The national gathering of leaders in entrepreneurship development at universities is set to take place for the fifth consecutive year, alongside the annual Studentpreneurs Indaba. This year, the EDHE Lekgotla –flagship project and primary engagement platform of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme – will be hosted as a blended four-day event in collaboration with the University of Pretoria (UP), from 11 to 14 October, at the Future Africa Institute at UP campus.
The EDHE Lekgotla 2021, themed #entrepreneurship #againstallodds, is informed by the imperative of positioning for entrepreneurship, despite concerning challenges faced within the broader socio-economic context and their impact on the higher education sector.
Year on year, university leaders, academics, support professionals, entrepreneurship practitioners and student entrepreneurs gather at one of the public universities to engage on the latest advancements in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation as they translate into commercialisation, the development of new products, services and startups. In the now characteristic EDHE spirit of camaraderie, university stakeholders share good practice, resources, information and opportunities at the lekgotla, with the intention of improving practice, both within institutions, and across the Higher Education sector.
Dr Norah Clarke, Director: Entrepreneurship at Universities South Africa (USAf), heads up the EDHE programme. EDHE is an initiative of Department Higher Education and Training, in partnership with USAf, the representative organisation of the South African public universities.
The EDHE programme plays a supportive, coordinating and facilitative role alongside universities as they respond to the economic impediments faced both by these institutions and their students.
“Never has EDHE’s ecosystemic approach to supporting entrepreneurship development been more relevant and essential than right now. Universities are actively reflecting on their role in a society fraught with change and challenge, while students are increasingly becoming mindful of the fact that they need to think differently about the avenues they take in pursuit of their own economic empowerment,” comments Dr Clarke.
A sub-event on the third day of the lekgotla, the EDHE Studentpreneurs Indaba, is the virtual and free assembly of student entrepreneurs from across the country with kindred spirits. The event is co-hosted by two national EDHE communities of practice with a focus on the development of student entrepreneurship. The EDHE Studentpreneurs Community of Practice (CoP) consists of one student entrepreneur representative from the public universities, selected by their universities. Their role is to participate, engage, advise, advocate and initiate in terms of student entrepreneur and their businesses to ensure that the student voice is included in the sector-wide drive to improve support for entrepreneurial students.
The Indaba will start on 13 October by showcasing leading studentpreneurs and their businesses – the 28 national finalists in the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2021, one of whom will be selected as the EDHE Studentpreneur of the Year at the final round of the competition in November. The two previous winners of this sought after title, Mvelo Hlope with his business Zaio, and Promise Nyalungu with his business Struu Artzz, will be sharing the exciting journeys they have been on since winning the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity in previous years.
A new take on the Lekgotla
Unique from previous lekgotlas, this year’s programme has been designed within a carefully designed framework with a deliberate sequencing, focus and flow, co-created by the five national EDHE Communities of Practice and the University of Pretoria.
The six themed tracks start with a showcase of exciting developments, followed by a think tank of thought leaders tasked with collaboratively solving a real problem within the session, and culminating in a launchpad session in which six potentially impactful new initiatives will be publicly announced and launched.
The themes of the six tracks align perfectly with the focus on projects of each Community of Practice and are:
• Entrepreneurial universities in Africa
• Policy for university entrepreneurship
• Entrepreneurship education curricula
• Research for entrepreneurship and commercialisation
• Student economic participation through entrepreneurial activity
• Student women in entrepreneurship
Student Women Economic Empowerment Programme (SWEEP)
The Student Women Economic Empowerment Programme (SWEEP) is a pioneering programme which serves a special purpose, aimed at equipping student women for entrepreneurial activity in the context of gender-based violence and the under-representation of student women in entrepreneurship.
This is a hybrid event designed for student women and businesswomen. The objective is to have experienced businesswomen act as mentors/advisers to the younger student women entrepreneurs.
The event will take place on Wednesday, 13 October, the third day of the annual EDHE Lekgotla 2021 and towards the end of the Studentpreneurs Indaba.
We are aiming to host the launch that would help mark the start of the SWEEP countdown towards the pilot SWEEP workshop, scheduled for the first week in December 2021.
National Communities of Practice
The EDHE programme in general and the EDHE CoPs, in particular, are aimed at supporting the inculcation of a culture of entrepreneurship at universities. In the first few years of the existence of EDHE, a substantial network of champions for entrepreneurship and role players in the national university ecosystem was cultivated. This has taken place through strategically planned and executed projects, along with the support of national EDHE Communities of Practice (CoPs) as participatory structures aligned with the vision and goals of EDHE.
The EDHE landscape is now more clearly articulated, with distinctions being created between a CoP for Entrepreneurship Research and a CoP for Entrepreneurship in Teaching & Learning, in addition to the existing Studentpreneurs CoP (consisting of one student representative of each university), the CoP for Student Entrepreneurship (consisting of university staff that support student entrepreneurship) and the CoP for Entrepreneurial Universities. A CoP for Entrepreneurial Alumni’ is envisioned to be launched early in 2022.
The EDHE programme is intended to develop student entrepreneurship; foster entrepreneurship through teaching, learning and research; and create entrepreneurial universities as ecosystems that facilitate entrepreneurial activity. EDHE is aimed at leveraging the strong network of champions for entrepreneurship across universities towards capacitating universities as they indicate interest in increasingly positioning for entrepreneurship development and moving towards becoming more entrepreneurial as institutions.
The three strategic priorities of EDHE remain, with some minor shifts in emphasis, the following:
• Equip every student and graduate for economic participation through entrepreneurial activity,
with an emphasis on student women.
• Support academics across disciplines to develop entrepreneurship through teaching, learning
and research; and
• Support universities as entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystems, which includes relevant
The new phase of the programme will have a more pronounced focus on supporting the teaching,
research, innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialisation pipeline within universities.
The EDHE Lekgotla and EDHE Studentpreneurs Indaba will be taking place from 11
to 14 of October 2021, with the launch of the Student Women Economic Empowerment
Programme (SWEEP) on Wednesday 13 October 2021.
Visit the website of the EDHE for more information.