/ 27 October 2023

UKZN hosts Inspiring Impact Challenge

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The shortlisted entrants for the UKZN Inspiring Impact Challenge who underwent the accelerator training programme in preparation for the main pitching event.

The annual competition showcases initiatives tackling challenges in alignment with the UN’s SDGs

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is gearing up for the finals of the 2023 UKZN Inspiring Impact Challenge — an annual competition showcasing initiatives by UKZN students, staff and alumni. Participants in the competition are social entrepreneurs tackling some of society’s biggest challenges in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

Now in its third year, the competition forms part of the UKZN Inspiring Impact Campaign. This year’s instalment kicked off with a call for submissions in August. Following a rigorous screening and shortlisting process, 30 out of around 220 entrants were selected. 

Those 30 entrants who made the cut are currently undergoing a three-week accelerator training programme, led by enterprise development agency and implementing partner, Kulisha Consulting. 

The training is aimed at preparing competitors for the main event and focuses on leadership, design thinking, business modelling, sustainability and pitch readiness. 

The competitors, divided up into four categories — undergraduate students; postgraduate students; staff; and alumni — are experts in various disciplines including mathematics, agriculture, business management and engineering. The focus of the projects to be showcased ranges from youth empowerment and career guidance to STEM education and Agribusiness. 

Managing Director of Kulisha Consulting Kwazini Zulu says this year’s competition has gained more women entries as well as more international attention: “There are a number of local projects with international reach as well as entries from alumni who are based in a few Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. We are impressed with the calibre of entrants and excited to see how they’ll perform as we enter the next phase of this competition.”

The finalists, to be shortlisted on 24 October, will go on to compete in the main event on 30 October, where they will deliver elevator pitch presentations on each of their social enterprises to a panel of judges comprising experts from the banking industry, academia and small and medium-sized enterprises. 

The event will culminate in a prize-giving ceremony where winners will be awarded monetary prizes, grant funding and business mentorship opportunities, made possible by partner organisations: Standard Bank, Mail & Guardian, Cloud Therapist, UKZN Student Governance and Leadership Development (SGLD), and The Social Enterprise Academy.