by Prof Mthuli Ncube
As this year takes off at Wits Business School, we are excited to have the opportunity to host the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Global Startup Workshop (MIT GSW) in Cape Town. This is a first for WBS and a first for the continent. It also takes us that much further in our mission to “Sculpt Global Leaders in Africa”.
The MIT GSW – held this year on March 25 to 27 in conjunction with Wits Business School’s Centre for Entrepreneurship -- is considered the world’s top conference on fostering entrepreneurship through supportive and catalytic infrastructure. Its aim is to help budding entrepreneurs make a success of their businesses and provide them with a support network that will cushion them as they get their business up and running. Not only will we be helping those who can afford to participate but, with the help of Vodacom Business, the workshop’s technology sponsor, we will be reaching out to poorer communities in Limpopo, the Western Cape and other regions.
While the actual conference will be hosted at Cape Town’s Pavilion Conference Centre, various regional municipalities have been encouraged to set up satellite centres in their community halls with a television to transmit the conference activities. Vodacom Business will be the interactive component, enabling participants to send questions via text message directly to the conference coordinator.
This event – held every year in a different country - is organised by MIT students in conjunction with staff and students at the host school. The type of infrastructure that it fosters is apparently epitomized by MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is a strong support network for entrepreneurs starting their own businesses.
After the conference, we are hoping to take this model and emulate this ecosystem for our own budding entrepreneurs in South Africa and on this continent.
Among the speakers are likes of Jonathan Ortmans, the president of the international Public Forum Institute. He oversees the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurs, an initiative to advance public understanding of the relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship and the economy and human welfare. There are a number of very impressive CEOs and business people among the speakers and panelists.
Back on our campus, we welcome a few brilliant minds to WBS to help us improve on the products we offer.
Firstly, we have a new Marketing and Communications Director, Manola Sanchez Aragu. Manola, an MBA graduate, brings with her over 20 years of strategic marketing experience, particularly in the field of tertiary education.
We welcome Dr Kerryn Myres, the new director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE). She established the Richard Branson School of Entrepreneurship at Cida City Campus and was the founder and CEO of Resonance, a research-based consultancy which specialises in the design and evaluation of entrepreneurial development programmes.
Professor Boris Urban has taken up the Lamberti Chair Foundation in Entrepreneurship. Prof Urban was one of the first people in South Africa to have completed a PhD specialising in entrepreneurial studies from the University of Pretoria, where he was awarded the SASOL prize for best PhD student.
We welcome back senior finance lecturer Max Mackenzie. Finally, we welcome our new senior lecturer Dr Wendy Ngoma and two new case study writers, Amanda Bowen and Alison Gaylard.
May they – and all our new students -- have much success at WBS.
Professor Mthuli Ncube