To strengthen its Strategic Objectives, the University of Venda is on a journey to reposition itself as an entrepreneurial service hub for the purpose of creating an entrepreneurial culture amongst its students, staff, and surrounding communities. This will allow the University to contribute in both the local and regional economic development because Entrepreneurship is vital in reducing crippling poverty and unemployment. Universities over the past couple of years have been tasked with creating an entrepreneurial culture.

As we are celebrating Women’s month, the University of Venda deemed it fit to launch the Women in Entrepreneurship Programme. The launch, which was attended by both staff and students, as well as members from the communities, took place on 19 August 2022 at the UIGC Seminar Room. 

The aim of the Women in Entrepreneurship Programme was two-fold, namely, to spark a desire to be an entrepreneurial, to establish a university-community mentorship, programme and build spaces for innovation and upscaling businesses for rural women entrepreneurs. Furthermore, it aims to equip women with necessary skills to set them on a path of becoming resilient entrepreneurs. 

Prof Vhonani Netshandama – Director Community Engagement

The Director Community Engagement , Prof Vhonani Netshandama as the facilitator of the programme, highlighted that having a degree only is not enough today. As Community Engagement, we assist students to learn outside of their classroom/degrees to ensure that they gather other smart skills to make them a well-rounder decent human being who can thrive in life. Prof Netshandama indicated that as a Directorate they make sure that they create community programmes that enable students to work with communities in order to get hands on experience. “For the past 20 years, I have worked in community engagement, if I go out with 10 students for community engagement activities, only two or three would be females. The Women in Entrepreneurship programme is also encouraging young girls to do things for themselves. Therefore, as a University servicing students, staff and the surrounding communities, there is a huge role for us to mentoring young women and girls. The proportion of females to males who are participating in entrepreneurial activities is still tilted to males. It is therefore important for the University to take cognisance of the need for these kinds of holistic support programmes and the role that involvement in community engagement may play. It is going to take the village-all of us to grow entrepreneurs. Delegates were encouraged to recruit more young females into the programme and to invite potential mentors to come to the fore. 

The efforts to boost entrepreneurship are vital. It is for this background that the University, through the Directorate of Community Engagement, under the leadership of Prof Vhonani Netshandama, invited a well-known woman Entrepreneur with multiple businesses, Mrs Humbelani Netshandama to motivate, encourage and continue to empower women, especially the young females. Mrs Netshandama gave an energising and reviving presentation. The session was about learning and growing around and within the entrepreneurship space. 

Mrs Humbelani Netshandama

Mrs Humbelani Netshandama emphasised that she loves speaking to the youth because there is still hope in their lives. Mrs Netshandama encouraged young women and older women that it is never too late to start a business. “Start developing ideas in business, and entrepreneurship should be a matter of a necessity if we want to win this battle as women”. She advised women to instil the spirit of saving the little money that they get. “You need your own wealth for your financial independence. Financial wealth is essential. We cannot speak of economic development while we are still fenced in poverty and relying on government grants. In whatever you are doing, you must make sure that you are getting money. You can be anything in life and don’t be shy to fail in life”, said Mrs Netshandama. 

Dr Azwifaneli Nemushungwa – Lecturer – Department of Economics – Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law

When rendering the purpose of the gathering, Dr Azwifaneli Nemushungwa who is a Lecturer in the Department of Economics, under the Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law at UNIVEN, defined Women in Entrepreneurship as a process in which women initiate, lead, own and organise an enterprise and give employment to others (economic growth) and also contribute in improving the standard of living for their families (economic development). 

She outlined the mission of the Women in Entrepreneurship Programme which is to inspire and support women interested in entrepreneurship through a collaborative, innovative and empowering network. The vision of this programme is to empower and reinforce them by enhancing the knowledge and spark a desire to be entrepreneurs, by providing opportunities to develop their entrepreneurial skills. 

Dr Nemushungwa further highlighted that the means to achieve these goals will be done through hosting speakers; having panel discussions and small group talks; networking opportunities to increase their professional capacity and; developing a support system as well as providing cross disciplinary perspectives for collaboration to take off. 

Ms Mpho Mobu – Programme Leader – Women in Entrepreneurship.

Guests were welcomed by Ms Mpho Mobu who is a Programme Leader in Women in Entrepreneurship. 

Dr Shonisani Ramashia – Head of the Department – Food Science and Technology – Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture

The Head of the Department of Food Science and Technology in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture at the University of Venda, Dr Shonisani Ramashia in her words of support, said every woman can be a game changer and move mountains. She indicated that she was inspired by the women in entrepreneurship. She showed that she wants to assist every woman to finish their Masters and PhDs. “Come and knock at our doors, we will walk the journey together. 

Towards the end of the launch, young women from different fields including those coming from communities, pitched their brilliant business ideas. 

Ms Shumani Nembudani – Senior Lecturer – Department of Accountancy – Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law

A Senior Lecturer, Social Entrepreneur and Qualified Chartered Accountant from the Department of Accountancy, in the Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law, UNIVEN, Ms Shumani Nembudani spoke of different means of making money. She gave examples of innovative business ideas that the young women should be thinking of such as Turo, a carsharing company that allows for private car owners to rent out their vehicles while they are at work. “Imagine the beauty of making your car generate you another stream of income while you are at work. “Whatever you do you must always make sure you are making money in the process, especially with the cost of living going up year on year”, said Ms Nembudani. 

Ms Lerato Mashilo – PhD candidate – Microbiology

Ms Lerato Mashilo who is a PhD candidate in Microbiology, proposed a vote of thanks. She encouraged young women present not to let an opportunity to pass them. She said entrepreneurship must come with a solution of the problem identified. Lerato advised that to be an entrepreneur does not come in a silver platter, there are risks involved. “As an entrepreneur you become a researcher”, said Lerato. She further said “As we continue to celebrate Women’s month, as a microbiologist, I know and regard women as incubators, hence they give safety. 

In conclusion she said she salutes UNIVEN for changing gear towards entrepreneurship. 

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding & Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 29 August 2022 

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