Young entrepreneurs are reaping the harvest of their labour

The University of Pretoria’s Mamelodi Business Hub, a collaboration with UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited initiative and PwC, gives entrepreneurs in the community the support they need to develop innovative businesses.

Lungelo Matangira
UNICEF South Africa/2022/Matangira
26 May 2022

A small vegetable patch lies neatly tucked a few hundred metres away from the front entrance of the University of Pretoria’s Mamelodi campus - a symbol of hard work, growth and promise. This patch did not exist just three months ago, but through the dedication of a group of young entrepreneurs, a fledgling business that is able to feed the community has been established.

Debbie Mdlongwa and Koketso Makatu, students at the university’s Mamelodi Business Hub, are part of the group of six entrepreneurs managing the vegetable patch. The Hub been established by the University of Pretoria in collaboration with UNICEF South Africa (as part of the Generation Unlimited initiative) and Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC).

UNICEF South Africa/2022/Matangira
The vegetable patch run by a group of young entrepreneurs at the University of Pretoria’s Mamelodi campus.

Formerly known as the Mamelodi Business Clinic, the Hub – a part of the university’s Department of Business Management within the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences - has been in existence for over a decade, giving Mamelodi youth the support needed to develop innovative interventions to enhance the development of entrepreneurs in the community.

The new name and a revamped look, along with cutting-edge technology, will help students keep up with developments in an ever-changing world where the fourth industrial revolution is no longer an idea of the future, but a reality of the present.

Mdlongwa, Makatu and their peers started their Agri-entreprenuership learnership in August 2021 where they were taken through intense theoretical training. In January 2022, it was time to put what they had learned to use and in April 2022 they began selling their harvest to on-campus staff, households in the vicinity and donated some to a few households in need in the community.

UNICEF South Africa/2022/Matangira
UNICEF South Africa Deputy Representative, Muriel Mafico, visited the vegetable patch run by a group of young entrepreneurs at the University of Pretoria’s Mamelodi campus.

“Now we’re on the verge of registering a business and once we do that, we’ll be able to run this on a more professional level. We’re grateful that the University of Pretoria is allowing us to continue using this space to grow. We want to scale up the business to grow and sell more of our produce and give away a portion to the community.”

Mdlongwa and Makatu say that they want to pay it forward and teach younger people what they have learnt as agri-entreprenuers. For now, they are looking forward to their programme becoming bigger and better and securing funding that’ll see them securing more land and supplying clients across South Africa.

“What UNICEF South Africa, the university and PwC are doing is very impactful, it gives us hope,” says Makatu.