Belgian and SA students compete for best business ideas

“Youth Month” sees students from the University of Cape Town (UCT), a visiting student group from Belgium and fledgling entrepreneurs from the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development (at UCT) competing in a “Pitch Off” on Thursday, 08 June 2017 hosted by Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB) in Parow Industria. The UCT Development Unit for New Enterprise (DUNE) Pitch Off competition, supported by CCPB, aims to provide a safe but competitive space for student entrepreneurs to take the first step towards starting their own business as they pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of judges.

The Belgian students will be in Cape Town for the International Week of Entrepreneurial Management which is a collaboration between UCT’s DUNE, the H-Web, the CVO Hooger Insituut Der Kempen and Thomas More University in Belgium.

The participants from the Raymond Ackerman Academy (RAA) are graduates of the six-month entrepreneurship programme and are currently part of the RAA’s year-long Graduate Entrepreneur Support Service where their businesses are incubated. “The course is for young people who are passionate about business and personal development, who have limited opportunities for accessing tertiary education, finding or creating employment,” explains Elli Yiannakaris, Director of the RAA.

Siphelele Magidigidi, a former RAA graduate who is now the Director and Founder of three companies, says, “The RAA taught me how to identify a problem within society and how to build a business model aimed directly at resolving that particular problem.”

South Africa has among the lowest level of entrepreneurial activity in the world. Despite this, small and medium sized enterprises account for 48% of the Gross Domestic Product and over 50% of employment.

“There is no doubt about the great value of developing an entrepreneurial spirit amongst young people. They possess great energy and potential to contribute to economic prosperity, job creation and ultimately to improve the community in which they operate. We are thrilled to partner with the Raymond Ackerman Academy and the Development Unit for New Enterprise on this exciting journey,” says Priscilla Urquhart, Public Affairs and Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages.

Stuart Hendry, Director of DUNE says, “Enhanced entrepreneurship is crucial for economic development. UCT has a unique opportunity to play an important leadership role in building critical mass for the development of entrepreneurs in South Africa.”

Pol Hauspie, serial entrepreneur and founder of Belgium’s H-Web Foundation will be one of the judges on the panel reviewing the creative ideas presented by the students as well as Letitia De Wet, CEO of Enactus South Africa and Rob Hersov, Serial Entrepreneur and Angel Investor. “It is a great privilege for me to mentor young entrepreneurs from Belgium and South Africa by sharing my experience, knowledge and insights,” concludes Hauspie.

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