Fifteen Entrepreneurs Honoured in Business School Champions Programme

The Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s Regional Local Economic Development Initiative celebrated the success of its Champions Programme with 15 social entrepreneurs being honoured for their hard work and contribution towards their communities.

The Champions Programme is a social entrepreneurship development intervention offered to social entrepreneurs to accelerate and extend changes in their communities across KwaZulu-Natal.

The programme is fully funded by the Provincial Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department and offered in partnership with the LED Unit of the Business School.

The year-long programme saw selected social entrepreneurs spend two days per month at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) being exposed to cutting-edge thinking and innovative practices in social entrepreneurship across the major areas required for the development and scaling of their enterprises.

The 15 participants honoured were: Mr Sbusiso Blani (Media entertainment and music), Mr Zamokuhle Cele (Marketing and website design), Mr Mzwandile Duma (Farming), Mr Sandile Hadebe (Cleaning and gardening services), Mr Nkosinathi Jali (Precast/manufacturing and sand mining), Mr Sandile Mdletshe (Community development and agriculture), Ms Hellen Mtshali (Clothing and design), Mr Thanduxolo Ncane (Consulting company), Ms Hlengiwe Nkonde (Vegetable farming), Ms Nombuso Ngubane (Skills development), Mr Sifiso Kenneth Ngubane (Agriculture), Mr Thembani Nqweniso (Creative designs and skills development), Mr Nkosinathi Phungula (capacity development), Ms Cynthia Shinga (Internet café) and Mr Sandile Sithole (Tyres and glass).

The School’s academic and facilitator of the Champions programme, Professor Shahida Cassim said it has been an honour to see the fruit of their investment and how the programme has significantly grown over the 10 years of existence.

‘As I reflect back to when we started with the 15 projects here today, I remember how impatient I sometimes got because of how small the champions were thinking – they possessed so much potential but held back. Today I am extremely proud of the work they have invested in their projects, and how much they have positively contributed to their communities. Thank you for carrying the Champions banner so high.’

Judges identified the top three business cases. They were: (1) Ms Nombuso Ngubane, a social entrepreneur and change maker who encourages the youth and women in the rural Ugu district on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast through skills development; (2) Mr Mzwandile Duma, who owns a farming consultancy and also mentors young people who have an interest in farming; (3) Ms Cynthia Shinga, a business woman who opened an internet café which is free to the youth of Umzumbe. Shinga also brings community members together to engage in agriculture, sewing and arts using recycling materials.

Prizes were sponsored by Ithala Bank, Al Baraka Bank and Awqaf South Africa.

For more information on the Champions Programme visit: http://rledi.ukzn.ac.za/projects/champions-2017

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga 

Photograph: Itumeleng Masa