Increasingly, the need for equipping University staff, students and members of the society in general with entrepreneurial skills as a strategy for offering more relevant curricula, taking advantage of business opportunities, creating employment and producing development-oriented leaders is gaining momentum. Partly, this is the reason why the University of Venda (UNIVEN) saw it fit to adopt entrepreneurship as one of the four key thrusts of its strategic plan, 2021-2025. To enhance the chances of achieving an entrepreneurial culture and producing a critical mass of competent change agents who can help realize the objectives articulated above, it is necessary to mount relevant capacity enhancement programmes.
From 9-11 April 2022, the UNIVEN Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Corporate Services hosted a workshop at The Ranch Hotel near Polokwane. Nineteen (19) people participated in the workshop. They comprised senior and junior academic staff, postgraduate students pursuing Master and Doctoral degree programmes, and representatives of grassroots communities drawn from some Communal Property Associations and Traditional Authorities in Vhembe District.
Welcoming the participants and opening the workshop, Dr Robert Martin (DVC Corporate Services) tendered the following eloquent explanation of what entrepreneurship entails.
“…..The purpose of this workshop is to assist us colleagues to co-develop our own UNIVEN-branded entrepreneurship short learning programmes. This is important because we must try to demystify entrepreneurship given that most of us invariably get stuck with the common understanding that entrepreneurship is about only starting and operating businesses. Whilst this is its primary focus, we must not ignore the fact that individuals can be entrepreneurs in their respective workplaces. Thus, our starting point should be to ensure that we build proper entrepreneurial orientation or entrepreneurial thinking in individuals and groups of people. This is important because the people concerned become better equipped to face and deal with finding solutions in a creative manner to still meet our objectives within an environment of limited resources and diverse challenges. In brief, our focus is to ensure that we demystify entrepreneurship thereby enabling staff, students and external stakeholders we work with to become solution seekers. By so doing, we make it possible to fast track UNIVEN’s transformation and become an Entrepreneurial University.”
During the highly interactive workshop, seven short learning programmes were codeveloped:
- Entrepreneurship for children in grades R-12;
- Women in entrepreneurship;
- Entrepreneurship for youth;
- Entrepreneurship for academics;
- Entrepreneurship for grassroots development;
- Social entrepreneurship, and
- Awareness campaigns for active involvement in entrepreneurial work.
The programmes will be finalised, and quality assured through the UNIVEN Centre for Continuing Education, which is the short learning programme unit of the UNIVEN Innovative Growth Company (UIGC).
Throughout the workshop, the participants highlighted the need for creating awareness of the entrepreneurial programmes to enable potential learners or trainees to make informed decisions. Thus, a team of Entrepreneurship Student Ambassadors (Mr Faranani Mabada: President of ENACTUS UNIVEN, Ms Mulalo Maumela: Master of Commerce student, and Mr Ranganai Chidembo: PhD in Rural Development candidate) were tasked to develop an action plan for use in enhancing entrepreneurship awareness and presence on the UNIVEN campus and beyond. The team was concerned with the poor participation of students and unemployed youth in communities in entrepreneurial activities. To address this challenge, Entrepreneurship Ambassadors will be recruited and mentored within on-going university programmes such as the Student Training for Entrepreneurship Promotion (STEP), Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE), Intervarsity Competitions, ENACTUS UNIVEN and Entrepreneurship week. Furthermore, there are plans to implement a robust, hybrid digital-physical communication and marketing strategy that includes door to door engagements, radio presentations, coemptions, Short Messaging Systems, Emails, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tik Tok, Instagram and Facebook, among others. An entrepreneurship-focused Help Desk with an Economic Activation Office will be established. Meanwhile, for some opportunities that might be of interest to you, please check this out! https://entrepreneur.wfglobal.org/ignite–africa/
It is worth highlighting that the presence of individuals drawn from some Traditional Authorities and Communal Property Associations helped clean the perspectives of the university campus community representatives. These ecosystem partner representives were Ms Masindi Ramabulana (who owns Singo Enterprise and other enterprises in the tourism and hospitality industry), Mr Thilivhali Bethuel Ravele (Secretary of the Ravele Community Property Association (CPA) who shared insightful broader CPA perspectives) and Ms Zwivhuya Tshivhase (a youth owning the Ndinne Events catering company).
Based on the highly illuminating and sobering inputs that ecosystem partners or external stakeholders made, there was an overwhelming view among participants that the workshop was unique, groundbreaking and was facilitated in a creative way that should inform other UNIVEN processes, in line with what is expected actualizing the key elements of the student-centredness and engaged scholarship thrust of the UNIVEN strategic plan, 2021-2025. Some of the key lessons the participants learnt during the workshop were:
- It proved to be an effective co-learning opportunity in which the UNIVEN academics and Senior Managers in particular listened and engaged the target groups when developing learning materials;
- There is need to demystify entrepreneurship, ensuring that the general view that it mainly deals with business development is not the only element that lies at its heart;
- Design thinking and growth mindset should be infused into co-learning about entrepreneurship;
- It is crucial to mobilize students and community members who have passion for local economic development, entrepreneurship and/or a desire to start their own business first as learners in the short learning programmes that were developed. Thus, the team committed to mobilize students owning businesses, encompassing sole proprietorship, partnership or venturing into a public or private company to participate.
Department of Marketing, Branding & Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 / 8710
Date: 25 May 2022