for tomorrow

NMMU News

30/10/2015

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Happimo NPC announced the launch of the Mandela Bay Entrepreneurship Fellowship in Port Elizabeth today.

The fellowship will be available to Masters and PHD graduates from the Department of Computing Sciences and the School of ICT at NMMU. It is aimed at promoting postgraduate studies and entrepreneurship in ICT.

The winner of the fellowship will receive a minimum of R100,000 to be used for their start-up initiative.

Neither Happimo NPC, a non-profit company focuses on software that solves government problems, nor NMMU will have any financial stake in the venture at a later stage, irrespective of its success.

The fellowship is underwritten by Alan Knott-Craig (pictured), serial entrepreneur, and founder of Project Isizwe and Happimo NPC.

When asked why he is supporting NMMU, Knott-Craig explained: “I studied to be a Chartered Accountant, but I did 2 years of computer science as voluntary courses at NMMU. If my parents hadn’t forced me to study accounting I probably would have got a degree in computer science. So I have an emotional attachment to the Dept of CS at NMMU, and a strong relationship with Prof Jean Greyling and Prof Andre Calitz. I believe we need more postgrads in computer science, and that these individuals should start businesses rather than get jobs. The fellowship is an incentive for students to finish their masters or PhD and then to become an entrepreneur.”

“One of the deciding factors in choosing NMMU is that it has the most diverse postgrad student program in South Africa. The future of technology entrepreneurship in Africa can’t be white and male. We need more black and female tech entrepreneurs. I believe NMMU can produce them.”

“As has become apparent during the student protests of the last 2 weeks, many young people are crippled by study debt.  In addition many struggle to find the money to start their own business venture once leaving university. This means that there is very little incentive for would-be entrepreneurs to complete post-graduate studies.”

Knott-Craig explained that this fellowship aims to assist with these issues, by encouraging students to complete their post-graduate studies, whilst also giving them a boost in terms of a new venture. He emphasized that the money can be used either to invest in the start-up or to pay off study debt. “What they do with the money is up to them”, said Knott-Craig. “As long as they commit to at least 12 months to a startup.” 

Applicants who would like to apply for the fellowship have to meet the following criteria:

  1. He/she must have completed a Masters or PHD degree in Computer Science at the School of ICT at NMMU
  2. He/she must either join or launch a start-up by no later than August 2016
  3. He/she must commit to remain in the start-up for a minimum of 12 months and
  4. In the event of starting their own start-up, applicants must have a co-founder.

Details of the application process will be announced through the media in early 2016.

The process will be run by the CEO of Happimo, Craig Rivett: “We are proud to be able to support NMMU, the Dept of Higher Education and youngsters looking to start businesses, create jobs and grow the South African economy.”

Prof Jean Greyling, HOD of NMMU Computing Sciences says he believes that the South African economy is in need of more Masters and Postgraduate ICT graduates. Research has shown that these degrees are very beneficial to graduates especially later in their careers. “Combining this drive with a focus on entrepreneurship is a win win combination which we fully support.”

Note to the media:

1) Happimo is a non-profit organisation dedicated to giving all South Africans, rich or poor, access to cutting-edge technology that can help them live safer, healthier and smarter lives. Happimo NPC also helps government departments solve technology related problems in education, housing and security.

For more information or interview requests contact:

Craig Rivett - craig@happimo.org

Prof Jean Greyling - Jean.Greyling@nmmu.ac.za