In his maiden State of the Nation address as president of South Africa, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa promised a healthy investment into agriculture and small businesses during his term. Agriculture made the largest contribution, by a significant margin, to the improved growth of the South African economy in the last semester of 2017.
“Agriculture presents one of the greatest opportunities to significantly grow our economy and create jobs. Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups. This year will take decisive action to realise the enormous economic potential of agriculture,” promised Ramaphosa.
This is good news for the aspiring Rhodes University entrepreneurs behind Afrinzygen who won the campus stage of the Hult Prize challenge last week. The team of four, made up of Samkelo Malgas (PhD – Biochemistry), Mpho Mafa (PhD – Biochemistry), Dalitso Chindipha, (PhD – Computer Science) and Nkanyiso Mathibe (Masters – Science) came first in an on-campus competition with at least 10 student teams participating.
Afrinzygen is an envisioned company aimed at producing and formulating hydrolytic enzyme(s) cocktails on an industrial scale to help farmers reduce their feed costs.
The group will participate in the regional round of the competition in Kenya, on 9 March 2018. If they qualify, they will be a step closer to winning a $1 million reward in seed capital and addressing food security and energy in a sustainable manner in Africa. This prize includes mentorship and advice from the international business community.
Chemistry Masters student and the 2017/8 Director of the Rhodes University leg of the Hult Prize at Rhodes, Zweli Hlatshwayo enthused that students are among the most creative thinkers around. “Students need to come up with ideas that not only address a social challenge, but also make money in the process to sustain lives – that’s part of the definition of social entrepreneurship,” he said.
Time Magazine has named this annual competition as one of the top five ideas changing the world. Run in partnership with the United Nations, it runs for a year at a time, aiming to identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas – start-up enterprises that tackle serious issues faced by billions of people.
“In 2015 a group had the idea of using insects as food – something a lot of us wouldn’t have thought possible. It started slow and now it has a cash flow of R40m a year. They were able to achieve that with the support of the US$1m that they won,” motivated Hlatshwayo.
Hultz participants will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business. A final round of the competition will be hosted in September 2018.
The Rhodes team needs a main sponsorship of R 60 000 for the four membered team’s travel and accommodation expenses to Kenya. Smaller sponsored amounts are also welcome.
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Source Rhodes University