South Africans mean business in Cambridge

Published: 18 May 2012 at 10:18

UKTI choose Anglia Ruskin to help promote entrepreneurship in black townships

A group of young South African entrepreneurs will be developing their business skills during a three-day visit to Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

Anglia Ruskin’s Centre for Enterprise Development and Research (CEDAR) was chosen by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to host the group of 15 young business people as part of a project to promote enterprise in South African townships.

The South Africans will meet entrepreneurs, academics, students and the winners of last year’s Enterprise Fellowship Scheme, as well as attending the final of The Big Pitch, a business competition for Anglia Ruskin students.  During their visit to Cambridge, which lasts from 30 May until 1 June, they will also be taking part in sessions on business idea creation, growth, pitching and funding.

Professor Lester Lloyd-Reason, Director of CEDAR, said:

“The fact the Government has chosen Anglia Ruskin University to host part of the visit is testament to the innovative work we are doing here.  We don’t just teach people about theories and academic research; enterprise and entrepreneurship is central to everything we do.  
“Our students receive constant support and advice from a network of over 25 successful entrepreneurs from across the country.  These business people are hands-on and passionate about helping the next generation of entrepreneurs, and hopefully our South African visitors will be impressed by what they see and also learn a great deal at the same time.”

In addition to the UKTI, the South African Micro Enterprise Development Organisation (MEDO) and Enternships.com, an organisation which introduces talented students and graduates to start-up businesses, have been instrumental in arranging the visit.

CEDAR previously worked with MEDO and UKTI last winter when staff and students took part in a five-week tour of the South African townships to teach enterprise to young people.  During the trip individuals signed up for an enterprise development programme and were taken on by the MEDO team for further mentoring. 

The aim of the scheme is to help grow young South African entrepreneurs in preparation for international trade, particularly with the UK.  This is done through workshops, extended programmes, networking events and roadshows, and the programme aims to be supporting 400 entrepreneurs by the end of this year and 2,000 by the end of 2014.

The promotion of enterprise and entrepreneurialism amongst South Africa’s black population is high on the political agenda, with money raised from the South African Government’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Act helping to finance the projects.

Professor Lloyd-Reason added:
“This level of funding is needed.  There are no entrepreneurial role models for people living in the townships of South Africa and the barriers potential entrepreneurs must break through are considerable.”