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25 April 2019 | Story Mamosa Makaya

Since 2016, the University of the Free State Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has received a grant from First National Bank worth R2 498 000, which supports tertiary bursaries for students with disabilities. Bursary holders are funded through CUADS, as the administrator of the bursaries.
  
These are students enrolled for various academic programmes who require academic assistance and/or assistive devices such as electronic handheld magnifiers, laptops, and hearing aids. The FNB grant also covers tuition, accommodation, study material and books, and meals.  The success of the grant is already evident, with one of the recipients having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2018. A second student was capped at the April 2019 graduations with a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying.
 
Supporting the principles of the ITP

The UFS received the grant from FNB in instalments, starting in the 2016 academic year to date, supporting the needs of 40 disabled students. This grant and the work of CUADS speaks to and supports the principles of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP), namely inclusivity, transformation, and diversity. The vision of the Universal Access work stream is to enable the UFS to create an environment where students with disabilities can experience all aspects of student life equal to their non-disabled peers. The ITP provides for the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities as an important lesson in social justice and an opportunity to reinforce university values.

The successful administration of the grant to benefit past and present students is a ‘feather in the cap’ of CUADS, and is a shining example of the impact of public private investment and the endless possibilities that open up when there is a commitment to developing future leaders in academic spaces, allowing them to thrive by creating a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering. 



News Archive

Out-of-the-box thinking a plus for next generation of agribusiness leaders
2017-07-07

Description: Agribusiness leaders Tags: Agribusiness leaders 

The winners of the 12th IFAMA International Student
Case Competition from Team South Africa are from
the left: JW Swanepoel, University of the Free State,
Melissa van der Merwe, University of Pretoria,
Heinrich Jantjies, Stellenbosch University, and
Johann Boonzaaier, also from Stellenbosch University.
Photo: Supplied



The International Food and Agribusiness Management Association’s International Student Case Competition, in its 12th year, brings together students from around the world to demonstrate their investigative and problem-solving skills to provide innovative solutions to practical problems.

JW Swanepoel, a PhD student at the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of the Free State (UFS) was part of an advanced case study team, representing South African universities, who won IFAMA’s International Student Case Competition. Swanepoel also presented results from his PhD study at IFAMA’s conference in Miami, Florida, where the winners were announced.

Competition a global stage to showcase solutions

The competition provides a global stage for students and their associated universities to showcase the next generation of agribusiness leaders.

This year the featured agribusiness was Bayer Crop Science. Although this company managed to expand its global footprint through its Food Chain Partnership, it faced some challenges to expand in emerging economies through small-scale farmers. Being from the African continent, Swanepoel and his team not only understood Bayer’s unique challenge but could also pre-empt some of the potential problems faced by agribusinesses that wanted to grow their footprint in emerging economies. This provided them with a competitive advantage in going head-to-head with some of the best universities in the world such as Purdue, Wageningen, Michigan, Texas A & M and Santa Clara to mention just a few.

The South African team’s presentation “Selling Lindiwe’s story” told the story of a small-scale woman cassava farmer in Mozambique who, after the death of her husband, became the main breadwinner. The South African team indicated how Bayer could play a major role in not only selling chemicals to these farmers but even more importantly to change the stories of small-scale farmers like Lindiwe. They recommended a strategic partnership with AB InBev as the main buyer for the cassava produced by these small-scale farmers, as a cheaper beer base substitute. They also recommended a local partner (Value Chain Insights) that understood the political, social and economic environment of these countries to facilitate the relationships between Bayer and its small-scale farmers.

Understanding the challenge a competitive advantage

According to the panel of judges, the innovative approach and motivations for investing in strategic partnerships with AB InBev and Value Chain Insights went beyond financial benefits, to include corporate social responsibility and rural development. Lindiwe’s story was, however, the decisive factor. The South African team was the only team to put a face and a story to the often invisible small-scale farmers.

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