Two entrepreneurship students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) are heading to the Netherlands for a three-month internship with the business accelerator for startups Venture Lab. On Thursday 10 November, third-year B Com Entrepreneurial Management students Mr Kingsley Wax and Ms Kelebogile Ncholo leave Johannesburg for the Rijks University Groningen (RUG), which will be hosting them.
Says Ms Cashandra Jasson, a lecturer in the UJ Department of Business Management: “The exchange to the Rijks University Groningen (RUG) consists of a 10-week internship programme, from Venture Lab. Our UJ students will be working alongside students from RUG and perhaps other international students, on a group project which will include lectures and visits to a business. They can earn 15 credits from the three months and have a wonderful opportunity to sharpen their entrepreneurial capabilities.”
Student Ms Kelebogile Ncholo says she looks forward to being equipped as an innovative entrepreneur at VentureLab and to be assisted by students from the Netherlands during that time.
“When I say I study entrepreneurship, people ask ‘why?’ I do it because so many people don’t have jobs, since South Africa has such a high level of unemployment. A degree in Finance won’t help you start a business, but an Entrepreneurship qualification does,” she says.
“People say ‘entrepreneurs are born, not made’, but I believe entrepreneurs are made. Everyone is born, but to become something, you need to learn. With Entrepreneurship you need to learn about the risks, consequences and advantages so that you can be successful.
“When I enrolled for Entrepreneurship it was what I wanted. People ask ‘why don’t you become a Chartered Accountant?’ But if you want to do it, go out and do it. If you succeed, you create jobs,” says Ncholo.
Already, she has many ideas for business and is planning to start her own.
“I come from the townships, where there are no bakeries, but everyone starts a restaurant. So I want to start a bakery for bread, custom cakes and biscuits. You come to me and you say you’re having this function with a Cinderella theme. My business makes you a cake beyond what you’ll get at Pick and Pay. Or you order cakes for a funeral. Cake is a big tradition in township funerals.
Meanwhile, student Mr Kingsley Wax is already running a business and believes the three months at Venture Lab will help him take it to the next level.
“I’m sure I’ll be getting so much valuable experience in the field of Business and Entrepreneurship. This is a major stepping stone in my career: It gives me the opportunity to travel and see different parts of the world and gain experience.
“I also get an opportunity to do networking on an international platform, which is critical to success in today’s day and age, with globalization and internationalisation making the corporate environment increasingly smaller,” he says.
Mr Wax says he started his business a few months ago with his brother.
“Recently my father passed away. He had already put in all the hard work in purchasing his first truck and getting a contract. My brother and I decided we can’t let all our father’s hard work go to waste, and tried our best to pick up where he left off. The opportunity was there and all we had to do was make the most of it.”
The business is a logistics company, called KNJK Logistics, transporting cold drinks from a factory in Boksburg to different provinces in the country. Bloemfontein is one of the destinations.
“Having the business is helping a lot. I’m always out there looking for new and better contracts to work with. I am also looking to apply everything I learned at UJ and will learn to make a success of this company.”
Wax says that the B Com Entrepreneurial Management taught him a lot, especially when starting his own venture.
“I got exposed to a lot of key information while studying this course. It really makes things easier, because nowadays access to knowledge is a huge driver in terms of reaching your goals and objectives. I know it is early stages but I am confident in myself and know I can make a huge success of the company.
“This degree has a unique blend of courses which are all essential when running your own business. It enables you to be competent in a number of fields including Business, Finance, Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Basically we were taught about all the business functions separately and how they link to ensure your organisation runs smoothly,” he says.
“All I have to do is apply everything I learned, work hard, be committed and dedicated and KNJK Logistics will grow.”
Wax says that the opportunity to go to Venture lab has inspired a lot of people – his family members, friends, neighbours, classmates and colleagues.
“It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are, where you came from or all the difficult times you went through. Just work hard, discipline yourself and always trust in God. I am truly honoured to have received this opportunity and thank the University, my parents, family members and I thank God. I want to change my life for the better and change the lives of people around me and this trip gives me the platform to do so,” he says.
Ncholo and Wax return to South Africa in February 2017, enrolling for their Honours in Marketing Management and Strategic Management respectively.
New South Africa – Netherlands student exchange
Lecturer Ms Jasson says the Venture Lab internships create a big opportunity not only for UJ students but also for UJ.
“The exchange agreement with RUG entails that for every one South African student visiting the Netherlands, four Dutch students could visit South Africa. In future each South African student’s visit will be funded by the four Dutch students and possibly Erasmus Mundus, an institution encouraging cooperation between EU and African universities, particularly for student exchanges for studying and research,” she says.
“Our exchange agreement with the RUG is in the early stages and these students will be the first to benefit from this opportunity. The opportunity includes free registration fees and tuition, as well as discounts on accommodation.
“In addition, this exchange will pave the way for Dutch students to come to South Africa to study in the Department of Business Management. Once Dutch students start visiting the Department of Business Management, i.e. can start earning funds toward further exchange opportunities,” says Jasson.