SIX students from the University of Zimbabwe last week won the global free enterprise competition, beating competition from 44 other universities in an annual competition held in Toronto, Canad
The victory has a ticklish twist of irony because Zimbabwe’s leaders have shown a predilection towards a command economy as the ruling Zanu PF party seeks to stifle free enterprise through a plethora of price controls.
The victory against developed countries such as France and the United States, among others, was achieved despite Zimbabwe being in an economic tailspin that has witnessed the country’s inflation rate for September rising to 359,8% from 265,1% in August.
The global competition, conducted under the auspices of Students In Free Enterprise (Sife), aims at mobilising students to create economic opportunities for others while discovering their own potential.
University and polytechnic students across the globe form teams at their campuses and develop projects that teach entrepreneurship, market economics, business ethics and finance in their communities.
Winners are judged by the impact of the team’s project on a chosen community.
The UZ team projects included a community project that targeted subsistence farmers in rural Domboshava, about 30km northeast of the capital Harare, in making the transition to commercial farming, and were able to open lucrative markets supplying horticulture products to top Zimbabwean hotels.
The team, comprising Joshua Mudangwe, Tawanda Chirenda, Brenda Mudzengi, Patience Shoko, Amos Ngadya and Alex Sithole trained families living with Aids in growing mushrooms in Mabvuku, Epworth and Hatcliffe.
It also assisted students from Goromonzi, Harare and Kuwadzana high schools set up their own companies, opening avenues for investment for profit as well as registering their companies.
“This is a competition where the best business-minded students gather from around the world,” says Bruce Nasby, Sife executive vice-resident responsible for the programme.
Sife is a global non-profit organisation that mobilises university students to create economic opportunities for others while discovering their own potential.
The competition was adjudicated by business executives from 30 countries, including some of the world’s top CEOs.
Drury University of the United States was the first runner-up with Essec Business School Paris of France and Kaduna Polytechnic of Nigeria coming third and fourth respectively.