A good education must not only provide students with the fundamentals, but also nurture the youth’s entrepreneurial spirit. And for a number of learners at Curro schools, the entrepreneurial flame seems to be burning brightly.
Teams from across South Africa competed in Curro’s annual national inter-school Entrepreneurship Competition, with the winning team announced at an event held yesterday at Curro Mount Richmore in KwaZulu-Natal.
After a tough day of business presentations and workshops, the Wax House team from St Dominics Newcastle were crowned champions. Their innovative candle-making kit, which allows one to reuse the wax from burnt candles, garnered much praise from the judges. The product is seen as being especially useful in rural and low-income households, with the company headed by Minette Janse van Vuuren and supported by Omera Ramdharee and Natasha Friend, who are all currently grade nine learners.
Not only does each member of the team walk away with a R1 000 cash prize and a power bank, but also marketing and branding expertise and assistance from the Curro Design Lab. The lab will assist in perfecting the team’s corporate identity, marketing material and social media presence. All five teams received a 45 minute mentorship session with the judges to discuss their business plans and glean insight from the panel’s astute knowledge.
Competition participants had to conceptualise a new venture and then submit a full business plan for evaluation, complete with information such as start-up costs, competition analysis and future growth opportunities. With 38 business plans submitted by more than 120 learners from 18 Curro schools, 11 teams made it through to the semi-finals, with only five teams eventually reaching the finals.
Minette Janse van Vuuren, leader of the Wax House team, relates that a power outage at home led to the idea of recycling candles.
“We were burning candles at home and a thought popped up, ‘What if we can use a candle twice?’” From there the idea for a candle-making kit grew, with the team burning the midnight oil working on their business plan.
The judges for the event were specially selected, consisting of Dr Ria du Plessis, MD of Jika Communications & Training; Adv Erin Richards, also a social entrepreneur; and seasoned entrepreneur Jamie Wyngaard, Director and Founder of The Agency.
Alta Greeff, Head of Research, Development and Innovation at Curro Holdings, was also on the panel. She believes the competition is crucial in establishing entrepreneurial fundamentals in learners. “It’s a brilliant opportunity for learners, whether they do business science or not, to have a platform where they can present a business idea to a panel of experts and get relevant input on what they can do to make it happen,” she notes.
Dr Du Plessis states South African learners are more risk averse than their international counterparts, but that competitions such as this enable them to understand the principles behind entrepreneurship. “Our goal is to push the learners a bit to take risks, to be a bit more daring. The Entrepreneurship Competition is vital in engaging learners’ critical thinking, problem solving skills and resilience,” she says.
One of the members of last year’s winning team is Richard Parry, now in grade 12, whose Grassroots iKhusi Project aimed to distribute sleeping bags made from recycled material to the homeless and poor. He believes the Curro Entrepreneurial competition proved to be immensely valuable, setting the course for the majority of his team to venture into business studies at university next year. After a number of television and newspaper appearances, the team is in discussions to take the project further next year, after finishing matric.
Greeff is adamant that entrepreneurial skills are what is necessary to thrive in the future. “With the threat of automation and certain jobs simply disappearing, learning what it takes to actually create jobs is essential. Curro’s Entrepreneurship Competition encourages learners to think differently and prepares them for what is lying ahead.” she concludes.
The other four finalists of the 2017 Curro Entrepreneurial Competition were:
1MOM – Curro Klerksdorp
For high school learners trying to juggle a busy schedule of homework, tests and extracurricular activities, time management should be top of mind. It is for this reason that the MOM app was developed, helping learners plan their day in order to achieve higher marks and still benefit from an eight-hour night of rest. The MOM team consists of Shaina Gossayn, Uzair Adam, Daniel Chedrawi and Tiago Silva.
2Melanin Sun Care – St Dominics Newcastle
Melanin Sun Care is an organic sunscreen made from natural ingredients. Unlike other sunscreens, Melanin Sun Care maintains your original skin tone when basking in the sun. Members of the team are Virna Makhudu, Zifiso Khumalo and Andile Kunene.
3Waiter Buzzer – St Dominics Newcastle
Ever tried to get the attention of a busy (or indolent) waiter? The Restaurant Accessories team solved this problem with the Waiter Buzzer, that directly notifies your waiter that you need his/her attention. Push the button at your table and your waiter is notified via a special wrist watch. The team consists of Sibongakonke Mbhele, Deah Oriee and Tally Lou.
4Hydro Wave – Curro Hazeldean College
Imagine being able to generate energy while drinking water from a bottle. Hydro Wave places a little hydroelectric turbine in your water bottle, which generates power that is saved to a battery. Afterwards it can be used to recharge your smartphone or other devices. The team behind the idea comprises Alysha Gurnell, Michela Graham, Phathu Matshidza and Tshego Bashele.