Rhodes University was a development partner in one of two Eastern Cape projects selected for the Groundswell Accelerator – an interactive programme focusing on small entrepreneurs working in the green economy.
Dr Bongumusa Zuma of East London and Anele Popose of Port Elizabeth are the Eastern Cape’s only environmental entrepreneurs tojoin a cohort of 25 South African “enviropreneurs” focusing on business sustainability and upscaling their businesses over the next 18 months.
Groundswell is an interactive programme focusing on small entrepreneurs working in the green economy. It follows the Fetola model for growing small businesses that last by building entrepreneurial skills and cultivating sound business systems and practices. Since inception in 2007, participants in Fetola programmes typically grow by 50% per year, and have a long-term survival rate of close to 90%.
CEO of Fetola, Catherine Wijnberg, described the cohort as a group of sophisticated and savvy scientists, many of whom hold advanced degrees.
“It’s exciting to engage with entrepreneurs of this calibre. They are promoting renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, offering environmental consulting, providing water resource services as well as patenting new inventions,” she said.
Popose, who is the owner of Uvimba Energy & Securities, aims to address energy service requirements specific to the water sector. Uvimba recycles used engine, hydraulic and transformer oil from industrial and commercial waste streams. This saves the province potential water treatment costs because research shows that one litre of old engine oil has the potential to contaminate 1 million litres of fresh water. “Safe collection and disposal of this hazardous substance means that we are playing an active role in saving our fresh water resources,” says Popose.
Zuma’s company, Lugaju Innovations, offers the Aqua Screen, a product that he developed in partnership with a team at Rhodes University to help ordinary people who are concerned about contaminated drinking water. South Africans are rightly concerned about infrastructural decay and subsequent reduction of water quality in urban and rural areas.
“I wanted to develop a simple, easy to use and cost-effective technology that any person can use,” he said.
Additionally, he hopes that the product will create a large-scale community-based water quality monitoring programmes that creates employment in areas where jobs are few. Zuma is looking for financiers or manufacturing technical experts to partner with him so that he can scale up his production facility.
The next workshop covers costing and pricing, which a crucial fundamental for any small business. Groundswell is supported by seed funding from JP Morgan. Entrepreneurs wishing to apply for similar business development support are invited to visit Fetola’s website: www.fetola.co.za/projects and register their interest at firstname.lastname@example.org