RU stu­dents aim­ing high

Grocott's Mail - - ECONOMIX - By SUE MA­CLEN­NAN

Chem­istry Masters stu­dent Zweli Hlatshwayo reck­ons stu­dents are among the most cre­ative thinkers around and he’s thrilled to be the 2017/18 Di­rec­tor of the Rhodes Univer­sity leg of the Hult Prize.

Satur­day is D-Day for Rhodes stu­dents vy­ing for recog­ni­tion in the world’s largest stu­dent test­ing ground for bud­ding so­cial en­trepreneurs. The an­nual com­pe­ti­tion for the Hult Prize has been named by TIME Mag­a­zine as one of the top five ideas chang­ing the world. Run in part­ner­ship with the United Na­tions, it runs for a year at a time, aim­ing to iden­tify and launch the most com­pelling so­cial busi­ness ideas – start-up en­ter­prises that tackle se­ri­ous is­sues faced by bil­lions of peo­ple. From more than 50 000 ap­pli­ca­tions re­ceived in a year, one win­ning team will re­ceive US$1 mil­l­lion in seed cap­i­tal, as well as men­tor­ship and ad­vice from the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness com­mu­nity.

Ideas are sourced from MBA and univer­sity stu­dents af­ter chal­leng­ing them to solve a press­ing so­cial is­sue on top­ics such as food se­cu­rity, wa­ter ac­cess, en­ergy, and ed­u­ca­tion. The Hult fam­ily – founders of Ed­u­ca­tion First do­nates US$1 mil­lion in seed cap­i­tal to help the win­ning team launch a so­cial en­ter­prise. The prize is a part­ner­ship be­tween Hult In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness School and the Clin­ton Global Ini­tia­tive (CGI).

“Stu­dents need to come up with ideas that not only ad­dress a so­cial chal­lenge, but also make money in the process to sus­tain lives – that’s part of the def­i­ni­tion of so­cial en­trepreneur­ship,” Hlatshwayo says. “The year be­fore last, a group had the idea of us­ing in­sects as food – some­thing a lot of us wouldn’t have thought pos­si­ble. It started slow and now it has a cash flow of R40m a year. They were able to achieve that with the sup­port of the US$1m that they won.

“It’s these kinds of seem­ingly sim­ple ideas, that could be avail­able to some­one sit­ting at home not do­ing any­thing. They can use those sim­ple ideas to make money. So here at Rhodes, stu­dents have the op­por­tu­nity to come up with ideas to solve a num­ber of prob­lems for the com­mu­nity of Gra­ham­stown.”

Ed­u­ca­tion is the first prob­lem to solve in Gra­ham­stown, Hlatshwayo says.

“Al­though some schools are do­ing very well, sev­eral aren’t in terms of pro­duc­ing stu­dents who don’t get through to Univer­sity.

“Poverty and un­em­ploy­ment are other prob­lems in Gra­ham­stown. Stu­dents could come up with ideas that un­em­ployed peo­ple could use to sus­tain them­selves, fi­nan­cially and oth­er­wise.”

Stu­dents are very cre­ative, Hlatshwayo reck­ons. “Un­til you give them the space to think, you may never re­alise how cre­ative they are.”

He says he’s con­fi­dence that Rhodes stu­dents are ca­pa­ble of win­ning the prize.

“I’ve spo­ken to a num­ber of en­trepreneurs here at Rhodes,” Hlatshwayo says. “The ideas are there. I’ve met a lot of bright minds at Rhodes from dif­fer­ent fields – com­merce, hu­man­i­ties, jour­nal­ism – they’re just amaz­ing stu­dents.

“I be­lieve suc­cess is when a great op­por­tu­nity meets great po­ten­tial and at Rhodes Univer­sity we have a lot of bright minds that have what it takes to change the world.”

As Hult Prize Cam­pus Di­rec­tor at Rhodes Univer­sity, Hlatshwayo’s job is to or­gan­ise and im­ple­ment a quar­ter­fi­nal round of the com­pe­ti­tion on cam­pus.

The com­pe­ti­tion will in­clude at least 10 stu­dent teams. The win­ning team goes through to one of 15 re­gional fi­nals hap­pen­ing around the world next March. One win­ning team from each host city will then move on to a sum­mer busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor, where par­tic­i­pants will re­ceive men­tor­ship, ad­vi­sory and strate­gic plan­ning as they cre­ate pro­to­types and set-up to launch their new so­cial busi­ness. A fi­nal round of com­pe­ti­tion will be hosted in Septem­ber 2018, when the win­ning team for $1m is an­nounced.

Hult Prize at Rhodes Univer­sity is re­cruit­ing vol­un­teers and teams in­ter­ested in reg­is­ter­ing for the com­pe­ti­tion. Stu­dents can use Pow­er­point – or any other form of pre­sen­ta­tion – to con­vince the judges that their idea should go through to the next phase.

More in­for­ma­tion: zwelih­latshwayo31@ gmail. com 084 037 2564 www.hult­prize. org.

Ad­di­tional source: https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hult_ Prize

Photo: Sue Ma­clen­nan

Chem­istry Masters stu­dent Zweli Hlatshwayo is Rhodes Cam­pus Di­rec­tor of the 2017/18 Hult Prize for so­cial en­trepreneurs.

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