While packing for South Africa, I had difficulty selecting clothes would be the most appropriate for Cape Town climate and culture. My main solution was to pray and pack a vast variety of outfits. While I am far from dressing like a Capetonian, my clothing fit well with my recreational and work activities. The business casual atmosphere of my work placement made my packing selection even easier since I have been able to wear the same clothes for work and social settings.
However, my placement at TSiBA has been appropriate for far more significant reasons than closet compatibility. The Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA) is pronounced the same as a Xhosa word meaning “to jump.” (This is the language of the Xhosa people, who make up a large percentage of the Cape Town population.) The school provides Bachelors of Business Administration degrees and majors in entrepreneurship very similar to my own. Instead of paying tuition, the school raises funds for the students and they earn their degree by completing community service in replace of their fees. This allows more students from low income communities to receive the same privileges of affluent scholars. TSiBA’s curriculum is demonstrably successful, shown by its production of five Mandela Rhodes scholars for the previous five years (similar to a Rhodes Scholar in the States).
My position resides in the TSiBA Ignition Centre which is home for all entrepreneurial activities and the mission to “ignite opportunities.” The Centre manages the academic curriculum for the entrepreneurship major as well as the Centre’s members, consisting of entrepreneurs from the local community. As Director of the Centre, Mr. Oliver manages the program activities, Ms. Hagins works as the Coordinator of the Centre, wearing many hats, and Ms.Krawe is in charge of growing the Ekasi Academy program. Ekasi students are entrepreneurs in the township Khayelitsha, who take Accelerator Venture courses to develop their enterprise ideas. I support these individuals and the Centre’s program activities as the Ignition Centre intern. The Ignition Centre’s culture is a happy fusion of warmth and professionalism, leaving me grateful and comfortable at TSiBA.
My assorted tasks have given me a diverse exposure to entrepreneurship in South Africa. The Centre is very mobile, allowing me to visit many of TSiBA’s partners and community events. The first trip I took out of the office was to Khayelitsha to listen to Ekasi students’ business pitches. This was my first week at work and my first encounter with life inside a township. To hear more about my experience, feel free to read the blog posts I wrote for TSiBA HERE (just look for my byline at the bottom of the last four articles). Along with this post, you will find three other post describing my trip to Cape Peninsula University of Technology CPUT), and my observations of student business pitches.
Apart from those events, my other external visit was with a well established micro-lending firm in the City Bowl. While it is early to discuss many of the details from the meeting, I can say that it went so well that I received two chocolate chip muffins and an orange juice carton to celebrate the success of our team. Since the meeting I have created a Prezi and an excel spreadsheet, further defining the potential start of a new partnership.
Stay tuned to hear if I receive a third muffin for my work...