our researchers</a> and helping the <a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;">broader Stellenbosch community</a><span style="text-decoration:underline;">.</span></p><p>We got to know Chanine a little better.</p><p><strong>Tell us more about yourself.</strong></p><p>I had the privilege of growing up surrounded by the Stellenbosch mountains. I started my schooling at Laerskool Stellenbosch, moved on to Hoër Meisieskool Bloemhof and finished as a Matie in 2012 when I received my Bachelor's in Industrial Engineering. The years that I spent in Stellenbosch as a Matie (2009–2012) are definitely the highlight of my life as I made lifelong friends and learned so much academically and socially<em>.</em></p><p><strong>What kind of work do you do?</strong></p><p>I started my career as a process engineer at Deloitte Consulting in Johannesburg. Deloitte provided me with a great opportunity to do a secondment in Scotland for a year. After Scotland, I decided to continue living on this side of the world as it was so much more accessible and affordable to travel and explore the world from this side. Therefore, I moved to Dublin where I worked for Deloitte Consulting in Ireland for three years. At the start of this year, I moved to London to work for Facebook as a programme manager in the Business Planning and Operations Department. Facebook is an amazing company to work for and really cares about its employees and the community. </p><p><strong>Why do you donate? </strong></p><p>Donating is something that I see as a necessity for ensuring that more people can receive the opportunities that I had growing up. The majority of my donations are for organisations in South Africa as it remains my home and the need is just so great. Donating is my way of not running away from all the problems that our country is facing but rather helping to build our country through equipping our people and organisations who are fighting to break the poverty cycle. It is a bit like paying it forward if I give time or money to people to enable them to look after their families and communities. </p><p><strong>How long have you been a donor?</strong></p><p>I would say that I have given back in various forms, in terms of both money and time. While living in Johannesburg, I donated my time to two Grade 11 boys from Alexandra township to provide motivation and support through their last two school years. Throughout the time that I spent with them, I could really see how the boys' confidence and hope of a better future grew as they previously had not really seen a future beyond school. Both the boys matriculated with high marks and are graduating this year. I have always donated money here and there but really started to donate this year to various charities in South Africa, including the Red Cross and Stellenbosch University. I soon realised that the pound-to-rand exchange went a long way and could make a major difference to the lives of people in South Africa.</p><p><strong>Why did you choose to support Stellenbosch University now?</strong></p><p>I believe in the power of education as it will enable more people to have the opportunities that I had and to earn enough money to look after themselves and their families or communities. </p><p><strong>Will you encourage others to donate as well?</strong></p><p>Yes, I always encourage others to donate and have arranged two charity pub quizzes for my niece who has special needs, which has taught me that every bit helps and that people are really caring and giving! This is something that I learnt from the Irish as well as that there is constantly a charity to support. </p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li><a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong>Click here</strong></a><span style="text-decoration:underline;"> </span>for more on the University's COVID-19 response.</li></ul><p> <br></p><p><br></p>
Stellenbosch University’s BioCODE first recipient of UTF funding University’s BioCODE first recipient of UTF fundingInnovus <p>​​While you read this article, there will be at least 4 500 cancer fatalities and 8 000 from cardiovascular disease, according to the World Health Organisation. These statistics are exacerbated by the circumstances and lack of health care for many of these victims in developing countries.<br></p><p>Prof Resia Pretorius, head of Stellenbosch University's Physiological Sciences Department in the Faculty of Science, and her team of researchers, engineers and scientists hope to address these needs with the patenting and development of the BioCODE 2-in-1 nanosensor to determine disease risk in patients.</p><p>Pretorius says cancer and cardiovascular diseases are often characterised by type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack and thrombosis, and the golden thread that links all of these conditions is systemic inflammation. “This inflammation is the result of increased circulating inflammatory biomarkers, including serum amyloid A, P-selectin and abnormal blood protein folding. These biomarkers are the cause of sticky blood and their presence greatly increase the possibility of getting a stroke, a heart attack or deep vein thrombosis."</p><p>Introduced by Anita Nel, Chief Director of Innovation and Business Development, who heads up <a href="">Innovus</a>, SU's technology transfer office for the commercialisation of the Institution's assets, Pretorius, Prof Anna-Mart Engelbrecht a cancer researcher, also from the department of Physiological Sciences, and Prof Willie Perold from SU's Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, developed a protocol for a small portable and cost effective nanosensor. The BioCODE team was the first recipients of funding from the newly established University Technology Fund (UTF).</p><p>Innovus was instrumental in working with the researchers to secure funding for the first stages of the development work of the BioCODE, the patenting thereof and the establishment of a company that is currently being incubated at SU's LaunchLab.</p><p>The sensor will be relatively cheap to produce and small enough to be used by a medical practitioner in his or her rooms and for nurses in mobile clinics. A second part of the sensor detects spontaneously formed sticky blood clotlets in circulation, using smartphone based technology. Perold says it is very exciting to be part of this multidisciplinary team of experts. “I do believe that many of the solutions of current day problems lie in this approach."</p><p>Pretorius said the BioCODE detects inflammatory biomarker levels from a drop of blood. “The serum amyloid A and P-selectin molecules in a person's circulation are upregulated when you have a risk for cancer or cardiovascular disease. To measure these molecules, we use antibodies which we immobilise on a test strip for the BioCODE," said Pretorius who, in 2018, already received funding to produce the antibodies in alpacas. They are now in the process to compare the antibodies to commercial ones.</p><p>In practice, a medical practitioner would usually send blood away to pathology laboratories for biomarker analysis. With the 2-in-1 nanosensor, the practitioner no longer has to send the blood samples away. Putting drops of a patient's blood on strips with serum amyloid A and P-selectin, will enable a practitioner to determine levels of the biomarkers in the patient. “Although one cannot determine what kind of cancer a patient might have per se, if serum amyloid A is greatly increased in circulation, it could suggest that a type of cancer is prevalent, and further testing can be done. “For instance, if the serum amyloid A levels are very high in a male patient, one can test for prostate cancer or in the case of a female patient, for breast cancer". These biomarkers are also significantly upregulated in cardiovascular disease.  The clinician still would need to make the final diagnoses, based on the usual clinical diagnostic processes.</p><p>“Our aim is to constantly improve the sensors to finally being able to detect specific cancers. We are currently also working on a sensor for the early detection of pancreatic cancer; since it is usually detected at a very late stage with a poor prognosis for these patients. This sensor will enable us to detect this cancer at a much earlier stage which will make 'n huge difference to the life expectancy of these patients with a current life expectancy of only 3-6 months," says Prof Engelbrecht.</p><p>Pretorius said the nanosensor could even be used to predict increased cytokine activity that is characteristic of the cytokine storm during COVID-19.</p><p>The prototype of the electronic part of the nanosensor is currently being finalised. BioCODE's first employee, Este Burger, who recently graduated from SU as an engineer, is working on the development of the smartphone-sensor for the company.</p><p>Dr Andre du Toit (post-doc researcher) and Greta de Waal (PhD student), both from the Department of Physiological Sciences, assist the team in the immobilisation of the antibodies onto the test strips.</p><p>Also part of the BioCODE team is SU's Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, (who is a gastroenterologist, with a special interest in serum amyloid A in colorectal cancer) who, together with Prof Pretorius, Prof Engelbrecht and Prof Perold, holds the patent for the BioCODE and shares the supervision of a PhD-student with Pretorius.</p><p>“BioCODE is the right product for the right time in South Africa today," says De Villiers. “Not only is it cost effective to produce, but it will enable medical practitioners to give people in our rural areas access to valuable medical screening which is currently not possible to do. For me it is an honour to be part of a young and dedicated team that is creating a home-grown product that will be used by the medical practitioners around the globe."</p><p>Pretorius expresses her thanks to the UTF for funding the research. It will enable the team to successfully reach the milestones which will provide leverage for further funding. “We will need to produce ten of the BioCODE 2-in-1 sensors and pull in an independent company which will draw blood and do tests on the BioCODE to determine if it will give consistent and comparable gold standard results. This will eventually lead to prototrials towards the end of milestone three at the end of 2020, which could put BioCODE on a path towards becoming a commercially viable product."</p><p>Stocks and Strauss, who was appointed as fund managers for the UTF fund, believes that BioCODE is an unique investment opportunity, says partner Wayne Stocks. “It is our opinion that the science is novel, the market is an exciting one, and the BioCODE team has the expertise, experience and passion to achieve the milestones identified to prove and commercialise the technology on a global scale."<br><br></p><p> </p><p><strong><em>About Innovus</em></strong></p><p><em>Innovus is a division of Stellenbosch University responsible for technology transfer, entrepreneurial support and development, and innovation at the university. Innovus manages the commercialisation of the University's innovation and intellectual property portfolio through patenting, licensing and the formation of spin-out companies.</em></p><p><em>Through our LaunchLab business incubator, Innovus offers various services to and opportunities for entrepreneurs. In addition to this their equity holding in the Innovus group of companies is a valuable asset for the university.</em></p><p><em>Innovus's website ( profiles an impressive portfolio of patents and provides tools and advice for inventors wishing to commercialise their ideas, and investors who want to help turn great ideas into reality.</em></p><p><strong><em>About Innovus and the UTF</em></strong></p><p><em>Stellenbosch University (SU) and the University of Cape Town co-invested in the newly established R150-million University Technology Fund (UTF) (a first for the continent of Africa) that was set up by the SA SME Fund in its endeavour to partner with South African universities to commercialise the technologies and business ideas that arise from these universities.</em><em> </em></p><p><em>For a few years now, Anita Nel, </em><em>Chief Director of Innovation and Business Development</em><em> at Innovus, and her team have been working on developing a funding model for early seed capital for universities' inventions and to gain support for it.</em><em>  </em><em>Such funding is crucial for the initial development phase of early stage technologies and to set up start-up ventures. Funds focusing solely on investing in university technologies are mushrooming abroad, but the UTF is the first investment fund in Africa dedicated for university inventions.</em><em>  </em><em>It has a unique model that makes provision for a pre-seed funding allocation that empowers institutions' technology transfer offices to support early stage technology development, building a solid pipeline of investable technologies for the UTF.</em><em> </em></p><p><br></p>
Matie brothers work with government to fight COVID-19 brothers work with government to fight COVID-19Development & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p>COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world, bringing nations to a complete standstill and leaving economies in tatters. In South Africa it is no different as fears and uncertainty abound about what to do about the pandemic and how to get it done.<br></p><p>In the midst of this, Matie alumni and brothers, Malan and Philip Joubert, are connecting government and the tech community through their company, OfferZen, by “identifying community and government projects that can make a difference" in fighting the pandemic and minimising the expected economic impact. OfferZen, an online tech marketplace, has access to over 90 000 software makers in South Africa. <br></p><p>“I believe that the tech community has unique abilities and a willingness to help fight the health and economic effects of COVID-19," says Malan.<br></p><p>Project Unlockdown brings together volunteers from the tech ecosystem to work on projects designed to tackle the impacts of COVID-19 and implement an effective post-crisis economic response. <br></p><p>The Vulnerability Mapping project was one of the first initiatives. Volunteers from the tech community collaborated with the South African SDG Hub hosted by the University of Pretoria, who was developing a health-map of communities that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. <br></p><p>“Professor Willem Fourie from the University of Pretoria, a fellow Stellenbosch University alumnus, reached out to me on LinkedIn," explains Malan. <br></p><p>“His team was working on a project to build the Vulnerable Communities Map and needed extra developers on board to make it happen. We put out a quick call to the founders group and the OfferZen community, and soon hundreds of people volunteered."<br></p><p>The map helped identify where COVID-19 would have the most devastating impact by identifying the most vulnerable communities - in particular where those individuals with pre-existing illnesses reside.<br></p><p>When the Office of the Presidency heard of OfferZen's involvement in the project, they invited them to Pretoria and asked the company to assist government in its fight against the pandemic. Since then, OfferZen has helped identify projects that could help the government's ability to respond to the crisis and assist in connecting tech community members to relevant government partners.<br></p><p>“The government realised how critical it will be to collaborate with local tech companies and developers in this time of crisis. And the community stepped up to help."<br></p><p>As developers and entrepreneurs, they know the tech industry well. Malan and Philip both studied engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU). <br></p><p>“This fight includes raising awareness and galvanising support in the tech community, recruiting and coordinating volunteers for these projects and then connecting tech community members to relevant government parties."<br></p><p>“We've set up a dedicated team that can do this and that identifies community and government projects that can make a difference and helps drive them to make an impact," says Malan.<br></p><p>Other than the Vulnerability Map, Project Unlockdown has been working on supporting several other projects including the Rapidly Manufactured Medical Equipment project which aims to bring the community together around the manufacture of masks, protective equipment and supporting the National Ventilator Project.<br></p><p>The Economic Impact project is gathering and collating real-time economic data to give indicators on the economic impact that the virus and lockdown are having on our companies and sector. <br></p><p>“We're also supporting the Helpful Engineering initiative – a global community of over 16 000 engineers from across the globe sharing their learnings and helping each other fight COVID-19," Malan adds. <br></p><p>Project Unlockdown has drawn volunteers offering services such as coding, data analysis and access to data sets. Volunteers from the legal, regulatory and business arena have also joined the call.<br></p><p>“We would not have been able to mobilise Project Unlockdown so quickly without the voluntary efforts of South Africa's tech ecosystem. They really stepped up during this crucial time. We're proud to be a part of this community," Malan concludes. <br></p><p><em>Photo: Maties alumni and brothers, Malan (pictured) and Philip Joubert, are connecting government and the tech community through their company, OfferZen, to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic and minimise the expected economic impact. (Supplied)</em>​</p><p><br></p>
Alumnus gives learners access to free online lessons gives learners access to free online lessonsDevelopment & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p><em>​When schools across the country closed earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most parents were in a panic about the impact on their children's academic year. Luckily, Adrian Marnewick, an alumnus of the Stellenbosch University Business School (USB), stepped up to lend a helping hand in the form of online lessons via, an online study hub.</em></p><p>For Adrian, a 35-year-old Cape Town based entrepreneur and business owner with a particular interest in online education, it was obvious from the start that his company, Learning Lab Apps, the company that invented WorksheetCloud, will help parents and learners in need. </p><p>Adrian co-founded Learning Lab Apps in 2014 with his father, who was head of physics at a high school for 15 years before resigning from teaching to start his own educational software development business in the 90's - back in the day before the term “edtech" existed. </p><p>He says his father invited him to join the family business when they both realised that the route of following a formal tertiary education was not for him. "In 2007, I was accepted to study a Business Management course part-time at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. I believe this sparked my love for learning and I quickly realised that working combined with ongoing learning was what interested me the most. Since my Business Management course at USB in 2007, I have committed to learning something new every year. I've now completed courses in Project Management, Product Design and Leadership to name only a few."</p><p>Adrian says Learning Lab Apps has a mission to create happiness in families. The way we achieve that is through the online educational app that we've developed called WorksheetCloud. We all remember stressing ourselves and our parents before tests and exams, and this is what WorksheetCloud aims to reduce or eliminate," he says.</p><p>WorksheetCloud provides learners with online, interactive worksheets and practice exams. The content is based on the South African CAPS and IEB curriculum and covers Mathematics, English, Afrikaans, Natural Science, History and Geography depending on the grade. They have content available from Grades 1 to 9.</p><p>“Parents no longer need to spend hours searching for relevant study content. WorksheetCloud's content includes detailed answers with model explanations, hints and tips. All the content is designed to help your child improve their school results quickly and effectively," he explains.</p><p>According to Adrian, it was obvious and understandable that parents were freaking out about the lockdown and the negative impact it will have on their children's academics. "It was clear that we had to do something that was going to benefit the country — that would be freely accessible to as many learners and parents as possible. I recall having a discussion with my father who said: 'Even if we lose money, which will very likely happen, I want us to help people.'" </p><p>They put their heads together and came up with the idea of offering free, live-streamed online lessons and called it WorksheetCloud Live Lessons. However, it did not go off without a hitch at first. “Even though we managed to live-stream lessons to 40 000 learners on the first two days, which is a record in South Africa, we experience technical difficulties. With seven teachers, all sitting at home with differing internet speeds, it quickly became clear that live lessons were going to end up frustrating too many users because some of the teachers' internet connections would bomb out mid-lesson." </p><p>Adrian says they then pivoted and rebuilt the entire site and system within 18 hours to cater for on-demand, recorded lessons and just replaced "Live" with "Online" in their name, WorksheetCloud Online Lessons.</p><p>Working long hours have also become par for the course. "Since we launched WorksheetCloud Online Lessons, I've been working 12 to 14 hour days, as has most of our team. But, that's okay because our team believes strongly in rolling with the punches."</p><p>According to Adrian, they have been funding the majority of the project themselves along with a contribution from their partner MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet. "We'll continue recording new lessons for as long as possible. However, once we stop recording new lessons, we'll still make all the videos available so that parents and learners can access them for free at any time."</p><p>He believes that the real heroes are the teachers and the team behind WorksheetCloud Online Lessons - who give of their days and nights to make this content available to learners across South Africa. "I feel proud of them."</p><p>So what can users expect from this platform in future? Adrian says later this year they will be launching the biggest upgrade to WorksheetCloud in three years. “We're launching Study Notes into the platform, which are basically “cheat sheets" that give learners everything they need to study in a bite-sized format.</p><p>“We believe firmly in the MVP (minimum viable product) process, which means that we develop small ideas, build them as quickly as possible, put them out to our customers and get feedback that we use to make improvements. This means it's very difficult to tell exactly what WorksheetCloud will look like in the future, because our product development is powered by our users. However, my vision is to have one million paying users within the next five years. It's very ambitious, but we didn't get as far as we are now by being afraid to take risks," he concludes.</p><ul><li> Parents and learners can access the free content at <a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong></strong></a><strong style="text-decoration:underline;">. </strong><br></li></ul><p><br></p>
Students launch ‘We Fight Back COVID’ initiative launch ‘We Fight Back COVID’ initiative Development & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p style="text-align:justify;">​Students and alumni from the healthcare fields at Stellenbosch University (SU) and other South African universities have come together to fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic through five initiatives they believe can make the biggest impact right now.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“As a doctor in training one does feel a sense of responsibility to contribute in any way you can as we fight this pandemic. Being a doctor does not start on the day you receive your degree, but much earlier based on the commitment you make to do this work. It also feels like the right thing to do," says Luné Smith, a fifth-year medical student at SU's Tygerberg campus and one of the coordinators of We Fight Back COVID.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">We Fight Back COVID consists of volunteers that provide mothers and babies in lockdown in the kangaroo mother care (KMC) wards and lodger areas at Tygerberg Hospital with essential items during their stay; assist with the manufacturing of face shields for healthcare workers at Tygerberg hospital and other healthcare centres; and make, distribute and educate the public on how to safely use and take care of face masks. Volunteers are also involved in making homemade spacers to use with metered dose inhalers (MDIs) for patients who have bronchospasms (in other words, a tight chest or are feeling breathless) and need to take aerolised medication during the COVID-19 pandemic; and are sharing scientific-based information on the virus on the organisation's Facebook and Instagram pages. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">While Smith drives the We Fight Back COVID initiatives with support from volunteers, they are guided by Dr Suretha Kannenberg from the Division of Dermatology in the Medicine Department at SU, who acts as liaison between the Tygerberg students and SU.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">As part of their support to mothers in the KMC wards and lodger areas, students at Tygerberg campus distribute donated toiletries, baby clothes, and snacks, and provide mothers with examples of educational activities they can do to aid their babies' development. Occupational Therapy students have also created a journal for the mothers to record their babies' milestones. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“These moms are dealing with a lot emotionally and are often alone with nothing to do, so this helps alleviate their stress." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Volunteers also assist the Orthopaedic Surgery Department under the guidance of Dr Rudolph Venter, a lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and an orthopaedic surgeon, to 3D print visors to protect those on the frontline of fighting the pandemic from getting infected. The first 140 visors were delivered to the Occupational Health Department in early April in order for it to be distributed at Tygerberg Hospital.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We also delivered another 55 visors to our screening area and Orthopaedics Department, a further 110 visors to the Occupational Health Department, as well as 20 visors to the ICU at the hospital."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Smith, the mask making initiative has led to 40 masks being distributed to mothers in the KMC and lodger areas and 60 to campus security. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Love starts at home and what would be the point if we try to save the world, but our home is falling apart. Our security personnel keep us safe on campus, so this is the least we can do for them." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Another critical and potentially lifesaving initiative that volunteers are involved in, is the production of spacers using plastic bottles. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“COVID-19 is a disease that is spread through droplets and has the potential to become aerolised when a person with bronchospasms uses a nebuliser. The medical industry is therefore moving away from nebulisation in all healthcare settings as it carries a theoretical risk of aerosolising and spreading the virus," explains Smith. <em> </em></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Metered dose inhalers (MDIs) such as asthma pumps, which administer aerolised medication in measured amounts, along with spacers will instead be used. Spacers are tubes that are attached to MDIs and helps medication get into the lungs much easier as it contains the ejected aerosolised medication, allowing the user more time to breathe it in while they are unable to control their breathing properly during the bronchospasm.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“There is concrete evidence that home-made spacers using a bottle with a hole cut in it is just as effective as commercially available ones and seeing that we'll soon have a massive demand for these, we have started collecting these bottles and turning them into spacers. The community is also decorating these bottles with a message of hope to promote a spirit of camaraderie amongst people."</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>You can follow the group on Facebook (We Fight Back COVID) and Instagram  (@we.fight.back.covid). </strong><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Photo 1:  </strong><em>Student volunteers and two nurses outside a COVID-19 screening facility where the students dropped off the 3D printed visors they made to help keep healthcare workers safe. At the back from the left are students Venuchka Vermeulen, Nicola Duvenhage, and Abdul Baasit Isaacs, with Luné Smith kneeling in the front. (Photo: Sokwanda Njeza)</em><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Photo 2: </strong><em>Student volunteers ready to deliver packages to moms in the KMC wards at Tygerberg Hospital. From the left are Jemma Kent, Anandi De Witt, Iza-Mari Gaybba, Luné Smith, and Sangeun Lee. (Photo: Sokwanda Njeza)</em><br><br></p><p><br></p>
Stellenbosch University launches COVID-19 Relief Funds University launches COVID-19 Relief FundsDevelopment & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p>​Would you like to help Stellenbosch University (SU) to make a positive difference during this COVID-19 pandemic? The University has identified five priority areas where staff, alumni, donors and friends of the University could lend a helping hand. <br></p><p>Says Karen Bruns, Senior Director: Development & Alumni Relations: "Even during these unprecedented times for all of our internal and external stakeholders - we are looking to highlight how everyone can continue to support our essential work through their philanthropic giving - especially now that we're all confronted with the added impact of COVID-19.</p><p>"We in the Development & Alumni Relations Division at Stellenbosch University are hopeful that, as the world recovers from the impact of this pandemic, we will all have a stronger sense of solidarity as staff, students, alumni and donors."</p><p>The priorities identified are as follows: </p><p><strong>Digital Access for SU students</strong><strong>   </strong></p><p>We have decided to focus on digital access for our students to give them the tools to complete online learning and teaching. A recent survey indicated that around 880 students urgently require support in order for us to successfully move into online teaching and learning. Each laptop costs up to R8 000 per student. Can you lend a hand to address this challenge and stand with our students during this period and make a gift to support this urgent priority? </p><ul><li><a href=""><strong>Click here to make a contribution.</strong></a> </li></ul><p> </p><p><strong>#Move4Food </strong></p><p>We will be enhancing our support for our student-led #Move4Food campaign to curb student hunger.  Not knowing where the next meal will come from is a reality for many South Africans, including our SU students. The bleak reality is that a lack of access to affordable and nutritious food on South African campuses is rife and Stellenbosch University is no exception. Your support of the #Move4Food campaign not only touches our students' lives every day, it is also a powerful and exemplary demonstration of your commitment to transforming the lives of young people. </p><ul><li><a href=""><strong>Click here to make a contribution.</strong></a> </li></ul><p> </p><p><strong>Support for SU Healthcare workers </strong></p><p> Our SU healthcare workers are working on the frontlines of this pandemic and also need our support. This would include personal protective equipment, food stations, anything related to reducing the risk of contamination (separate tea and coffee stations, for instance) and logistical support. Can you make a difference here?</p><ul><li><a href=""><strong>Click here to make a contribution.</strong></a> </li></ul><p> </p><p><strong>Research & Innovation Response </strong></p><p>In line with our strategic framework and the focus on research for impact, we remain committed to supporting the global pursuit to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. SU is involved in a range of efforts to fight this pandemic - from developing a method for preventing and treating microbial growth on manufactured products including packaging materials, to a synthetic pharmaceutical in the test phase as a supportive agent for the treatment of Acute/Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The list goes on!  At a time like this we're reminded how much the world needs science – of all types – and how the production of knowledge is in everyone's best interests. </p><ul><li><a href=""><strong>Click here to make a contribution.</strong></a> </li></ul><p> </p><p><strong>#StellenboschUnite </strong></p><p>Stellenbosch University has partnered with the wider Stellenbosch community under the umbrella of #StellenboschUnite. Through this partnership, we are working on procuring and distributing food and provision parcels to vulnerable community members.  The project aims to procure and distribute a minimum of 2 500 food and provision parcels per week to vulnerable community members. To secure the 2 500 parcels, the initiative requires a minimum of R250 000 per week. Your support would ensure that we can make a contribution to this cause.</p><ul><li><a href=""><strong>Click here to make a contribution.</strong></a></li></ul><p> </p><p><strong>Also visit the new COVID-19 Relief Funds website for more information:</strong><strong> </strong><a href=""><strong></strong></a><br></p><p><br></p>