for tomorrow



By Khanyisa Melwa

IT and software development students have recently taken to mobile application (app) development as a means to start their own businesses.

Zandre Botha, a BSc Computing Science graduate from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) recently developed SquashBot, an app that allows squash players to get the latest results, logs, fixtures and functions.

SquashBot was the official system used for Jarvis Kaplan 2015 (the squash version of the Currie Cup).  This is where the top squash players from each province competed this month - the Jarvis Kaplan Cup.

He was approached to develop this app by the organisers of the tournament earlier this year, but he had been working on it whilst completing his BSc honours degree last year.

“I’m going to continue developing and improving the app. I just want to make it better,” says Botha.

Prof Jean Greyling, Head of the Computing Science department at NMMU credited partnerships with industry for their students’ successes.

“Zandre Botha’s success with his squash app is a confirmation of the quality of the work done by our students as well as a direct result of our collaboration with the local ICT incubator,” says Greyling.

He adds: “Mobile apps create exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs,”

NMMU alumni trio: Curwyn Mapaling, Tafadzwa Kachara and Blessing Jonamu recently launched bursary matching mobile application named SAScholar.

SAScholar is a bursary matching mobile application (app). It was developed by Blessing Jonamu, an MSc Computing Science student from NMMU and promises to provide over 7000 bursary options worth R1 million.

The app is designed to sift through all the bursaries on their database and matches them with suitable candidates according to the information they furnish on their profiles. It also allows users to set notifications that remind them of the application deadlines.

The first car-sharing company in Africa, Locomute, was launched in June and it too, provides a service to clients via an app. The service allows subscribers to access cars parked in parking spaces called “Loco-parks”, by swiping their membership cards on the windscreens.

Co-founders Tumi Marope and Ntando Kubheka are both NMMU Business School MBA graduates. They were inspired to start the business as part of their MBA project, as they saw that this is a business model which only existed in Europe and other parts of the world.

Prof. Margaret Cullen, MBA lecturer at the NMMU Business School warns that not all apps that are developed will necessarily be successful business opportunities.

“Any aspect of entrepreneurial success depends on the market demand and the ability of the entrepreneur to take it to the market,”  says Prof. Cullen

“It depends on what the app is. In general there are some successful apps that are viable opportunities and have had an impact but then there are also a lot that have been dismal failures,” – she says.

Captains of industry have supported such initiatives citing that apps make life easier.

“I definitely endorse the development of apps by students. Apps are there to make lives easier and to change lives. Apps are the way to go” says Wonga Mfula, EP Kings IT manager.

Mfula also cautions budding tech entrepreneurs to always do their research.

“It’s not going to help to just design an app for the sake of it. You need to look at the market and see where and who needs it. Market research is key,” says Mfula.