Beautiful décor and furniture made of recycled tyres takes UFH studentpreneur to EDHE National Competition

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In 2018, Benathi Makiyela, a UFH final-year Agricultural Economics student found new purpose for discarded tyres - making furniture and home décor.

Last week, he was announced as one of the winners in the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) InterVarsity 2022 Eastern Cape regional round. His business, Makiyela Recycling won under the Existing Business – Social Impact category and will form part of the team that will represent the province in the national lag of the competition.

The company manufactures chairs, tables, flowerpots, feeding troughs, pet beds and playground swings from old tyres.

The EDHE programme is piloted by Universities South Africa (USAf) with the aim of developing the entrepreneurial capacity of students by encouraging them to participate in entrepreneurial activities as a strategy to advance the economy.

UFH was awarded the opportunity to host the regional round of the competition on the 4th and 5th of October where eight representatives from all four Eastern Cape Universities (UFH, Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and Rhodes University) presented their businesses to a panel of judges under the following categories:

  • Category 1: Innovative Business Ideas
  • Category 2: Existing Business – Tech
  • Category 3: Existing Business – Social Impact
  • Category 4: Existing Business – General

Only one winner was selected in each category to represent the province in the national round in November and Benathi was one of them.

The other winners are Ms Siphosethu Mgwilli, Founder of Azani Medivice from Walter Sisulu University, Ms Kelly Damons, Founder of Robia from Nelson Mandela University and Ms Nicole Louw, Founder of Naturally Nirvana from Nelson Mandela University.

The 25-year-old from Mount Frere (Kwa-Bhaca) in Eastern Cape said his inspiration for eco-entrepreneurship stems from two things, a passion for recycling and a determination to create a second income stream after graduating.

“When I looked at the high number of unemployed graduates I realised that I needed a plan B in case I struggle to secure employment after graduating. Even if I do find a job, I have learnt from my role models, Vusi Thembekwayo (motivational speaker) and Sbusiso ‘DJ Sbu’ Leope (serial entrepreneur) that having a side hustle as an alternative income stream is financial prudence.”

He established the company in 2018 and officially registered it in June 2020.  He runs the business with his management team which comprises Mr Mthandazo Dyantyi (CFO) Silindukuza Ngqasa (Lawyer) Ntsika Mfamana (Manager) and Mpumezi Makiyela (Supervisor) and employs four to five casual workers.

Commenting on his selection for the national round, Benathi said: “With this victory, I came to understand that anything you can visualize in your mind, you can actually see with your own eyes. It is also quite difficult to give up on your dreams when you are devoted to the vision.”

“We promise the UFH community and the Eastern Cape as a whole, that the provincial team will not be there just to add numbers but to give it our all.”

Mr Dzulani Munzhelele, UFH Student Developer extended his gratitude to USAf for entrusting UFH to host the regional round of the competition. “It was well executed and a huge success, thanks to all the participants who made valuable contributions.”

Munzhelele also took the opportunity to congratulate Benathi for ensuring UFH features in the team that will represent the province.

The national round will be held in Johannesburg on the 17th and 18th of November 2022.