Entrepreneur Traction and Columbia Business School Business Growth Programme

A class of 30 local entrepreneurs from Cape Town attended the Entrepreneur Traction and Columbia Business School workshop at the V & A Waterfront’s Workshop17.

The program ran from Wednesday 3 May till Thursday 4 May.

120 Columbia Business School executive MBA students attended the event, in a quest to assist local entrepreneurs from areas such as Mitchell’s Plain, Philippi, Athlone and Gugulethu, to name a few.

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“The executive MBA students are in South Africa because every year part of the program allows them to choose a place to go to. Some of the places are China, India and Russia. They chose to come to South Africa, some of them are travelling with their spouse. They are inquisitive, smart and bring knowledge from all around the world,” said Vuyisa Qabaka, the organiser at Entrepreneur Traction, and a partner of the South African Business Angel Network.

The Executive MBA students were divided into groups to assist the 30 entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs were from industries related to fashion, design, technology, finance, health, digital media, social development and various sectors.

Professor Don Weiss, from the Columbia Business School said that the partnership with Entrepreneur Traction has been going on for four years. And in the four years of its existence, it has helped many businesses from Africa to prosper on a global scale.

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“Each year we have 30 companies participating. We have 120 Executive MBA students this year. The students interact directly with the entrepreneurs and receive a business plan, they do the research with the entrepreneurs, while the entrepreneurs share the areas they want help with,” he added.

This year, there were 68 start-ups that applied for the initiative, however, the position was for 30 start-ups who needed the assistance the most.

Suraya Williams from Mitchell’s Plain, the founder of DesignTwentySix said she has a passion for entrepreneurship, she has a start-up based in Philippi Village, and she aims at empowering young girls to become female entrepreneurs so that they can stay away from social violence.

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“I design garments and I would love it to expand. When I finish a garment, I can’t believe it was done by me. But I don’t want it to be a business just about me, it should be there to uplift the community and to empower young girls to follow their passion,” she added.

David Naidoo, the founder of Grownet Technologies said, “I started my transport business eight years ago, and then I started my technology company a year ago; which is a spin-out of the transport business. We found it difficult to access the market. We want to help to improve the South African economy by disrupting the transport industry.”

The workshop ran until Thursday noon, with a number of local entrepreneurs finding access to funding, sharp business plans and a continuation of communication on a local and global scale.

“The challenges we face are when entrepreneurs do not pitch up. However, many of the entrepreneurs we have worked with in past have gone on to represent Africa on a global market,” concluded Professor Don Weiss.

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