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A group of invited guests pose for a photo during the conference

The Universal Greening Organisation (UGO) in partnership with Tshikovha Graduates and University of Venda (Univen) hosted the 3rd Annual Green Economy Conference on Tuesday, 03 October 2017 at Porche-Villa Hotel, Muledane outside Thohoyandou.

The conference was held under the theme ‘Business Opportunities in the Bioprospecting and Wildlife Economy’.

Bioprospecting and wildlife economy is growing rapidly, hence UGO saw a need to raise awareness about it. In the formal sector of bioprospecting, black participation is very low and in the informal sector of bioprospecting, traditional medicine market is mostly blacks. In wildlife economy, only 2.5% are blacks and the remaining 97.5% is occupied by whites. This means that, there is a great opportunity for emerging young entrepreneurs in the field of environment to participate in this sector.

The conference is used as a tool to facilitate creation of enabling environment for students and community members to access job market and entrepreneurship.

Green economy must help us reduce poverty- Radzilani

“Our main focus must be to empower and encourage more women and young entrepreneurs to recognise existing potential in order to exploit it to the fullest,” alluded the Executive Mayor of Vhembe District Municipality, Cllr Florence Radzilani when officially opening the conference.

The Executive Mayor said the conference holds possibilities of boosting entrepreneurship potential amongst the youth in the district. “We need home grown alternative solutions to the current challenges of healthcare, energy, food security, agriculture, water shortages and sanitation,” the Mayor highlighted.

The Executive Mayor reiterated that the green economy is the future economy. “It must help us to achieve sustainable development as envisaged in the National Development Plan,” the Mayor added.

“It must help us reduce poverty, skill young people to create their own jobs and generate much needed employment. It must protect our natural ecosystems against degradation whilst maximising tourism benefits. It must mitigate the negative effects of climate change by reducing carbon footprint through cleaner and greener energy and technology.”

UGO is doing a sterling job which serves as an inspiration to others- Mr Munzhedzi

In his opening remarks, Deputy Director General of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, said it is exciting to see young people taking initiatives that contribute to the improvement of people’s livelihoods particularly at a local level. “UGO is doing a sterling job which serves as an inspiration to others,” Mr Munzhedzi added.

Mr Munzhedzi added that South Africa’s rich biodiversity has the ability to unlock the economic potential of the bioprospecting at wildlife economies. He further said the intervention by the Department of Environmental Affairs is in line with the 2030 national biodiversity economies strategy and it entails advances of the imperatives of the constitution and the national development plan.

He concluded by calling upon academic institutions like Univen to take their part in advancing research that informs an advance entrepreneurship in business development at local level.

We want people to acquire information from the experts- Maraganedzha

Mr Lindelani Maraganedzha, Executive Secretary of UGO, said the purpose of the conference was to offer people an opportunity to get knowledge around the issue of bioprospecting.

Let’s plant indigenous trees across South Africa- Mr Tshitwamulomoni

“Our programme educates the citizens about the environmental challenges and we create environment for students and graduates to participate in the economy”. These were the words uttered by Mr Talifhani Tshitwamulomoni, Executive Chairperson of UGO giving an overview of his organisation.

“We also engage in cleaning campaigns, environmental education and careers exhibition. Everyone must play a role in protecting the environment,” Mr Tshitwamulomoni concluded.

Let’s take care of the environment for future generations- Mr Matibe

Mr Khorommbi Matibe, Chief Director at the Department of Environmental Affairs, said the biodiversity economy of South Africa encompasses the business and economic activities that either directly depend on biodiversity for their core business or contribute to conservation of biodiversity through their activities.

Matibe said Limpopo is set to benefit immensely since it is a home to a number of species including but not limited to Ximenia Caffra (sour plum or Mutanzwa), Trichilia emetic (Mutshikili) and Adansonia digitate (baobab- Muvhuyu).

Mr Matibe further said that there is a need of unlocking the potential of small, medium and micro enterprises, cooperatives and township enterprises. “There are products in the local and international market with similar properties that indigenous plants could substitute to grow the market such as rooibos and aloe ferox,” alluded Matibe.

Matibe encouraged people to take care of the environment for future generations.

Be a specialist in what you do- Mr Mudzielwana

Mr Moudy Mudzielwana, Director of Tshikovha Graduates Academy, said the biggest obstacle for a local entrepreneur or business people is a lack of business skill that enables them to nurture ideas from concept to sustain their businesses. “Most emerging business people lack business skills and focus on pitching skills than actual business ideas,” echoed Mr Mudzielwana.

Mr Mudzielwana also said business is a platform to make profit where you have identified a gap. He said it can either be providing services or selling products. “Be a specialist in what you do and make customers to always want to come back to your company,” he expressed.

UGO require national exposure to inspire fellow youth- Mr Emmanuel Kganakga

Mr Emmanuel Kganakga, Deputy Director of Youth Mobilisation and Development Support in Department of Social Development, presented on ‘Challenges that are faced by youth in our country that lead to unemployment’.
Mr Kganakga echoed that black rural women are the face of poverty in South Africa and youth unemployment is at crisis proportions. “There is an increase in school and university drop-out rates and growing labour force and shrinking economy is causing unemployment,” alluded Mr Kganakga.

“We need more conferences such as this in South Africa and leaders like UGO require national exposure to inspire South African youth. We need to have targets for youth and women participation in enviropreneurship and the green economy,” Kganakga concluded.

Mr Levember said they are tasting oils for cosmetics aiming at commercialising them

Mr Ellis Levember from SA Essential Oil Business Incubator (SEOBI) who was also one of the presenters said people should analyse their current business model.

Mr Levember further said SEOBI is also testing the oils for cosmetics so that they can start commercialising. “We also test oils for CSIR, TUT, UFS, and for commercial farmers,” Mr Levember added.
The conference was also attended by government officials and traditional leaders.

Issued by:
Department of Communications & Marketing
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525
Date: 09 October 2017

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