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The University of Venda (Univen) in partnership with Leuphana University of Luneburg, BASF Stiftung, Deutsche UNESCO and South African National Commission for UNESCO are officially hosting the Student Training for Entrepreneurial Promotion (STEP). This training is currently underway until 31 October 2019 at Univen. The official opening of this student training took place on Monday, 22 July 2019 at the University Auditorium. 

Head of Controlling, BASF South Africa, on behalf of BASF Stiftung, Mr Pfarelo Mutwanamba said this project is very much close to his heart because he is also a Univen graduate. Mr Mutwanamba continued to express that it is good to see good things like this happening at Univen. He highlighted that this is a good initiative and told students to grab it and use this opportunity. Mutwanamba encouraged students to work hard if they want to prosper in life. “Creation of businesses results in creation of employment. Entrepreneurship is a key that plays a big role in job creation. We need you to carry that responsibility. Get involved and carry this country forward,” he told students. 

DVC Academic, Prof Jan Crafford speaking on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni told the audience that this launch is one of the first initiatives that will help young adults with leadership and life skills. “STEP is here to develop young people and young people need to avail themselves and use this opportunity.” 

DVC Operations, Dr Robert Martin told the audience that this project has the University ‘s support. He further told student entrepreneurs to see themselves being somewhere and that will enable them to achieve what they want to achieve in life. “A vision is very important in everyone’s life. Your integration in this project will make you a better person and will lead you to be who you want to be. We created this kind of project so that we can change the stories that we hear every day. Go and make impact out there.” He told students that they should not only make impact for this area but also to the whole world. Dr Martin thanked the facilitators of the programme; the partnering organizations; stakeholders, community engagement directorate; International Relations Directorate and partnering universities. 

“Entrepreneurship is not only about starting a business. This is not a self-enrichment scheme; it should be about wealth creation for all. It should not be about one person but for all to benefit. Do not become material people once you become successful,” he said. 

Secretary General of UNESCO SA, Mr Carlton Mukwevho told students that South Africa is a member of the United Nations; hence UNESCO SA is partnering in this project. “We support the work that our counterparts are doing, and not only in South Africa but also internationally.” 

Director Entrepreneurship: Universities South Africa (USAF), Dr Norah Clarke said that this project is going to be a game changer. “This is certainly the way to go. Universities need to understand that we need to make sure that there are options for students to choose whether to become employees or employers.” She said their organization don’t have a mandate and budget to fund students, but they give support where necessary. “We support the development through teaching and research. We make sure that students are skilled with basic knowledge on issues of entrepreneurship.” She congratulated Univen students who won first places in the EDHE Northern Region Intervarsity competition in the categories of Innovative ideas and Social Impact respectively, namely Mr Simon Maumela and Ms Zanele Shikwambana, Mr Promise Nyalungu and Mr Malapi Morifi. 

Programme Specialist: UNESCO Germany, Mr Florian Schmitt said it is UNESCO’s mission to support young people all around the globe. He expressed that STEP provides universities with necessary skills to enable students to be independent entrepreneurs. “Students get an opportunity to start a concrete business. We want to see this initiative succeeding even at Univen. Our long-term goal is to see this project being a success.” He thanked Univen management for giving students and staff this support. Mr Schmitt concluded his talk by telling students to use STEP as an opportunity for them to become job creators rather than job seekers. 

Vhembe SEDA Branch Manager, Mr Marcus Makumela explained this project as a very good initiative that can help many people including the surrounding communities. Mr Makumela continued to express that there are many factors that can help a business to succeed. “I believe this programme will take students to where they have been promised. As SEDA we fully support STEP. We need to start turning innovative ideas into sustainable businesses and we believe this is the beginning.” 

A delegate from Leuphana University of Luneburg, Ms Vanessa Buehler advised students to never wait for opportunities but rather create them. “If you wait for an opportunity to come, it might not come. It is about time to start creating opportunities.” She said they were impressed by Univen students’ innovative ideas. Ms Buehler told students to start believing in themselves because they are equally competitive like any other entrepreneurs in any part of the world. She thanked partnering organizations, students, and staff and told them to continue working together. 

Acting Director: International Relations, Dr Segun Obadire who was the programme director said that this is a choice project funded by UNESCO. We are privileged to have the support of the Management of the University and this is much appreciated. The STEP project is set to train 100 students who will receive $100 in their groups and other 100 students will be a control group. The students will be trained for 12 weeks while they are running their businesses by the side. 

Delegation from various partnering organisations posing for a group photo 

Issued by: 

Department of Communications & Marketing 

University of Venda 

Tel: (015) 962 8525 

Date: 26 July 2019 

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