13 March 2019 | Story Zama Feni | Photo Zama Feni
Career fair
UFS BCom (Marketing) student, Thandokazi Kiviet, who works part time for fellow master’s student Refilwe Xaba’s hair-product company, Glolooks, shows off their products to visitors at the Annual Careers Fair last week.

Budding student entrepreneurs from the University of the Free State presented their creative displays during the first part of the university’s 2019 Annual Careers Fair at the Callie Human Hall last week.

The first leg of the fair was in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, with more than 15 companies exhibiting their products and explaining to students their business operations, career prospects, and employment opportunities.

Students’ construction business gets off the ground

Three ladies, Mannini Setai (master’s in Law), Refilwe Mogole (PhD in Chemistry), and Nthabiseng Molejane (honours in the Humanities) registered their company, Ahang Amalmagate Trading, in 2016 and have been operating since late 2017.

Mogole said they are currently operating from a backyard in Parys, but they have a manager on site who deals with the technical aspects of their business and runs the daily operations. 

“We managed to buy a brick-making machine, which enabled us to make up to 1 000 bricks per day; at this stage, we provide bricks to private homeowners,” she said.

The ladies said winning three competitions last year gave them a financial boost that aided them greatly; these included the Nampak Entrepreneurship Competition, the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Tabalaza Pitching Programme, as well as the UFS Directorate for Research Development’s business pitching competition.

“As a result of these competitions, we managed to save some cash to buy ourselves a brick-making machine,” said Setai, adding that they are using social networks to market their product.

Hair-product business gives hope

Another student business stall was that of Glolooks – an emerging hair-products company established by UFS student, Refilwe Xaba, who has just finished her master’s programme in Entrepreneurship at the UFS. “The biggest challenge is access to the markets, but my business is doing fairly well here in Bloemfontein; our use of online media and social networks to market our products is keeping us there,” said Ms Xaba. She said she has just opened an ethnic hair salon in Westdene.

Taking it slowly, but surely

Another UFS student was Anet Matakala of Nettah Organics (Law degree) who makes organic products such as green tea, bath salts, chocolate coffee, cannabis butter, etc., from food-based ingredients. “It’s not an easy road, but step by step, we are getting there,” she said.

The last student was Keagan Nkwaira, who started a clothing company named ‘Weather’ last year. “What drove me to starting this venture was a passion for design and a need to raise cash. Business hasn’t been good so far, but I will have to find marketing initiatives that will get my work to the potential customers,” he said.

Career fairs benefit students

Head of Career Services, Belinda Janeke, said there will be four more career fairs catering for the Faculties of Law and Natural and Agricultural Sciences during the course of the year, and two general career fairs in May and August.

“The career fairs help to connect our students with the world of work, it helps to broaden the horizons for students because they can enquire about the products or services provided by the respective companies, and it can also create job and internship opportunities,” she said.  

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