In­no­va­tor scoops R250 000 in Youth En­tre­pre­neur Awards

African Times - - Business - AYANDA MDLULI

ENTREPRENEURIAL in­no­va­tion took cen­tre stage at the in­nagutal Inkunzi Awards in KZN last week. Fol­low­ing a rig­or­ous ad­ju­di­ca­tion process which saw the top eight fi­nal­ists pre­sent­ing their busi­ness con­cepts to a panel of judges, Tr­ever Colvelle from Bul­wer in KwaZulu-Natal’s Mid­lands re­gion took first po­si­tion in this year’s Inkunz’ i se mat hole ni Youth in Busi­ness Com­pe­ti­tion.

Ithala Devel­op­ment Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion which spear­heads the pro­gramme said the de­ci­sion was largely in­flu­enced by the so­cial impact of the in­no­va­tion.

Inkunz’ i se mat hole ni at­tracts youth with in­no­va­tive and sus­tain­able busi­ness con­cepts and pro­vides in­cu­ba­tion and start-up in their jour­ney to be­com­ing sea­soned en­trepreneurs.

Out of a to­tal of 198 en­tries, Colvelle was se­lected for his in­ven­tion of the So­lar Nexus, a fold­able so­lar charg­ing de­vice that can power a heater, ra­dio, TV and lights in your home, thereby elim­i­nat­ing the need for bat­ter­ies, paraf­fin stoves and open fire cook­ing which can be haz­ardous.

The wa­ter­proof de­vice opens into the shape and size of a golf um­brella which can be used for pro­tec­tion from ad­verse weather con­di­tions and si­mul­ta­ne­ously to charge your power bank as a ready-to-use power sup­ply by the time you ar­rive home.

Colvelle walked away with R250 000 worth of busi­ness sup­port, which in­cludes amongst oth­ers:

● In­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tion

● Work­ing cap­i­tal

● Prod­uct devel­op­ment

● Men­tor­ship

● Mar­ket­ing ex­penses Ac­cord­ing to the Real State of En­trepreneur­ship Sur­vey 2017, some of the rea­sons cited for busi­ness fail­ure by en­trepreneurs them­selves are lack of busi­ness sup­port in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial (36%); poor plan­ning (24%); lack of ac­cess to mar­kets (17%); lack of op­er­a­tions ex­pe­ri­ence (15%) and poor fi­nan­cial man­age­ment (8%).

Hence, Inkunz’ i se mat hole ni is a flag­ship pro­gramme of Ithala to as­sist-as­pir­ing en­trepreneurs to turn their cre­ative con­cepts into fully op­er­a­tional busi­nesses by pro­vid­ing start-up cap­i­tal and the nec­es­sary busi­ness sup­port to help them launch, man­age and run their busi­nesses suc­cess­fully.

“We un­der­stand the plight of SMMEs and, there­fore, pro­vide fi­nan­cial and non-fi­nan­cial sup­port to en­sure the sus­tain­abil­ity of busi­nesses,” said Themba Mathe, Act­ing Group Chief Ex­ec­u­tive at Ithala. “Our strate­gic part­ner Tech­nol­ogy In­no­va­tion Agency (TIA), pro­vides af­ter­care sup­port and busi­ness men­tor­ship to ca­pac­i­tate en­trepreneurs.”

He said the cal­i­bre of en­tries this year and the level of in­no­va­tion ap­plied was most im­pres­sive and re­flec­tive of a tal­ented and di­verse pool of en­trepreneurs.

Two spe­cial awards were pre­sented to fi­nal­ists to fur­ther as­sist them in their entrepreneurial jour­ney.

Lloyd Gor­don from Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, the cre­ator and owner of Vula Maths, re­ceived a R50 000 mar­ket­ing voucher to help him mar­ket his ex­ist­ing in­no­va­tion – an ap­pli­ca­tion that al­lows stu­dents to learn math­e­mat­ics freely with­out in­cur­ring any costs.

The ser­vice uses an An­droid app and a web­site as plat­forms to al­low learn­ing. A stu­dent sim­ply types in a math­e­mat­i­cal prob­lem and the ser­vice re­turns a step-bystep so­lu­tion to the prob­lem. This en­sures that stu­dents learn how to get to the an­swer. High-qual­ity maths ed­u­ca­tion is avail­able for free to all stu­dents from var­i­ous so­cioe­co­nomic back­grounds, thereby pro­mot­ing in­clu­siv­ity in line with gov­ern­ment’s rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion agenda.

Si­man­gal­iso Zungu from KwaMbonambi in north­ern KZN is the re­cip­i­ent of the sec­ond spe­cial award. He is­cur­rently in the process of de­vel­op­ing a break­through tech­nol­ogy in the mo­bile de­vice in­dus­try.

The Power Ex­tend­ing (PoEX) Mo­d­ule is de­signed with in­te­grated mo­bile power har­vest­ing tech­nol­ogy to as­sist with ex­tend­ing the bat­tery life of cell phones and tablets. No ca­ble charg­ers or plug-in charg­ing is re­quired. The tech­nol­ogy sim­ply pro­vides highly ef­fi­cient power-on­the-go for cell phones and tablets to self-charge. Due to the del­i­cate na­ture of the project, TIA will as­sist Zungu with de­vel­op­ing his pro­to­type and IP pro­tec­tion through their seed fund.

Driv­ing SMME and co­op­er­a­tive devel­op­ment over the next five years in line with its man­date to pro­mote devel­op­ment is one of the key strate­gic goals of Ithala.The “Im­bokodo Iyazen­zela” Women in SMMEs Awards and Siyasebenza are two ad­di­tional flag­ship pro­grammes of Ithala which ac­cel­er­ate SMME devel­op­ment and em­power women and youth in his­tor­i­cally marginalised com­mu­ni­ties.

“Im­bokodo Iyazen­zela”or “Women do­ing it for them­selves” was pi­loted in 2015 and has since reached over 3000 women in 16 towns. The pro­gramme pro­vides an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for fe­male en­trepreneurs in KZN who re­quire ac­cess to fi­nance and the re­sources to grow and seeks to im­prove the longterm sus­tain­abil­ity of women-owned SMME’s in the province.

“Siyasebenza” which means “We are work­ing”is a busi­ness devel­op­ment pro­gramme aimed at ed­u­cat­ing ex­ist­ing and emerg­ing en­trepreneurs in town­ships and ru­ral ar­eas on ways to build and grow sus­tain­able busi­nesses. Over 2 000 SMMEs in all 11 dis­tricts of KZN have been reached to date.

Over the past three years, Ithala has dis­bursed R878 600 000 to nearly 700 busi­nesses, re­sult­ing in over 8 000 jobs be­ing cre­ated. Of these, 28% are women-owned busi­nesses and young peo­ple com­prise nearly 40% of those on Ithala’s loan book.

Ithala’s Busi­ness Fi­nance port­fo­lio caters for small and medium in­dus­trial and com­mer­cial busi­nesses as well as agri­cul­tural en­ter­prises, tourism ven­tures, co-op­er­a­tives and build­ing con­trac­tors.

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