The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Bertha Centre of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship promotes social innovation for justice in South Africa, prioritising entrepreneurs who uplift communities. It integrates social innovation into the business school curriculum and offers R8 million in scholarships through a partnership with UCT GSB. Consider this initiative if you have a socially impactful business idea. Visit their website for updates and ways to get involved with their events and programmes.

Research Contracts and Innovation (RC&I)

The Research Contracts and Innovation (RC&I) department at UCT supports researchers in bringing their ideas to fruition and commercialising their inventions, to make a positive societal impact. This department also plays an important role in assessing the inventions and developments that arise from the biomedical engineering course, according to manager Saberi Marais. If you’re interested, you will have to apply for a research contract through the RC&I office at UCT, where your projects will need to receive budget approval and then be reviewed and finalised. Read more about this process here.

The Genesis Project

The Genesis Project addresses the lack of real-world entrepreneurship experience for students by offering a year-long Postgraduate Diploma in Management in Entrepreneurship (PDE), which allows them to set up and run real, registered businesses while receiving necessary mentoring and coaching. The initiative focuses on developing entrepreneurial leadership and management skills through 12 academic courses at an honours level. To join this initiative, apply via UCT’s website. It is an annual Honours-level Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship (PDE), run by the Faculty of Commerce at UCT.

GSB Solution Space E-Track Programme

Run in partnership with Ayoba, the E-Track Programme is a three-phase early stage venture acceleration and a capacity building programme for high impact entrepreneurs in South Africa and beyond. Taking a high-touch scale-up approach, the programme is designed to support teams build scalable businesses with international potential. Individual participants can either explore their own business idea or join an existing venture. The programme also serves as a platform for corporate partners to engage and collaborate on specific research and development agendas.

Fuel Africa (Futurize)

Fuel Africa is one of the largest cross-university and international innovation programme across the continent, energizing and connecting the best minds across universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to solve healthcare’s biggest challenges and to turn students into entrepreneurs. Network, find co-founders, build your skillsets, learn about entrepreneurship and receive world-class mentorship from AstraZeneca & Microsoft. 

Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika at UCT

The Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika at UCT is the continent’s first school dedicated to Design Thinking, offering a Foundation Programme that equips students with innovative strategies for problem solving. This knowledge, according to founding director Richard Perez, can be applied in various contexts to enhance customer experiences, design new products and shape new services. So, if you are one with an idea and an inclination to get your hands dirty and find innovative solutions for stubborn challenges, d-school is for you. To join this initiative, apply to one of their programmes. Learn more here.

Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship

The Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship gives African students and recent graduates the opportunity to access training, resources, financial support and a network of mentors to develop their entrepreneurial skills and start building their own venture. The 8-month program develops the exceptional entrepreneurial skillset and mindset of leaders to drive social and financial impact.

Menzi Design Laboratory

This initiative provides space, equipment and expertise for engineering students to develop non-curriculum projects towards prototypes and commercialization. The laboratory, located in UCT’s engineering faculty, is also equipped with manufacturing tools. The space is available to Engineering students, since it is located within the engineering faculty. To make the most of this initiative, students can pitch their ideas to Paul Amayo, and promising projects will receive funding. 

The Baxter Theatre Centre

The Baxter Theatre Centre is the only remaining fully operational theatre in the Western Cape, and they aim to support entrepreneurship from an arts perspective. There’s no denying that the arts are one of the toughest industries to enter into and stay in, especially in South Africa. This is according to Lara Foot, the Baxter Theatre Creative Director and CEO, and Fahiem Stellenboom, the Baxter Theatre Marketing Manager

Stepping Stone community-engagement video training programme and ScreenCubator

The Stepping Stone community-engagement programme, and follow-up programme ScreenCubator, allow aspiring filmmakers to access UCT’s film and media facilities, equipment, knowledge and support. The initiatives provide graduates with equipment, editing facilities, mentorship, small business training and industry connections needed to produce their first short film or production trailer. This experience and support set them on the path to starting their own production company. ScreenCubator hosts a pitching day once or twice a year where students can submit their project proposals, of which five to ten are chosen and supported for six months to a year.


Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE)

Annually Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) hosts a number of initiatives to further assist in developing the entrepreneurial capacity of students, academics and leaders with the intention for students to be more successful in terms of becoming economically active during and after their tertiary education. Some of these initiatives are:

  • Entrepreneurship Intervarsity

Entrepreneurship Intervarsity is held from March to October. This national competition sets out to identity the top student entrepreneurs at the South African public universities. It recognises and showcases their businesses and invite investment into this cohort of student businesses.  The competition is run internally, then provincially and finally nationally.

  • Student Entrepreneurship Week

Student Entrepreneurship Week is held in September. SEW is a one-week campaign that takes took place through the hosting of in-house programmes with business, industry and NPOs. The entrepreneurial and innovative campaigns are instrumental in raising awareness of  entrepreneurship as a career, as well as emphasising the benefits of having the best of both worlds as a student and an entrepreneur.

  • Lekgotla

Lekgotla is held in September. The Lekgotla is national event to share best practice, learn of latest trends and developments, and foster collaboration with regard to entrepreneurship in Higher Education.  UCT annually has very good representation on the panel discussion. – all to the benefit of the South African universities, students and economy. Stakeholders in the EDHE ecosystem gather to share their learning and experience, while working on identifying and addressing challenges in the space of entrepreneurship development.

Each of these programmes are focused in ensuring that students and academics are given a platform to explore, learn and share their knowledge and experiences within the Entrepreneurship arena.  These programmes are run within the 26 universities including University of Cape Town with the assistance of the Careers Service.

UCT Student Entrepreneurship Week

The Student Entrepreneurship Week (SEW) at UCT, held annually in the second semester, features talks and events aimed at educating students about entrepreneurship as a career option, promoting it as a viable path and emphasising the benefit of balancing student life with entrepreneurship. 

The Pitch UCT

The Pitch is a UCT entrepreneurial competition designed to enhance students’ skills and intentions by allowing them to present their new or existing start-up ideas and win up to R25 000 in seed capital and six months of business mentorship. Keep an eye on The Pitch UCT’s social media platforms for entry updates.

SAB Student Seed Fund

The SAB Student Seed Fund is responsible for funding seed capital to student-led businesses that demonstrate socially and environmentally impactful ideas. Through investing in impact, this initiative can give students with business ideas the chance to access seed capital and tackle social or environmental problems in low-income communities. The SAB Student Seed Fund’s Tholoana Enterprise Programme conducts a two-year support programme, which studentpreneurs can apply for once a year, after which 60 new students are brought into the programme each year. Students chosen to partake in this programme receive entrepreneurial skills development, mentorship and access to markets, finance and practical business tools and templates.