Sandra Caldecott, who co-owns the 17 on 5th Avenue guesthouse with her husband, Lee, speaks at the student entrepreneurship challenge
Image: Werner Hills

A new Nelson Mandela Bay initiative aims to provide a springboard for students with business aspirations to translate their vision into reality.

Student entrepreneurs from multiple faculties at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) will take part in a business challenge that will offer them an opportunity to get mentorship, coaching, pre-seed investment and capacity building.

The Student Entrepreneurship Challenge, spearheaded by student entrepreneur Kazimla Mbongwe with the Advancement of Black Accounting Students and corporate partners, was introduced to budding entrepreneurs at the university’s Second Avenue campus.

Top-achieving entrepreneurs, 17 on 5th Avenue guesthouse owners Lee and Sandra Caldecott, have shared their experience and opened their doors to assist where they can.

In the challenge, a maximum of 10 entrepreneurs from each of the university’s seven faculties will be given the opportunity to present their business, share the challenges they face in running the businesses, and be given theoretical guidance on how to overcome their respective challenges.

They will then be challenged to solve their problems in practice.

Mbongwe, who studies management at NMU and runs his business grooming and consultancy firm KLYM Holdings, said the implementationfocused programme aimed to help students put their vision into action at the same time as continuing their studies.

The programme would offer tailor-made services and solutions according to specific challenges faced by each of the businesses, he said.

“The main aim is to outline the various ways in which students can implement their vision,” Mbongwe said.

“We will give the entrepreneurs assistance in theory and give them mentors so they have someone to go to for advice, and then we’ll say ‘go and run your business’.”

The challenge will run for six months, after which successful businesses will be rewarded with funding from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

The Caldecotts shared their experiences in entrepreneurship and advice with the aspiring entrepreneurs, some of whom signed up to join the challenge at the end of the information session.

NYDA representative Sifiso Mlimi pledged support for the initiative and urged startup entrepreneurs to approach the agency for assistance.

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