It’s a case of business unusual for these bright young UCT Upstarts
EIGHT student startup businesses from UCT have raised more than R1 million in funding in just three weeks to help improve education.
The startups are taking part in UCT Upstarts, the university’s annual social innovation challenge, which seeks to kick-start a new generation of entrepreneurs.
UCT Upstarts founder Gina Levy said the startups had focused on education this year, and the student-run businesses were “challenging business as usual”.
Levy said after the start-ups pitched their ideas to business people three weeks ago, they had together raised almost R1.2m in cash and “in kind” donations, such as mentorship and website design.
Pop Print, created by Boitumelo Dikoko, Nicholas Harrison, Mvelo Hlophe and Alex Knemeyer, plans to use receipt printers to create educational materials for primary school pupils, with a focus on improving maths and English.
Pop Print has produced an off- the- shelf mobile receipt printer, which uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone which has been loaded with puzzles and stories.
The team has printed examples of their educational receipts, which include things like maths puzzles or multilingual stories in Xhosa and Eng- lish.The stories will be translated from English to Xhosa by Xhosa fundis and volunteer translators.
Pop Print wants to roll out its idea at supermarkets and schools.
For students Cassandra da Cruz, Thandeka Chehore and Mihlali Dilima of Dadewethu (Xhosa and Zulu for “my sister”), pregnancy kits, tampons and sanitary pads are still too expensive and inaccessible to many university students.
They want to provide these products cheaply and easily.
“(The idea) started with me selling pregnancy tests on campus,” said Da Cruz, a secondyear chemical engineering student.
She said there was still a stigma around young women buying pregnancy tests, which she wanted to avoid by providing a service where she personally delivered them.
After Chehore, a secondyear civil engineering student, and Dilima, a third-year chemical engineering student, met Da Cruz at UCT Upstarts, the three expanded the scope of Da Cruz’s initial idea.
They added tampons, sanitary pads, condoms and lubricants to the items they sell.
The team, which refers to itself as a “social enterprise”, said that by not marking up their goods “exorbitantly”, they were able to sell them at two- thirds of the store price.
In an effort to make tampons more widely available, they have bought and refurbished an old gumball machine, which they have repurposed as an ATM – or an “automatic tampon machine”.
The machine sells “emergency packs” of tampons or sanitary pads at R5 and Dadewethu is in talks with the university to place it in a university bathroom permanently. firstname.lastname@example.org
An old gumball machine is used to sell emergency packs of tampons and sanitary pads.