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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

When entrepreneurship meets industrial innovation
2014-12-13

Johan Eksteen (Photo: Supplied)

Internationally acclaimed Argicon Pelleting is a worldwide supplier of pelleting machinery and equipment as well as agri-processing factories. The company was established in 1993 by André and Johan Eksteen, UFS 2004 MBA graduate. After taking over sole ownership, the company grew from a one-man business to an internationally respected specialist in the design and manufacturing of pelleting solutions for the agricultural industry.

A common practice in industrial procedures, pelleting involves processing material into small dry pellets. This is used globally by manufacturers of animal feed or recycling facilities that specialise in processing materials for reuse. This process, however, can only be successfully accomplished with specialised equipment, namely a pelletizer. With fifteen years’ experience in agriculture, and international exposure in countries such as Uganda, Australia, Singapore and New Caledonia, this was not a tall order for Johan.

Agricon focuses on consistently developing innovative ways to add value to its offering. The business has successfully installed pelleting equipment for a range of products, including tobacco dust, rooibos tea, human sludge waste, organic fertilizers and vermi-compost. In addition to the manufacturing of machines and equipment, the company also provides training and on-site installation for clients, as well as support following a sale or the provision of spare parts. The company also provides advice on new product developments and business opportunities for clients within the sector.

Apart from doubling its sales between 2013 and 2014, the company gained great recognition within the industry. Johan was awarded the University of the Free State Business School’s Entrepreneur award in 2013 and he is the first-prize winner of the ILO Free State EnterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge for 2014. He is currently one of 15 finalists countrywide in the Entrepreneur of the Year competition sponsored by Business Partners and Sanlam. Johan is the mentor and stand-in manager for Almenta, a skills development company (winner of the ILO Best Social Entrepreneur for Skills Development award) and Equus Groom School (winner of the ILO Social Entrepreneur in Youth Development award).

Johan was also announced as the winner of the SA entrepreneur of the year for small businesses.

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