Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE)

On behalf of the Department of Higher Education and Training and Universities South Africa (USAf), the voice of the 26 public universities in South Africa, brings you the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2024!


The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), in collaboration with Universities South Africa and through the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme, is hosting the 6th annual national EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity from April to November 2024. The University Capacity Development Programme funds this competition, and for the 5th year, the intervarsity is held in partnership with the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and SAB Foundation.

The EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity will not have the New Business Ideas category 2024. Instead, the renewed focus is on refining the criteria for the existing business categories to attract investors and new partnerships. While the aim is to attract entries from all 26 public universities, the primary emphasis lies on quality operating businesses that have the potential to serve as role models and compete for the prestigious Studentpreneur of The Year 2024 title.

The EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity is an annual competition launched in the first quarter of the year to identify and showcase the top student entrepreneurs at South African public universities and invite investment to support student businesses. The competition includes four categories: Existing Business – Tech, Existing Business – Social Impact, Existing Business – General, and Research-Based Business. EDHE invites students from all 26 public South African universities to participate in the competition by submitting their entries in one of the four categories. The number of successful submissions has grown steadily, from 1155 in 2019 to 1545 in 2020, 1468 in 2021, and 1682 in 2022. In 2023, the competition received 1266 successful submissions with a new focus on quality over quantity.

The EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2024 is a platform designed to identify, recognise and showcase the top student entrepreneurs at South Africa’s 26 public universities. The primary objectives of the Intervarsity are:

  • To identify the top student entrepreneurs at each university;
  • To identify the top student businesses at each university;
  • To encourage universities to support student businesses and entrepreneurs better.

The competition is designed with four distinct categories, providing opportunities for diverse groups of students to participate and benefit. The competition invites studentpreneurs to submit their entries in one of the following categories:

  • Category 1: Existing Business – Tech
    This category attracts entrepreneurs passionate about technology-based businesses.
  • Category 2: Existing Business – Social Impact
    This category caters to social entrepreneurs, offering an opportunity to pitch their startups, focusing on social impact.
  • Category 3: Existing Business – General
    Is available for any other type of business accepted according to the competition Terms and Conditions.
  • Category 4: Research-Based Business
    This category encourages the commercialisation of research by students and university staff. This category seeks to foster innovation and support the development of research-based startups.

The EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2024 welcomes university students from all 26 South African public universities to participate in the competition. Registered undergraduate and postgraduate students across all disciplines are eligible to participate, regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time students. University staff members are allowed to participate in the Research-Based Business category. Contestants aged 18 to 35 must submit business entries demonstrating a maximum monthly turnover of R100 000.00, including investments and funding.

Unfortunately, studentpreneurs from TVET colleges cannot participate in the competition. This limitation arises since Universities South Africa (USAf) exclusively serves the 26 South African public universities. To be eligible for participation, participants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be currently enrolled as an undergraduate or postgraduate student at any of the 26 South African public universities when submitting an entry to the competition. Both full-time and part-time enrolment is acceptable.
  • Ensure that you maintain good academic standing, as verified by your university’s EDHE Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators.
  • Postgraduate students are eligible to participate only if they have been continuously enrolled in a university following their undergraduate degree.
  • As the owner, founder, or controlling shareholder of an existing business participating in one of the competition categories, you should be primarily responsible for its operation. During the competition, each business may only have one representative.
  • The business entered into the competition must have been in operation for at least three consecutive months before entering the competition.
  • The business entered into the competition must have generated income or received some form of investment at the time of entering the competition.

The EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity offers an exceptional platform for student entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative ideas and receive recognition for their hard work. Here are some reasons why student entrepreneurs should consider participating in the competition:

  • Exposure: By participating in the competition, student entrepreneurs can showcase their innovative ideas to a broader audience, which can help them gain media attention, investment opportunities, and potential customers.
  • Networking: The EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity allows student entrepreneurs to network alongside fellow entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders. This interaction can facilitate valuable connections and offer insights into the industry.
  • Feedback: Student entrepreneurs can receive feedback on their businesses and presentations, which they can use to enhance their businesses and strategies.
  • Funding opportunities: The competition provides funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs to develop their ideas further and turn them into successful businesses.
  • Skills development: Participating in the competition allows student entrepreneurs to develop their pitching and presentation skills, essential for business success.
  • Recognition: Emerging victorious in the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity can give student entrepreneurs recognition and credibility, enhancing their ability to attract potential investors, customers, and partners.

Overall, the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity can be a valuable platform for student entrepreneurs looking to gain exposure, network, receive feedback, access funding opportunities, and develop their skills.

The adjudication process will consider several factors, including the feasibility of the business model, the target market, and the level of investment made in the business. The adjudicators will be carefully selected and will meet specific criteria. The process will ensure consistency and fairness throughout. Qualified auditors will monitor the regional and final rounds.

The EDHE Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators at South African 26 public universities’ role in advancing student entrepreneurship and supporting students to participate in the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity is crucial. Serving as a liaison between EDHE and their respective universities, the Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators carry out a variety of roles, including:

  • Promoting the competition: One of the primary roles of the Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators is to promote the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity at their universities and encourage student entrepreneurs to participate.
  • Assisting with entries: The Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators guide students through the competition submission process, ensuring that entries are complete and meet all requirements.
  • Reviewing Applications: The Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators assess student applications, ensuring they meet competition criteria and approve successful entries for internal university rounds.
  • Preparing students for pitching: The Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators support students in preparing for their business pitch and enhance their pitching skills.
  • Hosting Internal Rounds: The Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators organise internal university rounds where students pitch their businesses to a panel of judges, and successful contestants advance to the regional rounds.
  • Due diligence: The Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators conduct due diligence on businesses advancing to the regional rounds. This process includes verifying the legitimacy of each business, checking ownership, and ensuring compliance with competition Terms and Conditions.

The Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators promote and facilitate student entrepreneurship across 26 public universities. Promoting participation in the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity, they assist students in sharpening their entrepreneurial skills and transforming innovative ideas into viable ventures, potentially fostering new businesses, job opportunities, and economic advancement.

During the adjudication process, judges will consider various factors when evaluating businesses based on specific category criteria such as;

  • Business description: Assessing the clarity and comprehensiveness of the business description and its activities provided in the entry.
  • Innovation and differentiation: Evaluating the uniqueness and innovative approach of the business, whether it improves upon existing methods or introduces new products/services, and how effectively it distinguishes itself from competitors.
  • Market Analysis: Examining the well-defined target market, market size, growth prospects, and the genuine need for the business’s products/services.
  • Product or Service Analysis: Clarifying how well the business defines its product or service, meets the needs of the target market, communicates features and benefits, and maintains a competitive edge.
  • Marketing Strategy: Review the marketing strategy, including the go-to-market plan and tools to capture the target market.

Criteria aim to evaluate the business’s potential for success, feasibility, and ability to stand out in a competitive marketplace.

The EDHE team, under the leadership of the Director for Entrepreneurship at Universities South Africa (USAf), oversees the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2024. Mr Sandile Shabalala, the Senior Student Engagement Officer at EDHE, leads this flagship project; the team includes the competition’s Advisory Committee and the EDHE Community of Practice for Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators. EDHE’s responsibilities encompass approving competition rules, setting terms and conditions, defining adjudication criteria for each category, and appointing judges and auditors. Additionally, logistic planning and organisation of internal and regional rounds fall under the EDHE and university Student Entrepreneurship Coordinators within their respective institutions and regions.

EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity Launch – 8 April 2024

Contact Details

How it Works?

The EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2024 officially launches on 8 April 2024, with entry submissions open until 3 May 2024. The competition comprises three stages: the Entry Period, university Internal Rounds, Regional Rounds, and finishes at the National Finals in Gauteng on 28 November 2024.


Research Based Business

A workshop designed to clarify the qualifying criteria and provide an in-depth understanding of the Research-Based Business category for the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2024.

Existing business: Social Impact – Category selection workshop

A workshop designed to clarify the qualifying criteria and provide an in-depth understanding of the Existing Business: Social Impact category for the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2024.

Existing business: Tech – Category selection workshop

A workshop designed to clarify the qualifying criteria and provide an in-depth understanding of the Existing Business: Tech category for the EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2024.