The founder of one South African student start-up that won a trip to a 10-day residency programme at the University of Basel in Switzerland, in June, has called the trip an eye-opener presenting endless possibilities for his venture.

Mr Matimba Mabonda (second from right, below) is a Master of Science, Chemical Engineering student at the University of Cape Town and the founder of Lola Green, a company that converts waste plastic into eco-friendly bricks and roof tiles. These fire-resistant, durable products offer a solution to their currently circulating competitors associated with high greenhouse emissions. For that reason, Mabonda sees Lola Green as a viable response to the United Nations’ Sustainable Goal 13 – that seeks to combat climate change.

The trip to Switzerland was a reward for presenting a winning business prototype at the Academia-Industry Training workshop of the Swiss and African Science and Business Innovators (AIT-SASBI) programme that doubled as SASBI’s Spring Conference in South Africa in February 2023. The conference was co-hosted with Universities South Africa’s Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme, an SA partner in the SASBI programme alongside participating associations in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Rwanda.