E-Fest: Innovating Student Enterprises

The Entrepreneurship Festival (E-Fest) is an annual hallmark event which showcases the ideas that our Year 1 students have incubated over the course of their Original Idea for Development (OID) BUILD Challenge.

Our first-year students engage in entrepreneurial leadership in the second term of their first year where they apply a human centered approach to identifying real needs and opportunities on the continent and finding real solutions to them.

Students are then grouped together in two teams based on similar themes that address their passions. The goal is for them to identify a pan-african problem and come up with  a pan-african solution.

Student go through a one-month group OID challenge during which they worked in groups to devise a new, original idea solving a pan-African challenge. This is the process that they present during E-Fest. The best ideas feed into the Student Enterprise Programme (SEP) next year.

Students dress to impress in their afro-formal attires, ready to present from 8h30. Each team had 20 minutes for presentations: 7 minutes to present their solution and 13 minutes to answer questions.

Year 2 student have been involved in the Student Enterprise Programme (SEP). This is a year-long simulator of an economy run, in which 23 teams of students operate enterprises on our campus. E-Fest is an opportunity for Year 2 students to participate in interactive workshops, promote, and showcase their student enterprises and be recognized for their consistent efforts through the Student Enterprise Awards.

We asked Nkembo Kiala, 2018/2019 Manager of the Student Enterprise Program in the Entrepreneurial Leadership Faculty to explain a bit more on what the Student Enterprise Program is about.

“One of our strategic goals at ALA is to be leading in innovation and learning, and within that space, the Student Enterprise Program fits in very well. The program is a simulation of a real-life economy that is run by the Entrepreneurial Leadership Faculty on campus where students get a chance to exercise and practice real-world business application. It is a simulation of applying for funds through an investment council that is headed up by the EL faculty as well. Through this, they are provided funds either in the form of a grant or a loan which they have to pay back. They have their own CEO’s, financial officers, practice budgeting, and have to meet certain deliverables,” he says.

In combination with this project-based learning practice, external stakeholders are brought in to help hold students accountable in the form of board meetings. Boards have three contact sessions a year where students are extensively questioned and quizzed on what it is that they are doing, what their goals and milestones are, and how they plan to achieve their objectives.

Incorporating board members into the SEP has been increasingly beneficial, as students learn that they can leverage some of the board expertise as well.

Our judges this year, included a former staffulty member, Lebogang Mothibatsela. Having taught the program and now being on the other side, she was strongly convinced that the OID process is a great way for students to iterate all the tools that exist in the business world.

“I think this process is very essential for young people to start to understand the language of the world out there. They have passion. The want to make things happen, but they need to know what a business model canvas is, what it actually means to think about stakeholders, users, and how they come together.”