07 November 2023 | Story NONSINDISO QWABE | Photo SUPPLIED
Thembinkosi Mkhwanazi
Egg-cellence: Thembinkosi Mkhwanazi won the central regional rounds of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) competition for his egg business, Egg Palace.

What started as a side hustle to bring in extra income has turned into a thriving venture for UFS Qwaqwa Campus student Thembinkosi Mkhwanazi, who has begun reaping the rewards of his hard work.

In October, Mkhwanazi came out victorious at the central regional rounds of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) competition in the Existing Businesses category for studentpreneurs for his egg business, Egg Palace. He is in his third year of a BA degree specialising in Psychology.

The EDHE entrepreneurship intervarsity competitions are intended to develop the entrepreneurial capacity of students with the intention of equipping them with the necessary skills needed to become economically active during and after their tertiary education. The 26 South African universities are grouped into six regions, and studentpreneurs get to pitch their innovative ideas or existing businesses for a chance to win the national rounds.

Mkhwanazi’s pitch came out on top, sealing his place at the nationals and a fighting chance at the R100 000 cash prize.

He started his egg-producing business in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, buying organic eggs from a supplier and selling them to students and Qwaqwa community members.

Since then, his business has grown astoundingly, and Mkhwanazi now owns 165 chickens housed in a chicken house in Qwaqwa. This expansion has allowed Mkhwanazi to increase his egg production and cater to a wider customer base on the Qwaqwa Campus and within the local community.

“I won the internal rounds and the regional round, but I’ve realised that winning was a bonus. Since being on this journey, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of people who’ve inspired me to grow my business and how to be unique. I also got to board a plane for the first time. The win has just been the cherry on top, but there’s so much that I’ve gained from this experience.”

Entrepreneurship helps students improve their (self-) employability and livelihoods 

He said he was inspired by the likes of UFS Qwaqwa Campus alum Jabulani Mabuza, who also won the 2022 EDHE regional rounds and made it to the nationals. Making it through the regionals was a wake-up call, he says, which motivated him to invest more time and effort into his business.

“I was in my comfort zone and wasn’t marketing my business properly, but I’ve since taken that seriously, and I’m already seeing a huge boost in sales and public awareness,” he said.

Mkhwanazi said he would like to see the university supporting student entrepreneurs to establish themselves. “There are a lot of us who are entrepreneurs who need more exposure and support to grow. The courses offered at our institution encourage us to be entrepreneurial. If we can be given more opportunities, we’d be able to grow and become self-reliant.”

The national leg of the EDHE competition will take place from 30 November to 1 December 2023.

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