Written by Thandiwe Jumo
A “Meet Your Business Friend Day” event hosted by the SHAPE (Shifting Hope, Activating Potential Entrepreneurship) in partnership with UKZN, the eThekwini Municipality and the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) created a platform for networking and sharing of ideas between established entrepreneurs, business professionals and entrepreneurship students.
The event, at the Durban Undersea Club, allowed business professionals to share their knowledge and entrepreneurship skills as well as their contribution towards their KwaZulu-Natal’s Regional Economic Development with the students who in turn shared their entrepreneurial aspirations with the professionals. It is envisaged that through such social entrepreneurship initiatives – which expose students to the business industry and the business industry to the students – partnerships will be created which contribute towards stimulating entrepreneurial thinking and a start-up culture essential to the sustainability and economic growth of KwaZulu-Natal.
At the event, participants took part in an interactive workshop facilitated by Graduate School of Business and Leadership academic, Dr Shamim Bodhanya. The workshop involved the participants in fun actives aimed at building friendships and exploring leadership and business strategies. International top Surf-Lifesaving athlete and world class sport achiever, Mr Wade Krieger, was part of the event to inspire young entrepreneurs and co-ordinated the beach activities with Bodhanya.
The day used innovative societal technologies of combining Multiple Intelligence pedagogy practices, with Living Theories, Action Learning and Participatory Action Research. It had a distinct purpose of introducing young entrepreneurs and business professionals to each other, hoping to increase each other’s levels of entrepreneurial self-efficacy and forming business friendships. The beach day unfolded into a beautiful happening of emerging social science.
The Founder of the SHAPE Project, UKZN academic and doctoral candidate, Ms Thea van der Westhuizen said: ‘It was about relating like-hearted people, sharing business passions and getting inspired by one human being to another. It was about raising levels of self-confidence of being a young entrepreneur in South Africa and not being scared to network with business professionals. It was about stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks through finding a business friend through beach activities and creative play that symbolises real life situations. It’s about placing people first, returning to creative play and finding fun filled purpose in an era that is driven by idolising money and capitalism. It’s about inspiring greatness and being inspired to greatness,’ she said.
Business partners and students described the event as a great way to network, exchange knowledge and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in business.
Mr Thabani Nsele of Inamandla Mathematics Education and Entrepreneurial Platform said he learned a lot about building friendships and came up with a lot of new business ideas; while Mr Richard Hoffmann-Jensen of Truck and Plant Engineering said the event was a positive step towards forming lasting business relationships and he called for more events of this nature in the future.
From a student’s perspective, SHAPE candidate Mr Andile Xaba said the enriching experience exposed him to the fun side of business. ‘The business professionals I met were very helpful and approachable. It was inspiring to get advice on my ideas from people who have been in the industry for years and I am looking forward to applying this newly acquired knowledge,’ said Xaba