Worldwide, innovation and entrepreneurship are known to enhance economic performance. Innovation hubs are physical environments that support individuals and communities at various stages of development. Strategic Thrust 2 of the UNIVEN Strategic Plan 2021-2025 is designed to foster entrepreneurship and innovation. 

Dr Bernard Nthambeleni (Left) and Thovhele Ramovha (right) exchanging the signed MoU

As part of UNIVEN’s drive towards ‘a University leading in engaged scholarship’, on Thursday, 04 August 2022, the University of Venda (UNIVEN) and Mulenzhe Development Trust held the Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) ceremony to cement their relationship. This signing of the MoU ceremony took place at Mulenzhe Traditional Authority (Mulenzhe Village). 

The innovation hub will be a hive of activity with the following responsibilities: workshops, seminars, and training on business development, legal and financial management, as well as agricultural matters. Thus, the University of Venda has taken the initiative to partner with the Mulenzhe Development Trust to achieve this objective. 

Vice-Chancellor and Principal – Dr Bernard Nthambeleni

When addressing Mulenzhe Development Trust delegates led by Thovhele Ramovha, UNIVEN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni said universities were not built to work for themselves, they exist to serve their communities. He said all universities should address challenges of their local communities. Dr Nthambeleni continued to mention that universities exist to work for the society. “Universities should provide relevant contextualised solutions for their local communities.” Amongst other things, Dr Nthambeleni spoke about some of the objectives of this MoU where he mentioned that this is part of poverty alleviation, bridging higher levels of inequality and to address the issue of food security to ensure that people don’t go to bed with empty stomachs. 

“UNIVEN’s Strategic Plan 2021-2025 is clear about what we want to achieve within our communities. We have developed this strategic plan to teach our students on how to start their own businesses than to look for jobs.” 

Thovhele Ramovha

Thovhele Ramovha said the government doesn’t see traditional leaders as the arm that should be used to develop rural areas and to create the economy that will assist to fight job scarcity. “We don’t have to complain about municipalities and the government anymore. We have agreed with our people that we need to provide services to ourselves. He said Mulenzhe Development Trust and its community members have managed to secure 518 hectares that will be developed, and it has been planned to generate about R1.4 b per annum. This money will be used to assist our people to develop their villages. “We have a programme of an Estate that needs a lot of megawatts of power/electricity. After realising that our country has shortage of electricity, we then secured a farm that will assist to generate electricity for these projects through installation of solar panels. This programme will also assist at the airport that will be developed in the area.” 

Thovhele Ramovha continued to mention that the University need to have a commercial arm which will assist in all areas of these projects. “We don’t need to do partnerships with people from very far from here. All these projects will need maintenance. Maintenance will be done by our people. We have developed an area where we will train our people in all components to create jobs. Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) were also invited to provide trainings to our people who will maintain the infrastructure of these projects. We want to create a very serious value chain to assist the local economy to sustain itself. We have started to do some investments that will assist us to raise funds for these projects.” 

We really appreciate the relationship that we have with the University. He thanked the support that the University of Venda is giving them and said that the University has a lot of intellectuals who should bring their brains in to these projects. “We don’t have to outsource services while the University is here to assist. Although there is still a lot that need to be done but a lot has been achieved. Let’s work together to make these projects successful. Telkom is bringing free Fibre to assist our communities,” he said. 

University Registrar – Advocate Edward Lambani

When introducing Thovhele Ramovha, University Registrar, Advocate Edward Lambani indicated that there should be economic development in this area, a lot need to be achieved to boost the local economy.

Director Community Engagement – Prof Vhonani Netshandama

When giving the background of the relationship between UNIVEN and Mulenzhe Development Trust, Director Community Engagement, Prof Vhonani Netshandama said UNIVEN and Mulenzhe Development Trust had the first MoU which expired while other projects were still in progress. Prof Netshandama said this is an opportunity to continue working together but this time around, we will operate on a different model because we are addressing different challenges that need different approach. “This is to say we are bringing a lot of experts in various fields who will support this partnership with Mulenzhe Development Trust.” 

Director: Legal Services – Adv Eric Nemukula

The signing of the MoU was facilitated by Adv Eric Nemukula. Adv Nemukula said this MoU is going to be beneficial to both UNIVEN and Mulenzhe Development Trust and their communities. 

Mr Zacharia Tshikukuvhe

Giving a vote of thanks was Mr Zacharia Tshikukuvhe who said that they are blessed to have people from the University who are willing to come to the party, making sure that all communities are being taken care of. “We have skills development training centre to equip our people with skills to ensure that this MoU will not sit in the files to gather dust. The ball is on our court now, we will take the dream further with the University to make sure that it becomes a success,” concluded Mr Tshikukuvhe. 

Mr Matodzi Edward Mashau

Director Marketing, Branding and Communication – Dr Takalani Dzaga.

A welcome address was done by Mr Matodzi Edward Mashau on behalf of VhaVenda Vho Khamusi Ramovha while the programme was directed by the Director Marketing, Branding and Communication, Dr Takalani Dzaga. 

A group photo of UNIVEN delegation led by Dr Bernard Nthambeleni and Mulenzhe Development Trust team led by Thovhele Ramovha

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding & Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 05 August 2022 

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