The University of Pretoria (UP) has launched the Mamelodi Business Hub, which will offer young people in Mamelodi and further afield the opportunity to realise their entrepreneurial ambitions.
Based on UP’s Mamelodi Campus, the hub was established in collaboration with UNICEF South Africa and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
“The Mamelodi Business Hub will endeavour to become a key catalyst in township revival and enhancement, not only focusing on entrepreneurial development but also on significant social impact via its focused service offerings to an array of communities in the region,” says UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe.
“The Mamelodi Business Hub is a proud entrepreneurship enabler and is part of the Department of Business Management’s quality-driven community engagement initiatives that endeavour to enhance social impact through interdisciplinary-oriented programmes,” adds Prof Alex Antonites, Head of UP’s Department of Business Management.
Originally known as the Mamelodi Business Clinic, the hub was established in 2011 by the Department of Business Management in UP’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, with the primary aim of enabling community development through innovative interventions and enhancing the development of entrepreneurs in the local community.
For more than a decade, the initiative touched the lives of more than 14 000 entrepreneurs. But now, what Prof Kupe describes as UP’s best-kept secret has reached a point where it is ready to scale its activities for greater impact. The revitalised hub is born out of a greater vision for South Africa and Africa.
Shirley Machaba, CEO of PwC South Africa; Muriel Mafico, UNICEF South Africa Deputy Representative; UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe; and Professor Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu, Dean of UP’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
“The Mamelodi Business Hub will focus on being more than just a business incubator,” says Prof Kupe. “UP’s new five-year strategic plan centres on being future-oriented and future-focused in addressing both historical and present challenges. One of the University’s core strategic goals is to embed community engagement and civic commitment in its academic mission.”
The emphasis at the hub will be on:
- Developing women’s leadership skills;
- Introducing fourth industrial revolution technology via UP’s design lab, Makerspace;
- Co-creating innovative products and services for young entrepreneurs via UP’s interdisciplinary-orientated teams and strategic partners;
- Merging the needs of the micro-business environment in Mamelodi with the skills of UP undergraduate and postgraduate students;
- Creating a base for collaborative international research that advances the body of knowledge on entrepreneurial and socio-economic development in the informal sector; and
- Creating a unique entrepreneurship enablement model to be replicated in South Africa and Africa with university partners.
Prof Kupe says the work of the hub will integrate with the mandates of UP’s recently launched Centre for the Future of Work and the Centre for Entrepreneurship in order to create and transfer new knowledge, innovations and the strategic trajectory of UP within a changing socio‐political, economic and higher education environment.
“The success of the hub is directly linked to the synergy and strong relationships established over time in driving a shared vision of social impact,” Prof Kupe says. “We thank PwC and UNICEF for funding and advising the new business model and programme.”
Shirley Machaba, CEO of PwC South Africa, says the collaboration with UP and UNICEF allows the firm to stay true to its core values of solving important problems and delivering sustainable outcomes that contribute to the growth and development of South Africa and Africa.
“South Africa faces a myriad of challenges in terms of preparing for the new world of work,” Machaba says. “Together with their delivery partners and through the use of best-in-class methodologies and emerging smart technologies, PwC South Africa and UNICEF are enhancing these kinds of programmes to improve the overall chances of employability and foster an entrepreneurial spirit among young, disadvantaged people between the ages of 15 and 24.”
“Providing young people with the space and opportunities to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions is a priority in South Africa,” says Muriel Mafico, UNICEF South Africa Deputy Representative. “This collaboration – as part of UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited initiative [a global project that empowers youth with education and skills to transition into their working lives] – will help young people to transform their social and economic prospects to improve their well-being and that of their communities and South Africa as a whole.”