Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University today announced the first winner of the Mandela Bay Entrepreneur Fellowship: Computing Sciences masters graduate Martin Smuts has received R100 000 for the growth of start-up company, Avinci Consult.
Craig Rivett (left), CEO of non-profit company Happimo, and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz (right) congratulate Martin Smuts, the first recipient of the R100 000 Mandela Bay Entrepreneur Fellowship.
“Avinci Consult [a joint venture between Smuts and his business partner Henry Faul, a Computing Sciences third-year student at NMMU] has developed, amongst other things, a number of smart algorithms and systems that assist people to find appropriate investment vehicles, manage personal finances and calculate personal risk,” says Smuts. “The fellowship money will be used to get our products to market.”
The R100 000 fellowship – the first of 10 to be awarded over the next 10 years – is only available to masters and PhD graduates from NMMU’s Department of Computing Sciences and School of ICT, who commit to joining or launching a start-up initiative.
The initiative was launched last year by NMMU and Happimo, a Port Elizabeth-based non-profit company that focuses on promoting entrepreneurship and implementing software that helps government departments solve technology-related problems in education, housing and security. Neither organisation will have any financial stake in the venture at a later stage, irrespective of its success.
Well-known entrepreneur and NMMU alumnus, Alan Knott-Craig Jr, has underwritten the fellowship for 10 years.
“What they do with the money is up to them, as long as they commit at least 12 months to a start-up … Most entrepreneurs just need 12 months’ breathing room so they can get on their feet and pay the bills. Hopefully the fellowship helps with this,” says Knott-Craig.
Craig Rivett, CEO of Happimo NPC, says: “We are excited to announce the first winner of the Mandela Bay Fellowship. We look forward to seeing where Martin and Henry can take their start-up with the R100 000 seed money.”
NMMU Computing Sciences Professor Jean Greyling says that selecting a winner was difficult. “The fellowship received a number of great proposals. The selection committee had a tough task in selecting a winner.”
Criteria for the 2017 fellowship will be announced later this year.
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