Twenty-Five new Entrepreneurs
My ties to South Africa have been established far before I was offered an internship at Wits Business School.
For my first two trips to the country, I have had the privilege of volunteering in Mamelodi—a black township in Pretoria East.
As a part of The Mamelodi Initiative, a community-based youth education and empowerment organization, I have been teaching Math, English, and (more recently) Entrepreneurship to grade 9-11 Mamelodi students during their summer and winter vacations.
During this Winter holiday programme (three weeks in June/July), I was able to direct the second iteration of the CREED entrepreneurship education programme.
CREED was launched in January of 2015 at The Mamelodi Initiative Summer Programme. During this course, grade 11 students from the community are trained in important entrepreneurial concepts like opportunity recognition, communication, marketing, and how they can make an effective impact in their communities.
The capstone of the programme is the business plan competition, where each learner showcases their independent entrepreneurial projects—with business ideas ranging from specialty clothing lines for children to eateries that offer on-site advice from dietitians. The business plans are, of course, not judged based on feasibility, but the learners’ ability to perceive and provide a solution to issues that they observe around them.
This term’s CREED was comprised of twenty-five learners, with the top three business plan presentations being awarded R200, R100, and R50, respectively. When asked what went well during CREED, one learner said that they were given space to “work together with a partner, and give critical ideas to each other as friends, and fellow learners.”
By the end of the course, I recognized that the learners understood one thing: regardless of the situations they find themselves in, they are able to create tangible change in their community through entrepreneurship.
And as my time with Wits comes to a close and I transition back to Babson in the fall, I will be mindful of this lesson as it concerns any new venture I find myself in.
I will continue my internship with the Centre for Entrepreneurship until I depart for Boston at the end of August.