A call to entry for the most prestigious Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2022 kicked off with a resounding roar last Thursday, 24 February.
A total of 230 students from all 26 South African universities logged in to be inspired, hear the criteria for entry and connect with one another before this make-or-break round. This is one of the most important entrepreneurship competitions in the country because it lasts all year and supports students – who advance through the various stages of the competition – step by step.
In November, those who will make it to the last round of the competition will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges. Four finalists could be winners in each of these categories: Business ideas, Existing Business: Tech, Social Impact and General. Event host, Mr Sandile Shabalala, who is the Senior Student Engagement Officer at EDHE, urged studentpreneurs to formalise their business ideas and enter immediately.
The 2022 edition is unique
Dr Norah Clarke (below), Director: EDHE at Universities South Africa (USAf) opened the virtual gathering of the fourth Annual EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity. She explained that EDHE is a programme of the Department of Higher Education and Training being implemented in partnership with Universities South Africa (USAf) – the representative organisation of South Africa’ 26 public universities.
She mentioned that although commercial competitions abound in South Africa, “none of them achieve what we aim to achieve through this specific competition.” Pointing out the value of working closely with the EDHE team on this journey, she explained: “Our purpose is to identify YOU, the really special student entrepreneur in your university. We want to find out about YOU, about your business.” She also added that the Intervarsity had become “a big thing on our national universities calendar, and definitely a big thing for student entrepreneurship in the country.”
At this point, she told attendees, it was likely that their university did not know about them or their business. “We want to shine the spotlight on you and see you and your business grow through this competition.”
Dr Clarke said the competition was not just about the prize money. It was rather about identifying future business leaders at South Africa’s higher education institutions. “Through the competition, we make sure that your businesses get the support we’d like to see them have in a country and an economy that is only set to grow from this point on.”
Advising on where to position themselves in the competition, Dr Clarke told budding studentpreneurs: “I know you see yourself in the future doing big things through business. You might be thinking of participating in Category One: Business Ideas where we identify those potential student businesses. Or you might have an existing business that you can enter with, in one of our other three categories: Tech, Social Impact, and General. Just know that if you are a registered student there is a place for you in this competition.”
While UCT was the overall winning university for two years in a row, Dr Clarke was at pains to point out that in 2020, University of Venda claimed that space when its student, Promise Nyalungu, won the Existing Business, Social Impact category. That year, he was named National Student Entrepreneur for his business Struu Artzz Entertainment, a performing arts group that has grown into a media and entertainment company.
She added that the 2021 Category One winner for Ideas was Tinus Potgietier, then a final year mechanical engineering Masters student at North-West University and the only man who won in any category in 2021. His company, BlomSkok Technologies, came up with an early warning drone system (against possible attack) for farmers.
Dr Clarke told the budding studentpreneurs that for the first time, last year, the Existing Business – Tech category was won by a student woman. Chido Dzinotyiwei, from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, founded Vambo Academy, an educational technology platform using digital resources to offer language learning, translation and knowledge services. Dr Clarke said she was proud that 16 of the 28 finalists in 2021 were women.
She singled out the Category Four, Existing Business: General winner Mashoto Mphahlele, a final year media studies student at University of Limpopo who won for her Allergy Foundation approved skin care product business. She told the students that there were no barriers holding them back. “I want to encourage you to go all out; have fun, learn as much as you can and build that business network of the future. Use this opportunity to grow – yourself and your business.”
The EDHE Director applauded those whose efforts make this event possible, individuals she referred to as “the giants in the annual EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity”. She mentioned that these student entrepreneurship coordinators had just had a two-day workshop with the EDHE team, to ensure common understanding on the best way to support the students along this journey. “Use them,” she urged the students, emphasising that these were knowledgeable, on-campus members of the EDHE team. She said students would do well to use them as resources available to them throughout the year to optimise their chances of winning the Studentpreneur of the Year Award for 2022.
Visit the EDHE website for more information on the competition categories, conditions for entering, prizes up for grabs, the adjudication process and how to apply, visit the EDHE website: