This year, the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) in association with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), will be acting as outreach partners to London Business School in the world’s most prominent social business plan contest, the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC).
Turn your idea into a business
The aim of the competition is to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with mentoring, exposure, and prize money to turn their business ideas into real-world projects.
It aims to catalyze new sustainable ventures that address social issues, build awareness of social entrepreneurship and educate future leaders.
Business plans should have social benefits
“In a developing country with as high an unemployment rate as South Africa, it is particularly important that business plans carry social benefit,” says Gregory Macfarlane, MBA student at the GSB.
Macfarlane says that the GSVC educates communities on how to finance their ideas, while at the same time, providing a spark of inspiration to solve the rising youth unemployment rate, income inequality and poverty.
Faced with issues such as these, entrepreneurs have realised the importance of creating sustainable business plans and models that carry a benefit to society.
An example is FoodBank SA, a non-profit organisation that manages to feed 30 000 South Africans a year, and has achieved its success through applying business thinking to its challenges.
However, South Africa has few platforms through which aspiring social entrepreneurs can find funding and showcase their ideas.
Francois Bonnici, director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the GSB, says “Social entrepreneurship requires increasing awareness and education to get more people involved.
“Entrepreneurship is not only crucial in stimulating economic growth and job creation, but plays an important role in determining the future economic outlook of a nation.
“By developing sustainable business ideas into fruition, we can ensure benefit to the broader welfare of the country.”
The competition and its prizes
This year entrant teams from around the world will compete for US$50 000 in prizes while gaining valuable professional feedback on their business plans.
The Global Social Venture Competition takes place over three rounds: an executive summary round, regional finals, and the global finals which take place at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley (USA).
The southern African round
The southern Africa executive summary round is run through the GSB as the outreach partner for the London Business School to:
- South Africa.
Documents should be submitted by 16 November 2012.
Shortlisted teams will be notified by 23 November 2012 and invited to pitch their business plans before a panel of social entrepreneurship academics, SMME specialists, venture capital firms, foundations and angel investors.
A final list of five to 10 teams will be submitted to compete for a position in the regional finals at the London Business School in March 2013. These teams will be offered free business plan support and mentorship throughout the process.
Entrepreneurship In The Green Economy – Calling All Innovators
The water crisis in South Africa has been creeping up on us for years…but it can provide opportunities for entrepreneurial zeal.
Cape Town’s dire water crisis, after a three-year long drought fortunately averted by the recent rains, serves as a warning for the rest of South Africa. Johannesburg could face a similar crisis in the future, should its rainfall decrease for a few successive years. Tree-huggers have been warning us of this for years and have proposed solutions, but they can’t do it alone; business sector resources are needed to help solve these issues.
What most of us do is watch apprehensively as the water levels in dams drop, take shorter showers, set up grey water systems, grow water-wise gardens, wash our cars with buckets of water and imagine how we might survive a day zero. There are tangible things we can do to head off disaster – like finding innovative business solutions to environmental challenges.
For the past decade Avocado Vision’s Enterprise Development has supported the setup and operation of micro enterprises across South Africa with its Supplier and Enterprise development programmes which focus on equipping small, low-turnover businesses with business insights and acumen which enables them to become more sustainable and creating consistent and recurring incomes.
With Avocado Vision’s new business segment, the Green Business Value Chain unit, we aim to unlock the potential of developing micro and small business, with a focus on finding solutions to enhance employment, small business development, and job security in the environmental sector, particularly where efforts to influence water security and reduce alien invasive species are key outcomes.
Alien invasive species, typically from other countries, with no local natural enemies, growing unchecked in their millions, consume between 3% and 6% of South Africa’s useable water. They’re a very real threat to river and dam water levels – what we need to do is build a commercial demand for alien invasive plant biomass which will reduce the spread of alien plants, inject more money into sustaining the invasive-clearing activities and get businesses of all sizes involved.
Big business becomes the catalyst by creating the demand – the middle-sized entrepreneurs arrange new solutions to meet the demand, and small businesses link into the supply chains with invasive-clearing activities and meet the demand for the biomass material.
Right now we’re drowning in single-use plastic products – plastic straws, cutlery, lids (for the millions of cups of takeaway coffee) and polystyrene packaging for food, being a few. Currently no-one in South Africa is manufacturing bio-degradable alternatives – here is a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurial innovation to switch to using invasive biomass as raw material. Entrepreneurs are often the ones who hit on social problems and invent business solutions to solve them; the plethora of wild biomass can support decades of production, and it provides a solution to water security in our country.
Calling all innovative entrepreneurs – if you feel inspired to create something brilliant, check in with the Green Business Value Chain team at Avocado Vision, we’ll connect you to the support you need to make magic happen.
Opportunity For All Digital Entrepreneurs To Take Start-up To The Next Level
Entrepreneurs developing digital solutions on the African continent are invited to apply to the next Venture Incubation Programme – a partnership between telecommunications giant, MTN and the Solution Space based at the UCT Graduate School of Business.
The Solution Space, at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) is looking for 10 digital ventures to participate in the upcoming Winter School Venture Incubation Programme (VIP), which begins in September.
“This is an opportunity for innovation-driven entrepreneurs who are working on digital solutions to take their business to the next level,” says Sarah-Anne Alman, Manager at the Solution Space.
“The early-stages of a start-up are so critical and often the least supported time in the life-cycle of a start-up. We aim for maximum impact at this stage and for start-ups to leave our incubator with a thorough understanding of the fundamentals required for a viable solution.”
Run over 3 months with sponsorship and mentorship support from MTN, the Venture Incubation Programme provides participants with R300 000 worth of support. This consists of mentorship, advisory services, access to investor and corporate networks and workshops on business fundamentals such as marketing strategy and business model development. The programme has helped over 30 start-ups over the past two years.
MTN has shown significant investment in the start-up ecosystem on the continent and this incubation programme is a key platform for the company to engage with the latest emerging startups working on digital solutions that address broad-based needs across Africa. Stephen van Coller, MTN Group VP: Digital services, Data analytics & Business Development says.
“At MTN we are committed to driving the development of a bold new digital world. MTN’s dedicated teams are highly active in this Venture Incubation Programme to provide a strong connection between the startups developing the latest digital solutions and the expertise and resources existing within MTN”.
According to Kamogelo Kekana, co-founder of Akiba Digital, a mobile application for financial services and a current participant of the VIP Summer School, the programme really helps set up entrepreneurs for success.
“One big benefit is how the programme integrates you into the Cape Town start-up ecosystem.”
For fellow participant Rufaro Masiiwa, who is with Mkwereti, a data analytics platform for the agricultural sector, a highlight has been being challenged to test risky assumptions about business models early on during the 5 day design sprint. “There is so much access to a wealth of support and business acumen, as well as legal, financial and marketing help on the programme,” she says.
The programme also offers entrepreneurs an invaluable opportunity to connect with other start-ups on the same journey says Dhanyal Davidson, from the Digest, a financial media start-up for millennials as well as Prospa, a savings solution for low-income earning South Africans. “It keeps your energy high and gives you a sounding board when faced with both mental blocks and tough decisions.”
These and other start-ups who are participating in the VIP Summer School will showcase their business models at a Demo Day on 26 June 2018. “The event is designed to give them an opportunity to present to investors and corporate partners. It is also a chance for potential participants to come and have a look at what the programme is all about,” says Shiela Yabo, Co-ordinator at the Solution Space.
Yabo adds that since the inception of the VIP programme two years ago, the standard of the programme continues to go up, with the level of entrepreneurs joining being also very impressive. To qualify, start-ups must be working towards building a sustainable Africa through digital solutions, be committed to their business full-time, and be a team of at least two members.
“We focus on the early stage of the development process. Our aim is to get a business model validated and to see what is needed to turn it into a startup that is sustainable and scalable,” says Yabo. The programme is aiming to reach innovators in Fintech, IoT, Edtech, Agtech, e-commerce, entertainment and gaming as well as Healthtech.
Yabo adds, “One of the strongest aspects of the programme is connecting people within the right industry to networks for mutually beneficial relationships and collaborations. In many instances, that in itself, has been a major stepping stone to success for these participants.”
For more information or to apply to the VIP Winter School Programme visit http://gsbsolutionspace.uct.ac.za. Applications close on 1 July 2018.
To RSVP for the Demo Day: http://bit.ly/VIPSS18DemoDay
Digital Learning Game Breaks Entrepreneurial Barriers Among SA Youth
Schools around the country invited to enlist pupils to join the exciting 2018 Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship among the country’s youth is the key to reducing high levels of unemployment. This insight prompted the development of the Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge (AGEC), which aims to directly address unemployment using entrepreneurship as a vehicle for change, by cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship among high school learners and nurturing an entrepreneurial mind-set using gamification.
“To help grow the economy and move the country forward, South Africa needs more entrepreneurs. Yet, being a successful entrepreneur is not as easy as it seems. This Challenge exposes learners to the skills and outlook they will need to start their entrepreneurial journey and ultimately make a positive contribution to the country and the economy,” says Anthony Selley, Head of Gameplay at AGEC.
Currently in its second year, AGEC was established by long-term investment company Allan Gray and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation – a foundation committed to investing in the education and development of individuals with entrepreneurial potential in Southern Africa for the past ten years.
According to Selley, the six-week Challenge, available on mobile and web app will run from 1 August – 12 September.
“The Challenge uses digital learning to instil a culture of entrepreneurship in the minds of grades 8-12 learners. Furthermore, it educates learners on how best to act and think like entrepreneurs, while delivering a series of micro-challenges, which allows learners to apply new knowledge or concepts in real-world situations.”
Though entrepreneurship education has been on the rise, our understanding of entrepreneurship is limited and is not broadly defined. As such, the Challenge seeks to broaden the understanding of entrepreneurship amongst youth and highlight opportunities that youth can exploit.
New themes are introduced as part of the micro-challenges each week and learner performance is measured using a points system. Selley says more complex challenges are worth more points, but to reach the difficult phases, candidates need to pass the easy ones first. This year’s Challenges will be assessed using rubric-driven peer reviews conducted by participating students, moderated by teachers and fed into the scoring system. The accumulated points place the learner, their class and their school on a series of live leader boards.
The 2018 Challenge themes
- Social entrepreneurship
- Artificial intelligence
Selley adds that AGEC was developed in-line with the demands of the 21st century and the Fourth Industrial Revolution – an era marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields including robotics, artificial intelligence and blockchain.
During each challenge, participants will be exposed to a range of mind-sets, habits and concepts for entrepreneurs, as well to some of the latest tech developments. This process allows learners to re-imagine themselves and the world around them through experiential problem-solving learning.
“We believe that entrepreneurs are created and nurtured and the Challenge provides an opportunity to use new methods of encouraging as well as cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset in youth regardless of their chosen path. We see AGEC as a platform to nurture and inspire young entrepreneurs from various socio-economic backgrounds. It’s an opportunity for these youngsters to experience what entrepreneurship is about, and the great value that lies in it as a powerful vehicle for change in our country,” he notes.
One hundred schools, 4 500 pupils and 300 teachers participated in the 2017 Challenge. To-date, 200 schools have confirmed entry for the upcoming Challenge and more than 15 000 learner participants are expected.
Learner registration opens on 1 July 2018. For more information on how to enter visit www.entrepreneurshipchallenge.co.za. Entry is free and open to any and all learners and schools across the country.
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