Leaders of a Wits society received the Rising Star Award during the June Leadership Summit held at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
The Wits student organisation, AIESEC (an acronym in French for the International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences) was recently recognised as a Local Chapter which is part of the greater international society. The Wits Chapter managed to fulfill the required number of exchanges and projects within the past year.
Ten students from Wits attended the five-day June Leadership Summit (JLS). AIESEC members from a number of different universities were “all united in one venue!” said Rosina Mabapa, 3rd year BA student, representing AIESEC media and communications.
The summit focused on the relevance of African talent and explored leadership in South Africa and within AIESEC, according to Onthatile Nataboge, 4th year BEd and president of AIESEC Wits.
Arthur Motolla, 1st year BA student, attended JLS for the first time. He said speakers stressed the importance of embracing Africa’s mosaic of cultures instead of striving for a unique African identity.
Opportunity lies with the disadvantaged. That is where opportunities lie for entrepreneurs. That is where you can expect the most amount of growth.
“Opportunity lies with the disadvantaged. That is where opportunities lie for entrepreneurs. That is where you can expect the most amount of growth,” he said as he reflected on the things he learnt.
“I am still overwhelmed by JLS,” exclaimed Duduetsang Mmeti, 2nd year LLb. She expressed how students were encouraged to contribute African solutions to African problems.
They had speakers, companies and organisations who shared their knowledge and entrepreneurs who spoke about “the greatness of being an entrepreneur and creating jobs for people and why it’s important for our economy,” said Mmeti.
Two Wits students participated in global internship programmes in Mozambique over the winter break.
Thato Moganedi, 3rd year BA Psychology and Media Studies, was keen on going to another Southern African Development Community (SADC) country. “In the aspects of travelling, I don’t want to go over the ocean instead of knowing my neighbours,” she said.
She joined AIESEC in the beginning of the year for the opportunities of cultural exchange. And to go, “beyond tolerating other cultures and accepting and embracing cultures”.
“The total experience was phenomenal … We learnt a lot about social relations and power relations and Africa as a whole,” she said.
She worked with VGV (A Portuguese abbreviation for Global Vision for Life), a children’s organisation and international organisation Orion which works with mentally disabled children. She plans to return there for work once she is finished with her degree
Ayanda Ndaba, 2nd year BA Law, went to an international high school and took up the opportunity to join AIESEC when she came to Wits in 2012. “It was an opportunity for me to be active on campus and to be active in something I like doing,” she said.
What I drew out the most from the experience was how you can be accepted… There was a girl who couldn’t speak a word of English but we managed to communicate.
While in Mozambique she worked on the Millenium Youth Development programme, which was placed in a NGO on the outskirts of Maputo. “We assisted with a community centre”.
They worked with 10-14 year olds and tutored them in English, Maths, Human Rights and personal hygiene, “things aligned to the Millenium Youth Development Goals,” she explained. They also collected donations for the centre.
“What I drew out the most from the experience was how you can be accepted… There was a girl who couldn’t speak a word of English but we managed to communicate.” She is keen on applying what she learnt to non-profit organisations in South Africa.
AIESEC will host a meeting on August 8 to discuss events planned for the rest of the year and internships during December. Students interested in finding out more about AIESEC are welcome to join the meeting.
This article was featured on the Wits Vuvuzela
Student360, a venture started by Michael Ngarachu and Kenneth Oboni, could soon become Africa’s Facebook.
Ngarachu, a 21-year-old B.Com Honours in Finance student, has always been passionate about finance and started trading stocks when he was 10 years old. He is one of eight children and as the eldest son, he always had a drive to provide.
He started Student360 with his partner Oboni, who completed his BAccSci degree at Wits University last year. He wanted to do something that benefited people.
The big idea
Student360 is a business for students by students and aims to cater to the 360 needs of students. He got the idea a year ago when he saw students struggling to get textbooks at decent prices and incurring costs when looking for accommodation and searching for applications for bursaries, scholarships and jobs.
The business offers an online platform for students to find all the information they need on one generic site, a hub for online learning. Additionally, textbooks can be bought online at cheaper prices with free delivery. The team is currently developing an interactive website for students all over the country to access a database to exchange and find information.
Unlike online businesses that are sales-generated, explained Ngarachu, the website would be like LinkedIn for students. Students can register online and once verified, the team passes on their information to recruitment agencies.
A mobile application is also being developed for students to use, with free messaging and advertising. Systems like Dropbox for file-sharing and Skype for communication will also be put in place to make information sharing convenient and to help the learning process. The features will be available on the website from July.
Currently, the business is run by a three-man team and is funded by angel investors. Next year the team aims to employ students, help them gain work experience and earn money. Student360 will also be expanded to other campuses across the country.
We want it to be the Facebook of Africa.
The goal, according to Ngarachu, is to have the business student-owned for it to remain sustainable.
Ngarachu said proceeds were being reinvested into the business because of the huge potential for growth. “We want it to be the Facebook of Africa.”
In the beginning, coping with studies and running the business was hectic. “It took a big strain on me but at least it was worth it in the end,” he said.
By 2015, Ngarachu hopes that Student360 will be instrumental in improving the level of education in the country. Plans are being made to go into rural areas to expose students to technology. In the next five to 10 years, the team hopes to develop Student360 Capital to provide funding for student projects.
Ngarachu is inspired by Mark Zuckerberg, as well as the founders of Twitter. “They found something they are good at, a gap in the market and pursued it. A lot of people find these things but they don’t have the courage to pursue it.”
One of the biggest challenges faced by Student360 was finding investors to support young entrepreneurs. He advises other students who are thinking about starting businesses to “just do it because a lot of young, bright people get sucked into careers”.
“I think it’s important for young people to start thinking about entrepreneurship because that’s where the future of the country needs to be.”