It’s a case of busi­ness un­usual for these bright young UCT Up­starts

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - JAN CRONJE

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. jan.cronje@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: SUPPLIED

An old gum­ball ma­chine is used to sell emer­gency packs of tam­pons and san­i­tary pads.

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