‘Believe in your idea or no one else will’

23 May 2022 | Story Niémah Davids. Photo Unsplash. Read time 6 min.
The internal round of the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition was hosted by UCT’s Careers Service for the fourth consecutive year.
The internal round of the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition was hosted by UCT’s Careers Service for the fourth consecutive year.

Entrepreneurship is an exciting, challenging and rewarding journey, and as much as entrepreneurs should prepare for success, they should also prepare for failure, said University of Cape Town’s (UCT) vice-chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.

Professor Phakeng was speaking at Day 1 of the internal round of the 2022 Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition last week. The competition is an initiative of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education programme and aims to identify the top student entrepreneurs at South Africa’s 26 public universities. The event serves as a platform for students to showcase their businesses and to attract investors to their enterprises. It also provides up-and-coming entrepreneurs whose businesses are still in idea phase an opportunity to pitch their concepts. UCT’s Careers Service hosted the internal round of the competition for the fourth consecutive year.


“I want you to know that entrepreneurship is not easy … [but] when you fail as an entrepreneur, it’s not the end.”

“I want you to know that entrepreneurship is not easy … [but] when you fail as an entrepreneur, it’s not the end. You should stop, learn the lessons and move on to the next thing. That’s what entrepreneurs do – they don’t give up when they fail; they take responsibility. They look at what went wrong and what they can do differently,” Phakeng said.

Do hard things

A total of 16 budding UCT student entrepreneurs participated in the three-day internal round of pitches. The event was held virtually between 17 and 19 May. The eight winners (two per category) were announced on Friday, 20 May, and will proceed to the regional round of the competition. There they will go head to head with their counterparts from Stellenbosch University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape.

“Entrepreneurship is not easy; entrepreneurship is hard,” Phakeng said. “But successful people are people who [are willing] to do hard things [and] you’ve got to be prepared to do [that]. Every time you’re in a tough situation, instead of complaining, ask yourself: How can I fix the problem?”

Phakeng encouraged students to develop a problem-solving mindset, to not become complacent and to take ownership and responsibility when things don’t go according to plan. She urged them to get into their entrepreneurial journey “honestly and truly” and to believe in their ideas, or no one else will.

Brilliant ideas

According to Nadia Waggie, UCT’s Entrepreneurship Intervarsity coordinator and the head of sustainability and impact at Careers Service, students made every effort to do well as they prepared and pitched their business ideas during this round of the competition. No one was unprepared, she added.

Participants entered the following categories during this leg of the competition:

  • New business ideas
  • Existing business – tech
  • Existing business – social impact
  • Existing business – general.

“Year after year I am blown away by the ingenuity of our students – their brilliant business ideas, their mindsets and their will to succeed. We could only admit eight students to the regional round, but I believe that all these students are going places. And with more of them in South Africa, the future of this country is in the right hands,” Waggie said.  

A tough round

Participants were given three minutes to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, after which judges conducted a two-minute question-and-answer session to gain a better understanding of each concept.

The top eight students proceeding to the next round are:

  • Asonele Gevenga, whose business Fleeker Finance helps students to build a credit history in order for them to easily access credit once they leave university and start working.
  • Alinafe Kaliwo established Mechro Africa to help save clients’ business process costs and to help them grow their investments.
  • Phumelo Matie’s online application-based business Legal Standpoint aims to democratise legal education and legal services in South Africa.
  • Victor Xaba established HemPad South Africa, a social enterprise that aims to directly address inequitable access to safe, high-quality and affordable sanitary products.
  • Nicolene Kriek’s business Three D Cosmetics trading as the French Parfumerie ensures that fragrances are accessible and affordable to all South Africans.


“We are delighted at students’ performances during this nerve-wrecking round of the competition.”

  • Naledi Maponopono’s brainchild, Inkwenkwezi Language Services, provides editing, proofreading, translation and academic writing services to clients who need it.
  • Matimba Mabonda’s initiative LolaGreen is determined to make a difference to the environment by collecting plastic waste found on landfills and in other parts of the environment and converting it into durable roof tiles.
  • Patrick Rankhumise’s business Universitrade, an e-commerce platform, enables university students to buy and sell goods directly to each other.

“We are delighted at students’ performance during this nerve-wrecking round of the competition. They did so well, and we could not be prouder. We wish them the best as they prepare for the tough regional round of the competition. We’re behind them every step of the way,” Waggie said.

The regional round of the competition will be hosted by Cape Peninsula University of Technology in August.

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