6 Things You Didn’t Know About ALA’s Student Enterprise Program

ALA’s innovative curriculum includes an immersive opportunity to practice entrepreneurship and leadership skills – All ALA students form teams and then run a business or non-profit organization for a full year with a simulated economy on our campus.

We bet you already knew that, though. If not, you can read all about our world-renowned Entrepreneurial Leadership course here. But there many aspects of our different entrepreneurship experiences at ALA that we don’t talk about often.. Here’s what you may have missed…

1 We’re a hotbed of acronyms, an ALA eccentricity

From Build (Believe, Understand, Invent, Listen, Deliver) to OID (Original Idea for Development) and SEP (Student Enterprise Program). Using the BUILD model, Year 1 students started their entrepreneurial journey by first identifying and addressing a challenge within the ALA community. Next, they are tasked with developing their own Original Idea for Development (OID), which requires them to address a specific need in their home communities. Finally, they undertake a one-month group OID challenge which sees them working in groups to devise a new, original idea to solve a pan-African challenge – and take to E-Fest (Student Enterprise Festival). The most viable ideas from E-Fest are then chosen to be part of the Student Enterprise Program (SEP) the following year, where they are provided with funding to run their business or social venture.

2 Any version of Dragon’s Den has nothing on student presentations

If you’ve seen the reality TV show that has startups presenting their ventures to potential investors, you’ll have an idea of what ALA’s Investment Council is like. Student teams prepare to pitch for funding to ALA’s very own entrepreneur in residence (Josh Adler) and CFO (Lara Rabiu) who then invest on average $5 000 each year into the different ventures on campus. Students have to arrive with a strong understanding of debt, equity and grant funding, make a clear ask for the type and size of investment they require, how they will spend the money and the impact the investment or donation will have. These Investment Council meetings have become notorious at ALA. It’s tough to get money from ALA’s Investment Council!

3 It’s led to the inception of 82 successful businesses

The Student Enterprise Program is proving a vital startup platform for students, with many businesses still viable and successful. It’s also encouraged the development of successful enterprises by alumni either while still at university or after completing their studies. Equally, other business ideas are incubated while at ALA as independent projects, supported by our faculty and coaches however possible. You can discover some examples of this in our recent Meet 5 Enterprising ALA Alumni feature.

4 Global corporations have helped shape student ventures

Skilled professionals from leading corporations make up volunteer advisory boards. These volunteers commit to 3 afternoon-long board meetings during the academic year – providing input that is both meaningful and critical to the students. Having access to industry experts to review their goals every term and offer advice and support is one of the most powerful aspects of ALA’s Student Enterprise Program.

Organizations that have served on ALA’s Student Enterprise Boards include: Coca-Cola, Discovery, Sodexo, SABS, Nestle, Anglo America, Edu Loan, BCG, McKinsey, GIBS, Techno Serve SA, Afroes, Eskom, Regent, Africare, GE, AT Kearney, Sparks Schools, Tiger Brands, Liberty Life, EY, Emerson, Lilly Green Cape and Netbank.

See here for how you, too, can make an impact on African’s young innovators as a voluntary advisor.

5 It’s a numbers game

There are 26-28 student enterprises per year; each is made up of a team of 4-6, and each team presents to an advisory board of 4-6 volunteers; four teams make it to E-Fest finals, with only one winning team emerging from two preliminary rounds, made up of judges that comprise their peers, Year 2s, staffulty and board members. Simple, really.

6 Original Ideas for Development come in all shapes and sizes

The range of project ideas are indicative of the creative outpouring from students, and the various challenges they perceive in their individual communities, and range from profitable enterprises in a range of industries including the Arts, Media, Science, IT, Management, Finance, and Agriculture and more, to non-profit organisations raising awareness on an equally wide range of issues – all with the intention and potential to create a large and lasting impact on the continent.  

And, finally, it culminates in E-Fest

Have we left anything out? If there’s still some aspects of our Entrepreneurial Programs you’re grappling with, let us know by commenting on our social media posts.

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