The University of Venda (UNIVEN), in partnership with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), an agency of the Department of Small Business Development recently officially launched the UNIVEN Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation (UCfERI). The Centre was launched by the Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, the honourable Ms Dipuo Peters. The event marks a significant step towards a continued effort in fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development in Vhembe District, Limpopo Province.

The Deputy Minister showed excitement to be part of this historic moment and congratulated the University for this creativity in creating a platform where entrepreneurs could be injected with the enthusiasm to be entrepreneurs who should not take entrepreneurship as a last resort. The launch of the UNIVEN Centre for
Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation (UCfERI) was an essential step towards increasing business development support to reach all entrepreneurs across the country. The Deputy Minister indicated that the UCfERI presents the University of Venda graduates with an exit strategy that would propel them into economic activity through entrepreneurship. Honourable Ms Peters said, “It is a clear mindset shift from producing job-seeking graduates towards enterprising and job-creating graduates.”
She commended the University for identifying itself as a university at service. “This clearly shows that UNIVEN is unique and not a rural university, but a university based in the rural set up,” she said. “In addition, the launch of the UCfERI demonstrates the impact partnerships in the enterprise development sector can produce.” She cautioned attendees that enterprise development is not only the responsibility of the Department of Small Business Development and its agencies, but a responsibility of all sectors of society, including institutions of higher learning with whom we have built strong partnerships through our incubation and accelerator programme.
The Deputy Minister alluded that this centre would play a significant role not only to the students, graduates, and staff members of the university but to the broader community across the Vhembe District. It is expected to drive economic growth and transformation in this district and Limpopo Province. She highlighted that this centre would provide much-needed business development and technical support to enable entrepreneurs to take advantage of existing economic opportunities.

UCfERI has been established as part of Seda’s incubation footprint of over 110 incubators across the country, to serve the University and the community at large, drawing from the broader strategic thrust captured under the UNIVEN 2021-2025 Strategy and the UNIVEN Integrated Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Biodiversity Plan (UIEIBP).
She stated that the UCfERI, would assist the University to establish vital partnerships, fostering collaborations, and become part of the SMME ecosystem to accelerate the growth of start-ups and businesses owned by staff, students, and the wider local community. Moreover, the UCfERI would be dedicated to cultivating an entrepreneurial culture and empowering individuals and SMMEs with the knowledge and skills essential for success in an ever-evolving global economy.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services of the University of Venda, Dr Robert Martin said the University prides itself not to be a rural University, but a university based in a rural area. “We are excited that we want to show the world that a rural based university can assist its local entrepreneurs and the world at large. We are at the right place where great minds wish to be,” said Dr Martin when welcoming the guests.

L-R: Mr Billy Bokako, Ms Shumani Nembudani, Ms Dipuo Peters andProfr Bernard Nthambeleni

The Chairperson of the UCfERI, Ms Hwalani Mabaso shared success stories and celebrating milestones and impact of the centre. She pointed that the vision of the
centre aspires to become a pioneering hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, propelling economic growth, fostering sustainable businesses, and nurturing a culture of entrepreneurship that resonates both locally and globally.
In his message of support, SEDA Senior Manager Incubation, Mr Billy Bokako applauded UNIVEN for keeping the promise of creating opportunities for upcoming entrepreneurs. “We are happy to witness UNIVEN coming to the party, contributing to the country’s mission of creating jobs for all.”
Other message of support came from the Director of Kevinot Farming, Ms Nonopa Tenza who is involved in farming in the Eastern Cape Province. Ms Tenza said, “If
education is not helping our communities, it should not exist.” She encouraged the attendees to give back to their communities.
In his closing remarks, UNIVEN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Bernard Nthambeleni mentioned that the context for this Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation arose from our guiding framework for transformative socio-economic impact and sustainable development which we refer to as the UNIVEN Integrated Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Biodiversity Plan. “This UNIVEN Integrated Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Biodiversity Plan is our visionary roadmap seeking to redefine our institution’s role in the higher education landscape.” The Vice- Chancellor and Principal continued to say that, at the heart of this plan lies our dedication to prepare our undergraduate and postgraduate students for a world that demands academic knowledge, essential business skills and a spirit of entrepreneurship.
He indicated that the country’s economy is struggling, and we are facing a deep and serious economic crisis of our lifetime. Unemployment rate is the talk of the day in every corner of the country. Prof Nthambeleni further indicated that the country’s productivity rate is low, and exports have reached the bottom as the manufacturing industry has dwindled. He indicated that the solution to this country’s economic challenges can only be found in nurturing an entrepreneurial culture, a spirit of self-reliance and meritocracy. “Our centre is designed to empower aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators to improve the situation in the country.”
Prof Nthambeleni mentioned that the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation is a testament to our commitment to fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. “We will provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools, mentorship, and
access to networks that are crucial for turning their visions into reality. Our Rapid Incubation centre will be a hub of creativity and collaboration, where ideas will be nurtured, refined, and transformed into successful businesses. This centre is not just about business; it is about the people behind the ideas, individuals who are passionate, resilient, and ready to take risks. It is about the dreamers, the visionaries, and the doers who will shape the future.”

On photo: Hon Dipuo Peters in conversation with one of the exhibitors

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 / 8710

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