The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) University Challenge has awoken local youth’s entrepreneurial spirit, creating an environment of competitiveness amongst them.
This is the view of Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, who was speaking at a ceremony to unveil the competition’s first-ever winner recently.
Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) student, Lebogang Pule was crowned the victor after his compost-making business idea was declared the best, beating off stiff competition from the other nine finalists.
The budding entrepreneur walked away with P200, 000 prize money plus an additional P10, 000 given to all ten finalists.
Chosen for being cost-effective, as it uses discarded biodegradable material, such as waste paper and agricultural waste found in landfills, Pule’s scheme involves introducing earthworms and water to garbage.
The worms then break the garbage down down by eating it, eventually excreting castings that contain high volumes of nutrients and reduced levels of contaminants.
His idea is a three-tiered approach to unemployment, environmental care as well as the production of healthy fertilizer that presents little or no negative effects on the environment.
Speaking to the finalists, who had made it to the top ten from over 200 entrants, Masisi said they should regard the competition as a catalyst to their impending careers as promising entrepreneurs.
He commended CEDA and DBSA for initiating the challenge, which is to be held yearly, predicting that it would help transform the nation into a hub of real-time solutions to the various problems faced by society.
“Keep the dream alive, as I believe this provided a platform of innovativeness that will contribute to the knowledge-based economy that we aspire to become,” he urged the two financial institutes, who each contributed P100, 000 towards the competition.
At the competition’s launch last year, DBSA Chairperson, Patrick Dlamini had pledged P100, 000 to the competition winner and a further P25, 000 if the chosen business idea belonged to a female.
The Government, through the Vice President, had also pledged to match the DBSA offer, taking the grand prize to the P200, 000 scooped by Pule.
Speaking at the cheque presentation, Dlamini implored the Government to increase the money to highs of P1 million to fund innovative ideas that could ultimately create employment and address societal problems.
For his part, a clearly impressed Minister Of Investment, Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse, said, “It is my belief that the ideas received through this challenge have unearthed some viable and implantable solutions that could make a social impact.”
Seretse added that he had challenged the private sector to make initiatives to foster innovation and self-development particularly amongst the youth and the CEDA/DBSA University Challenge is one such initiative to be copied.