The top eight finalists in the Inkunzi’ Isematholeni Youth in Business Competition 2017 were, back row: Sizwe Mthethwa; Lloyd Gordon; Trever Colvelle and Simangaliso Zungu and front row: Thabani Buthelezi; Nhlakanipho Mpungose; Goodluck Nzimande and Litha Matala.
The top eight finalists in the Inkunzi’ Isematholeni Youth in Business Competition 2017 were, back row: Sizwe Mthethwa; Lloyd Gordon; Trever Colvelle and Simangaliso Zungu and front row: Thabani Buthelezi; Nhlakanipho Mpungose; Goodluck Nzimande and Litha Matala.

Getting the youth to think green

By Lyse Comins Time of article published Nov 29, 2017

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A selection of KwaZulu-Natal’s young and upcoming entrepreneurs were celebrated for their technological innovations at Ithala Development Finance Corporation’s Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business Competition Awards last week.

Ithala chairperson Roshan Morar, speaking at the awards ceremony in Durban last week, said the theme of the competition “Think Innovation, Think Green” had remained unchanged from last year as research continued to emphasise innovation and the green economy as growing sectors of all economies globally.

The competition aims to assist aspiring entrepreneurs to turn creative concepts into operational businesses, by providing start-up capital and support to help them launch, manage and run successful businesses.

“The need to place our focus on youth development can never be overstated. Youth are the cornerstone of the future prosperity of this nation and resources need to be put in place to ensure that this ideal is reached,” Morar said.        

But according to Stats SA, the youth unemployment rate in South Africa increased to 55.90% in the second quarter of 2017 up from 54.30% in the first quarter.

“This is an alarmingly high number, telling us that there needs to be a strong focus on entrepreneurship in this country, especially among the youth,” Morar said.

Morar said the bank had recognised the plight of the youth and established the competition as a solution to the unemployment crisis.

Business concepts had to be innovative, financially viable and most importantly, needed to create job opportunities to be considered for the award.

“Through this programme, Ithala aims to provide a platform for the unemployed youth to embark on a financed business venture, create job and entrepreneurship opportunities against the backdrop of unemployment and poverty and groom young entrepreneurs to assist with stimulating economic growth in the province. This competition required our youth to develop business concepts that seek to provide solutions to the challenges we face,” Morar said.”

Eight finalists, with one overall winner and two special award winners selected from just over 200 entries, had to present their business concepts to a panel of independent judges including representatives from the Trade and Innovation Agency (TIA) and Invotech.

Trever Colvelle of Bulwer in the Midlands won first position for his invention of the Solar Nexus, a foldable solar charging device that can power a heater, radio, TV and lights in the home, eliminating the need for batteries, paraffin stoves and open fire cooking which can be hazardous.

Trevor Colvelle's bright idea

Colvelle walked away with R250 000 worth of business support, including, mentorship, product development, incubation, market research, working capital, company registration, IP protection and marketing support.

 Special awards were presented to two finalists.

 Lloyd Gordon from Pietermaritzburg, the creator and owner of Vula Maths, received a R50 000 marketing voucher to help him market his 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 types in a mathematical problem and the service returns a step-by-step solution, ensuring users learn how to get to the answer. Simangaliso Zungu of KwaMbonambi in northern KZN, who is developing a breakthrough technology in the mobile device industry, received the second special award.

 His Power Extending (PoEX) Module is designed with integrated mobile power harvesting technology to extend the battery life of cellphones and tablets.

Mercury business/Network

No cable chargers or plug-in charging is required. The technology provides highly efficient self-charging power-on-the-go. TIA will be assisting Zungu to develop his prototype and IP protection via its seed fund.

 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%).

“We understand the plight of SMMEs and, therefore, provide a combination of financial and non-financial support to ensure the sustainability of businesses,” said Themba Mathe, Acting Group Chief Executive at Ithala.  

“Our strategic partner, the TIA, provides aftercare support and much-needed business mentorship to capacitate entrepreneurs,” he 
said.

The calibre of entries and level of innovation had been impressive, reflecting a talented and diverse pool of local entrepreneurs, he said.

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