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Unisa postgrad innovator wins challenge by linking homeowners, artisans

Gqeberha-based Noncedo Ngebulana won the Innovation Challenge, hosted by Unisa’s Directorate of Innovation, Technology Transfer and Commercialisation (DITTC), after impressing the panel of judges with her platform for connecting customers with artisans on 02 December 2022. After seeing the challenge being advertised on the Unisa YouTube channel, she realised that there is an opportunity to create an app that would make it easier for homeowners and artisans to find each other, while at the same time giving Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college graduates a shot at entrepreneurship.

Noncedo Ngebulana

Exclusion addressed

Ngebulana is studying towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Resource Management at Unisa. She states that she has always been interested in using her skills to be effective in her community, which inspired her to produce a way to connect homeowners with skilled artisans. Her idea aims to address the problem of TVET college graduates being excluded from the workforce, not only to create work opportunities for graduates and promote the growth of local businesses in her community, but also to offer a safer alternative for homeowners who wish to hire artisans.

When asked if her DITTC Innovation Challenge project is something that had never been implemented before, or an improvement to an existing solution, Ngebulana says that she identified certain problems that she felt were not being addressed adequately, and that her solution is specifically designed to address those issues.

Creating opportunities

According to Ngebulana, her goal is to connect artisans with nearby clients, making it easier for both parties to find each other. By providing a platform that focuses on geographically located clients, her aim is to simplify the process of finding reliable and safe services for homeowners and her idea also aims to promote entrepreneurship among TVET college graduates who she can help create their own opportunities rather than waiting for the opportunities to come to them.

She elaborated by stating that she is also mindful of the crime problem in South Africa and the resultant compromised safety of homeowners, therefore, background checks will be performed on participating artisans, and their information will be obtained in compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act.

Ngebulana encountered challenges in implementing her idea in rural areas and townships due to network connectivity problems, but remains optimistic that her idea will make a significant difference in areas where network connectivity is not a concern.

Pointers from a winner

As the winner of the DITTC Innovation Challenge, Ngebulana aspires to witness the implementation of her idea and see it have an influence in its intended clients’ lives. She advises those intending to follow a similar path to conduct thorough research and gather insights from their target audience through interviews to evaluate their assumptions.

In conclusion, Ngebulana states that it is crucial to remain flexible and willing to pivot if results from these interviews reveal a need for change.

She believes that “challenges may arise, but perseverance is key to success – giving up is not an option”.

* By Lukhetho Mbanjwa, Intern: Department of Communication and Marketing, Unisa Eastern Cape Region

Publish date: 2023/05/11

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