Every year leadership of institutions task persons or entities with designing and presenting a programme to support the objectives of Student Entrepreneurship Week, i.e. equipping students for entrepreneurship as a potential career. This is especially relevant, given the growing prevalence of youth unemployment and the number of students who do not complete their tertiary education studies
The fourth iteration of the annual national Student Entrepreneurship Week (#SEW2020) was launched on the 2nd – 4th of November 2020 and hosted by and streamed from the University of the Free State, a high-impact experience that raised awareness of and inspired students towards entrepreneurship.
The third iteration of the annual national Student Entrepreneurship Week was launched on the 1st of August 2019 at Nelson Mandela University. Known as #SEW2019, universities and some TVET colleges host week-long programmes to raise awareness of entrepreneurship and equip students with skills to start and run a business.
The national Student Entrepreneurship Week was piloted in 2017 and was successfully executed in 2018 by the public universities and participating TVET colleges. These one-week campaigns took place through the hosting of in-house programmes by the institutions in partnership with business, industry and NPOs. The entrepreneurial and innovative actions of dynamic champions for entrepreneurship at institutions made these campaigns instrumental in raising awareness of entrepreneurship as a career, as well as emphasising the benefits of having the best of both worlds as a student and an entrepreneur.
Along with other initiatives coordinated nationally through the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme of the Department of Higher Education, in collaboration with Universities South Africa (USAf), a movement in student entrepreneurship has been growing rapidly across the country.
The central hosting University for this year’s SEW is Sol Plaatje University in collaboration with EDHE from the 14th to the 16th of September 2021.
The primary purpose of Student Entrepreneurship Week is to raise awareness of entrepreneurship in its different forms as an alternative to formal employment. Students will be challenged to have career options in place, should they not be employed upon graduating. Students will also be challenged to consider entrepreneurial ways to supplement their income while studying, for example by participating in the gig economy or trying their hand at drop shipping. In a context where students struggle to make ends meet while studying, the message is that they might try their hand at some form of businesses, thus pursuing the best of the academic world alongside the business world.
The EDHE theme of the year is #againstallodds, attempting to stir up the resilience characteristic of so many entrepreneurs within the hearts and minds of EDHE stakeholders.
Drawing from the role of Entrepreneurship in rebuilding the South African economy as an overarching theme and celebrating of Entrepreneurship, the SEW aims to further promote and strengthen the Entrepreneurial spirit amongst university students and staff across South Africa.
SEW has raised awareness of the fact that employment is not a student’s only avenue to participate in the economy. This has led students to come up with innovative and creative ideas to solve problems in society and turn these ideas into action.
Institutions will focus on supporting and equipping potential Studentpreneurs in taking practical steps into rebuilding South Africa by starting businesses that could be sustainable and scalable. #SEW2021 #AgainstAllOdds, #Rebuild.
#SEW2021 coincides with the ongoing inaugural national Entrepreneurship Intervarsity, another key project of EDHE. This competition showcases some of the top studentpreneurs at universities across the country in an attempt to identify the top student entrepreneurs and businesses, as well as the universities that they represent.
Institutions select their preferred dates on which to host their #SEW2021programmes, sometime during the months of August or September. Organisers ensure that students are encouraged to look out for dates and events at their institutions, through official communication channels, but also through campus and local radio stations, on campus and on social media.
A few ideas:
Student interviews to showcase success stories or share best practices
You can have the best of the academic world while learning about and trying your hand at business while at varsity.
Always prioritise your studies, as you thus enhance the possibility of generating a good income after graduation.
Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, but everyone can learn the basics of starting and running a business.
As a student, you might want to be employed or follow a professional career path. You might, however, need a Plan B, a backup plan, should you not find employment after graduation.
You can empower yourself. You have a lot: skills, knowledge, potential and the opportunities that come with being a privileged student at university.
Work actively at optimising every resource you have at your disposal and utilise every available minute (such as three months’ vacation time) to advance your economic prospects.
Be proactive. You are not a victim. Don’t wait to be helped/funded/employed. Take charge of your own economic destiny. Work with what you have.
Entrepreneurship is not limited to traditional and conventional business (overemphasis on registering a business, with little happening thereafter), but also as participants in the gig economy and against the backdrop of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Focus on creating something sustainable. Tenderpreneurship is not.
Advice and assistance
EDHE Community of Practice (CoP) for Student Entrepreneurship is an open group of academics and support professionals and leaders and champions for student entrepreneurship who share a common interest in the development of student entrepreneurship, also outside of the formal curriculum and the classroom. These changemakers usually take responsibility for hosting their institutions’ #SEW programmes, as well as related projects, such as the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity. You are welcome to engage with this very helpful group of colleagues under the leadership of Chairperson and Deputy-Chair of the EDHE CoP for Student Entrepreneurship:
SEW refers to Student Entrepreneurship Week. This is a key project of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) Programme, brought to you by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Universities South Africa (USAf). Logos need to be positioned as follows: Top left-hand corner: DHET logo (always on a white background). Top right-hand corner: USAf logo. EDHE logo along with your institution’s logo in the middle followed by the DHET logo on the far left (see letterhead).
Remember to invite businesspersons from your local community to engage with studentpreneurs during your programme. Tap into the experience of local entrepreneurs by arranging for them to engage with studentpreneurs as mentors and advisors. Bring the private sector in and collaborate with neighbouring universities and TVET colleges. Together you can achieve so much more. Invite university leaders and representatives of across disciplines to participate and engage with studentpreneurs, all the while bearing in mind the objective of ultimately equipping students across disciplines with the basics of starting and running a business.
Each university has to plan and host entrepreneurial initiatives that support and equip potential Studentpreneurs in starting sustainable businesses.
Each institution will be required to submit an article or report highlighting the key entrepreneurship initiatives during the SEW, participation of studentpreneurs, academics, guests and the impact that resulted from the SEW initiatives. Report on the number of students reached and the support offered to Studentpreneurs during the SEW. Report on any, if available, partnerships that were established in hosting the SEW.
Please be sure to share your #SEW2021 stories with us and online, regardless of how big or small your efforts turn out. The point is that you are starting a ripple effect, the results of which will continue to create positive change in your institution and in the lives of students.
Organisers and participants in #SEW2021 are requested to tag @EDHEstudents on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share what is happening in #SEW2021 nationally and increase the joint impact of the initiative. Also, remember to use the hashtags #SEW2021 #againstallodds #rebuild.
The EDHE office is at your service. Mr Sandile Shabalala is responsible for Youth and Communications projects in the EDHE office. You are welcome to contact him at email@example.com or +27 12 030 0675. We attempt to keep our website updated with the latest information: