Standard Bank has taken a pioneering step to address the daunting challenges facing young job seekers through its continued investment in the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) Economic Activation Office (EAO) programme.

Established in 2022, the EDHE EAO programme is a collaborative effort involving Standard Bank, Universities South Africa (USAF), the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHE), and the University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP).

One of the cornerstones of this transformative initiative is the establishment of EAOs at 10 public universities across the country. These offices are now operational and actively engaging in EAO activities, offering comprehensive training, dedicated mentorship, and access to critical resources for young student entrepreneurs. This hands-on guidance aims to empower them to realise their visionary business ideas and navigate the complexities of today’s market.

The following universities are part of the first cohort of institutions to join the EAO programme:

  • Durban University of Technology (DUT)
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)
  • Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)
  • Walter Sisulu University (WSU)
  • University of Limpopo (UL)
  • University of Cape Town (UCT)
  • University of Venda (UNIVEN)
  • Nelson Mandela University (NMU)
  • Sol Plaatje University (SPU)
  • University of Johannesburg (UJ)

Plans are already in motion to extend this programme to several more universities, and details will be announced after the annual EDHE Lekgotla taking place on the 6th to 8th September 2023.

Crucially, Standard Bank’s investment will fuel the growth of business incubation and acceleration projects at these universities. These vital initiatives provide young entrepreneurs with essential resources and invaluable support, enabling them to transform fledgling concepts into successful ventures.

Furthermore, networking and collaboration opportunities abound within the EDHE programme, connecting aspiring entrepreneurs with like-minded peers, experienced mentors, and potential investors. This promotion of connections is set to foster innovation, accelerate growth, and drive the economic momentum South Africa so desperately seeks.

The EDHE’s positive impact is already evident, with remarkable success stories showcasing its effectiveness:

  • Innofruit: Two University of Cape Town students founded Innofruit, a ground-breaking social enterprise providing affordable, fresh fruit to disadvantaged schools. With support from EDHE, Innofruit has blossomed to supply over 100 schools, addressing a crucial societal need while creating sustainable economic opportunities.
  • MojaBot: A student from the University of Johannesburg harnessed the power of technology, creating MojaBot, a chatbot assisting students in accessing vital university information. Garnering over 10 000 users, this innovation underscores how the EDHE programme empowers young minds to drive tangible change through technology.
  • Reef Cloud: A University of the Witwatersrand student introduced Reef Cloud, a pioneering cloud-based platform streamlining inventory management for businesses. EDHE’s guidance facilitated Reef Cloud’s growth, allowing it to serve over 50 businesses and revolutionise operational efficiency.

With the EDHE programme, Standard Bank is pioneering the journey towards a brighter future, one where youth unemployment transforms into economic growth and job creation in South Africa.

Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) is the national platform for the advancement and support of entrepreneurship in universities across South Africa. As a program of the Department of Higher Education & Training (DHET) and Universities South Africa (USAf), EDHE aims to equip students and graduates for economic participation through entrepreneurial activity, support academics in developing entrepreneurship through teaching and research, and foster entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystems within.