Launched busi­ness to cut the red tape

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - FEATURES - Luy­olo Mken­tane

FRUS­TRA­TIONS over red tape that in­ter­na­tional stu­dents en­counter in South Africa led to a mil­len­nial go-get­ter start­ing a com­pany aimed at cir­cum­vent­ing bu­reau­cracy.

Zim­bab­wean-born Bonke Ny­athi, who is now based in Joburg, says her ex­pe­ri­ences as an in­ter­na­tional stu­dent led her to for­mally reg­is­ter­ing her com­pany, In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent Hub, last year.

Ny­athi says she was driven by the need to help oth­ers who find them­selves in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances.

She had been help­ing in­ter­na­tional stu­dents ob­tain and com­ply with their study per­mits from 2014. Not once did she think she would fall vic­tim to the “sys­tem”.

How­ever, when she went to the VFS Visa and Per­mit Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre to re­new her study per­mit for the first time in 2015, she ne­glected to give her sec­ond name on the of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment form.

“The ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected and I had to pay another R1 750 to make a sec­ond book­ing. I was frus­trated with the whole process that I had to go through again,” she says.

With an es­ti­mated 40 000 to 45 000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa, Ny­athi says she saw a gap in the mar­ket.

The 27-year-old says South Africa is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents from African coun­tries, in­clud­ing Zim­babwe, Swazi­land, Botswana and Uganda.

“I know it’s a cliché, but I saw a gap in the mar­ket. We as­sist in­ter­na­tional stu­dents with the study per­mit re­newal process,” she says.

“We han­dle ev­ery­thing for them, from the le­gal pa­pers that need to be filled to the po­lice clear­ances and let­ters from the in­sti­tu­tions they will be study­ing at.

“It’s a long, costly process. But when it’s done cor­rectly it’s not hec­tic at all.”

Ny­athi says the busi­ness has been do­ing so well that she has signed con­tracts with the Pear­son In­sti­tute of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (for­merly Midrand Grad­u­ate In­sti­tute) and Var­sity Col­lege’s eight cam­puses across the coun­try.

Ny­athi, who de­scribes her­self as a go-get­ter, says she has also man­aged to help in­di­vid­ual in­ter­na­tional stu­dents from Rhodes Univer­sity in Makhanda (Gra­ham­stown) in the Eastern Cape.

“South African uni­ver­si­ties are a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents com­ing from the African con­ti­nent. I guess it’s the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion that draws them here,” says Ny­athi.

She adds she has been ap­proach­ing other in­sti­tu­tions of higher ed­u­ca­tion, es­pe­cially those lo­cated in ru­ral prov­inces such as Lim­popo and Eastern Cape.

“I’m look­ing at pro­vid­ing mo­bile ser­vices for their in­ter­na­tional stu­dents. I will be trav­el­ling across the coun­try and look­ing for new clients be­cause that’s the only way I can grow the com­pany.”

Ny­athi ad­mits that be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur is not a walk in the park.

“But I have had peo­ple around me, who are al­ready into en­trepreneur­ship, who have been more than will­ing to men­tor me.”

And with re­gards to her com­pany’s strat­egy for the next five years, Ny­athi says: “I see my­self trav­el­ling across the world and call­ing on in­ter­na­tional stu­dents to come and study at our in­sti­tu­tions here in South Africa.”

Bonke Ny­athi’s frus­tra­tions over red tape led to her start­ing her com­pany, the In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent Hub.

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