University of Botswana students dominated this year’s Debswana Entrepreneurship Challenge after scooping first the third positions respectively. First prize of P50 000 went to fourth-year International Business and Economics students, Tumelo Asele (21) and Timothy Lewanika (23) for their Maru Farms Project while third prize went to second-year Mathematics of Finance and Finance students, Setso Seleke (22) and Tebo Lorraine Tshenolo (19) courtesy of their Columba Capital initiative.
The Entrepreneurship Challenge is one of Debswana’s Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development Programme (EEDP) initiatives.
University of Botswana students participated in this inaugural Entrepreneurship Challenge which ran from September 2022 to March 2023 alongside their peers from Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Botho University and Botswana Accountancy College (BAC).
The challenge was facilitated by TheNeoHub. Through the Entrepreneurship Challenge, Debswana and partner institutions sought to stimulate the transition of tertiary education research into scalable products, services, or businesses.
The challenge had three phases. The first phase was the Campus Tour which gave the students a platform to interact with the facilitators and university representatives as they gave insights on the requirements and application process. The second was the Bootcamp where students were offered coaching and mentoring sessions as they prepared for the Grand Finale.
total of 18 startups were selected to move to the second stage of the competition where there were pitch competitions and a total of eight startups moved to the final stage of judging. Out of the eight startups four were from the University of Botswana and they were judged by dragons to select the best teams as the final three. University of Botswana scooped positions one and three respectively.
Maru Farms Projects which won first prize is geared towards making Botswana as well as the rest of the region self-sufficient in food production. Asele and Lewanika believe that given Botswana’s erratic weather conditions, smart farming through the use of organic material is the way to go.
For Seleke and Tshenolo of Columba Capital the Entrepreneurship Challenge presented a perfect opportunity for them to further develop and implement their idea of creating a database for farmers. The duo believes that entrepreneurship needs mentorship coupled with emotional intelligence hence they thank UB Business Clinic and TheNeoHub for guidance and mentorship.