Project turns postgrads into entrepreneurs

22 August 2011

Students Andrea Petersen and Theko Makhoalibe of team T-artEntrepreneurs in the making: Students Andrea Petersen and Theko Makhoalibe of team T-art exhibit their product at the PDE product launch.

It has been proven beyond a doubt. UCT's Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship (PDE) Genesis Project moulds students into business people, and accelerates their transition from academia to the real world.

The figures speak for themselves. For 13 years, students in the PDE have managed to turn their R50 loans into profitable businesses in just months (last year one group made a record R200 000), and about one-third of participants continue their businesses beyond the course schedule.

"What I like about this programme is its ability to take young people and, in a short time and accelerated manner, turn them into successful entrepreneurs," noted lecturer and course convenor, Stuart Hendry.

"The underlying problem in this country is unemployment, and entrepreneurship is the way to go," he added.

The project requires students, from diverse backgrounds and often with no business knowledge, to network and form teams that develop businesses over a year.

On 10 August this year's eight teams showcased their products, built on the back of some valuable lessons. For student Mark Gituma these lessons were about interpersonal skills, teamwork ? and handling rejection.

"To some people, when you're selling, it's as if you're a beggar, and you've got to handle that."

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