The lives of entrepreneurial students from the Central University of Technology (CUT) in the Free State are set to be transformed as Ford will be sponsoring them to represent South Africa, along with 32 other countries, that will participate in the prestigious Enactus World Cup in Puerto Rico from 30 October to 2 November 2022.
The Enactus team from CUT earned this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after being announced as the winners of the 2022 Enactus South Africa National Competition at the Sandton Convention Centre in July 2022 for their crop farming project, Village Fa. They beat 12 other student-led Enactus projects in South Africa to secure this year’s title.
The CUT team’s Village Fa project was also one of four finalists selected annually for the Ford College Community Challenge (C3), run in partnership with non-profit organisation Enactus Global, the Ford Motor Company Fund and Ford South Africa. Each year, four Enactus teams are chosen by Ford to receive a $5 000 grant to address urgent, unmet social needs in local communities in sustainable ways.
Enactus CUT used the grant to establish crop farming and introduce vermiculture to Gladstone Village, located in Thaba Nchu, Free State, as a means of improving the economic development of the area. They focused on creative approaches to dealing with protection of the environment, upskilling underprivileged communities, job creation, youth and woman economic empowerment and income generation.
Although the community has ownership of over 378 hectares of land, the team and community introduced crop farming to this cooperative by ploughing four hectares and planting two hectares of potatoes. This is transforming these villagers’ livelihoods as they were introduced to small-scale subsistence farming which they plan to grow into commercial farming capabilities of producing viable crops that meet the required standard of the commercial market. This provided the community with a much-needed source of income.
“Every year I am impressed and inspired by the exceptional ingenuity and enthusiasm from the Enactus participants,” said Neale Hill, President of Ford Motor Company Africa region. “This year was no different, but after two years of virtual interactions it was especially uplifting to experience their spirit and enthusiasm first-hand.
“We’re excited that the winning Enactus team from Central University of Technology will be participating on the global stage at the Enactus World Cup in Puerto Rico, and we are delighted to be sponsoring their participation at this event. This is a life-changing opportunity for them to meet like-minded students from across the globe and share their experiences and knowledge with other contestants. We know they will do us proud,” Hill added.
2023 Ford C3 projects selected
Looking ahead to 2023, Ford has selected four new projects from the teams entered in the 2023 Ford C3 Challenge for next year, of which each have received a $5 000 grant to implement their creative community upliftment initiatives.
The Central University of Technology has again been selected for its innovative and exciting initiatives, for cycle nine of the Enactus Ford C3 Challenge. Their new project aims to supply affordable and clean energy using generators driven by a synchronous motor. The project will target small businesses in need of backup power during loadshedding. By assisting these business owners with power generation, they will also create employment opportunities for electricians in the communities they work with.
The North-West University was selected for its Tala Loha project, which involves reusing plastic bags by turning these into handbags, hats and other items that can be sold for profit. Members of the community will be trained by a fashion designer to create their own designs and begin their fashion careers.
The University of Limpopo’s Diapers for Change project saw it selected as one of the four grant recipients. This initiative will work towards developing environmentally friendly diapers that will decompose after a short period, rather than pile up in landfills.
And, lastly, Nelson Mandela University was selected for its COMNET hydroponics project. Inspired by the current drought in the area, the Eastern Cape students will implement a hydroponic farming initiative. Hydroponics uses 97 percent less water than traditional farming methods, and the team will provide training to community members on these methods in an effort to tackle food insecurity while also creating jobs.
“I am already looking forward to next year’s event where we will have an opportunity to hear more about what the students have been able to achieve in their communities,” concluded Hill.