In a momentous occasion that resonated with the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, Vhutshilo Maeba, a Final Year student at the University of Venda (UNIVEN), represented the UNIVEN at the ABSA Summit Gala Dinner that took place on 16 April 2024. By exploring how Blockchain Technology can be leveraged to solution for a responsible digital payments system that empowers unbanked communities, paving a way for a more inclusive financial future, secured Vhutshilo 3rd place in the prestigious and inaugural Digital Innovation Competition. This event brought together industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and students from Historically Disadvantaged Institutions, providing a platform to showcase groundbreaking ideas and foster collaboration within the payment acceptance ecosystem. Vhutshilo’s journey to success is nothing short of inspiration. He has demonstrated remarkable resilience, creativity, and determination in pursuing his passion for innovation. Vhutshilo told us that winning third place at ABSA’s Digital Innovation Competition was a whirlwind. “Honestly, when I received the news, I was speechless. It was not just about the recognition, but the validation that my idea – a responsible digital payment system for unbanked communities – had the potential to make a real difference.” He added that whilst third place is an incredible achievement, the true reward lies in the journey itself. This
competition ignited a deeper fire within him to contribute to building a more inclusive financial landscape. Vhutshilo highlighted how ABSA’s commitment to empowering young innovators has given him immense hope for the future. “Thank you, ABSA, for providing this unforgettable platform and the opportunity to be a part of something truly transformative.”

Supported and nurtured by dedicated mentors and faculty members from the Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, he honed his skills and channelled his creativity towards developing an innovative solution through blockchain to real-world challenges. His entry into the competition highlighted the departments unwavering commitment to making a meaningful impact in the digital landscape; and Vhutshilo’s journey serves as a source of inspiration for aspiring students, innovators, showcasing that with
dedication, hard work, and perseverance, anything is possible.

As we celebrate Vhutshilo’s remarkable achievement, we also recognise the pivotal role played by UNIVEN through the implementation of Strategic Objectives in Strategic Thrust Two in nurturing his talent and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. By providing a supportive environment and equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the digital age, UNIVEN continues to empower the next generation of leaders and changemakers.

Vhutshilo feels that this experience through the ABSA Banks Digital Innovation has now sparked a renewed sense of purpose in his pursuit of success in the fintech landscape. He is eager to dive deeper, refine his ideas, and collaborate with others who share this vision of financial inclusion for all. “The future of finance is bright, and I’m determined to be a part of shaping it, one innovative solution at a time” remarked Mr Maeba. As we look towards the future, let us continue to celebrate and support the endeavours of young entrepreneurs like Vhutshilo, whose innovative spirit and drive for success embody the essence of UNIVEN’s commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and improving on Student Graduateness.

The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation (UCfERI) stands ready to strengthen Vhutshilo Maeba’s entrepreneurial journey following his remarkable achievement. Through tailored mentorship programs, access to resources, and strategic industry collaborations, the UCfERI will is positioned to provide Vhutshilo with the necessary guidance and support to further develop and refine his innovative ideas and transform them into impactful ventures.

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Cell: 082 868 2218 or 082 868 1811

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