Rothko – credit
Rothko – credit
For many South Africans, the dream of attending university is a financial bridge too far.
However, the University of Cape Town is looking to bring a slice of university life to township communities, and create a host of entrepreneurial opportunities.
The groundbreaking initiative is a joint enterprise between the University’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) and The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The Philippi Village Hub has been launched in the Phillipi township and consists of meeting rooms, lecture halls, work spaces and social areas that create the incredible buzz of a campus thriving with cognitive activity.
Residents of nearby Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Gugulethu are being advised to come down and utilise the space for its obvious business-stimulating potential.
Private stakeholders, corporate parties and business school students are also being encouraged to populate the hub and make it a vibrant, cohesive workspace that is a true reflection of all aspects of South African society.
Associate Professor Soko says that the GSB students need to learn to work with all members of society and ‘leave their comfort zones’ to understand the world they live in.
Soko believes that an integration between students and township citizens will be beneficial for all involved:
“The reality is that we live in a thoroughly divided country and city from a geographic perspective, and that creates a divide in understanding, in connections, and in networks and our presence in Philippi is seeking to bridge that.”
“Being here helps our students to develop empathy and resilience and to open their eyes to wider perspectives – all of which are vital attributes for the modern leader, especially one operating in an emerging market.”
Business has already been booming in Philippi. Two of the biggest success stories include Lakheni, a bulk-buying initiative for low-income households and Discover Ikasi, which promotes township tourism.
Small start-ups like Kings Fish & Chips, Betty’s Hair Salon, Simphiwe Shoes, and AV Schoolwear have shops here. Organisations with offices at Philippi Village include the Business Activator, Harambee, Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and Leap Schools.
The Village Hub is creating opportunities that Cape Town residents could never have thought they’d have access to.
If there’s an idea in your head or a dream in your heart, we urge you, visit Philippi Village and learn more about them on their website