From 12 – 14 June 2023, the Eurydice project dispatched three student teams, two from the Central University of Technology, Free State(CUT) and one from the Durban University of Technology (DUT). The teams consisted of nine student entrepreneurs who all went to participate in the Eurydice acceleration competition that was held in Limassol, Cyprus. During the acceleration competition, the students had an opportunity to network with a number of corporate leaders from entities such as Deloitte and some well-established businesspeople who shared their start-up business experiences. The CUT student entrepreneurs were selected from different teams such as the Just Energy Solutions (JUSI) and the Aphiwe Sigiba Team. While the DUT students came from Thinkelectric Team.
During this competition, some trainings focusing on converting an idea into a start-up business; various aspects of the prototyping process; business plan formulation; financial projections; legal paperwork; and pitching to investors took place. Moreso, the students are inclined to global discourse around the sustainable development goals as they have highlighted that their business ideas addressed the following sustainable goals: good health & wellbeing; clean water and sanitation; affordable & clean energy; and decent work & economic growth.
Whilst sharing their experiences, Miss Junia Lemphane of the Jusi Energy Solutions shared that from her participation in the competition not only did she learn the importance of having a vision and a teachable mindset, but she learnt to embrace more innovation which is one of the highly regarded values at the CUT. Junia also learnt that ‘an idea does not mean having a business’, because a lot of knowledge and tools have to be applied to create a viable business. Mr Simphiwe Mkhwanazi of the same team expressed that he aims to pursue a startup upon his graduation from university and will rely on the usage of technology and digital platforms to grow his enterprise. Whilst others declared their aspirations to pursue international business, there are also those who have declared that they have already began participating in local youth entrepreneurship picthing opportunities. Mr Siphamandla Mtelekiso of the Aphiwe Sogiba team exclaimed that he picked three key learnings such as embracing cultural diversity; perseverance; and leading a balanced work and personal life from this competition. Aphiwe Sogiba of the same team opined that regardless of one’s background, they can form part of any business and make a difference in the world. Though Mr Bongani was shocked at some of the cultural differences, he acknowledged that for one to be able to run a successful business internationally, they should try to be more open to learning about other cultures. Mr M. Ngobese shared that his experience at Limassol taught him the importance of attending talks, lectures and interacting with students from fields different than his, so he can be able to have a multidisciplinary approach to life. Therefore, he advises fellow students in other institutions of higher learning to be open-minded and intentional in the non-academic activities they participate in.
These student entrepreneurs aim to find more creative ways to raise funds such as tokenization, partnerships and crowd funding. All the five participants agree in unison that technology and some digital platforms play a major role in the growth of start-up business and help in marketing the business globally.