INTERNATIONAL - University students are increasingly looking at entrepreneurship opportunities while studying as the grim South African economy and high unemployment rate may not lead to a job after completing their degrees.
University of KwaZulu-Natal InQubate director Suvina Singh in an interview said they have had many of students coming into their offices asking how they could help them with their business ideas.
“There are also students in varsity that are actually running small businesses. Since we have started engaging in entrepreneurship, we have come across more and more of these students. This contributed to the understanding that they are interested in entrepreneurship,” said Singh.
The director said that while a majority of students aimed to complete their degrees and find a job, they were becoming aware of the economic climate and the reality that they might not get a job offer on their table when they finished university. Singh said students want to take their future into their own hands.
Unfortunately at this point, students did not seem to be tying entrepreneurship with what they were studying at university.
“That is where we want them to get to. We want a student who is studying engineering to consider starting an engineering business linked to their studies. At the moment students are pursuing entrepreneurship from a fundamental perspective where they basically see an opportunity like a car wash as almost every academic in the university had a car. They also want to open a tuck shop or a pop-corn stand and the likes,” she said.
Singh explained why this was occurring.
“In the advanced and first world economies, students are starting up hi-tech businesses. With our students many come from rural areas and might not be exposed to high- tech ideas. It is just a matter of exposing our students to more opportunities as they grow in the understanding of what is going on around them and the opportunities that are there. We will see the levels of their ideas starting to pick up.”
Singh said that there were some students that were interested in hydroponics, some in data mining and some that were developing applications that took entrepreneurship to the next level.
At a global level, University of KwaZulu-Natal InQubate was embarking on an initiative with the WADHAANI Foundation that tried to get into universities and expose students to entrepreneurship. It also sought to take students to Silicon Valley to let them understand what was going on there. There were other that include the Global Entrepreneurship Network.