Since January 2013, hundreds of high-school learners from schools across the country have participated in Junior Achievement South Africa’s (JASA) Mini Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Academy Programmes gaining access to skills on how to manage their own small businesses. In September, these initiatives culminated in the Junior Innovators awards ceremony at Investec recognising learners who have demonstrated promising entrepreneurial potential.
The Junior Innovators Competition, now in its second (2nd) year was jointly developed by Investec and JASA with the aim of stimulating entrepreneurial skills and thinking among learners in grades 10 and 11.
Learners who participated in any Junior Achievement Mini Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Academy Programmes were invited to apply for the Junior Innovators Competition, 40 of whom were then selected on the basis of their business idea to participate in the week-long entrepreneurship training workshop at Investec in Johannesburg. During the final workshop, mentors, all JASA alumni, played a role in helping leaners refine their business ideas by exposing them to the basics of business, microeconomics, business ethics and ways of improving their entrepreneurial potential.
The competition gave learners an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned through JASA’s programmes as well as the rigorous entrepreneurship training workshop hosted by Investec.
Linda McClure noted, “The Junior Innovators Competition is a fantastic opportunity for learners who have participated in a Junior Achievement Programme. The intensive four-day workshop exposes learners to various aspects of entrepreneurship and the structure of the competition ensures that learners have to work in teams as well as individually. The experience for the learners is invaluable and great appreciation goes to Investec for making this possible.”
Finalists were judged based on a number of attributes. These relate to their products as well as their business acumen, including their willingness to take risks, and their resilience, passion and confidence about their business idea. With this year’s theme being innovation, judges also took into account the quality of innovation and knowledge of a respective industry and target market. The learner who developed the most innovative business idea and was selected as the winner of the competition received R60 000 towards their tertiary study at a university of their choice.
Setlogane Manchidi, head of Investec Corporate Social Investment (CSI), believes the Junior Innovators Competition is an ideal fit with Investec’s philosophy in this area as it is underpinned by the two strategic pillars of education and entrepreneurship. Commenting on this year’s competition, Mr Manchidi says: “Our focus on entrepreneurship is deliberate. At Investec, we believe that by developing a generation of entrepreneurs we will be able to create opportunities for employment, wealth creation and socio-economic growth. Through the Junior Innovators Competition, we are able to identify entrepreneurial talent and provide an opportunity for these individuals to grow into some of South Africa’s successful future business leaders.”
The winner of the Junior Innovators Competition was announced at a gala dinner hosted at Investec on Thursday 26 September 2013. Kholofelo Ramalepe from Motse Maria Secondary School in Limpopo walked away with 1st prize for her innovative melodical fishing rod – a fishing rod with a water proof motion sensor. The rod will sense fish in close proximity to the rod, guaranteeing both commercial and subsistence fishermen with results. Kholofelo completed her Mini Enterprise Programme, funded by MasterCard earlier this year. 2nd place went to Iqbaal Osman’s innovative three-in-one stapler, punch and staple remover, Iqbaal studies at Merebank Secondary School in KZN, Iqbaal attended a Mini Enterprise Programme funded by Federal Mogul. Lonwabo Ncanda from Princess High School in Johannesburg was awarded 3rd place, he devised an online music store which will create a platform for young and upcoming musicians and producers, he completed a Mini Enterprise Programme funded by Citi.
These follow appropriately from the high standard set by the 2012 finalists and particularly Junior Innovator competition finalist, Keith Mbaso from Eqinisweni Secondary school, who went on, as part of a team to win the SA HP Global Social Innovation Relay with the idea of converting kinetic energy from a playground to power households near the playground and, in so doing, assist the community.