A brief history of Phaphama

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People say small businesses are the future of South Africa, yet small businesses lack support. Students and youth have the agency to drive change in our country, but lack practical experience. At Phaphama we believe that it is at this intersection, between education and entrepreneurship, that we can increase social awareness and make a more economically inclusive South Africa.

Phaphama SEDI is a non-profit student-run consulting organization. Phaphama trains senior University students who are innovative and passionate about making societal change, and who crave practical experience working with the local business community outside of their university environment. We connect these students with exceptional small and medium enterprises based in Khayelitsha and Philippi, who lack the necessary support to meet their entrepreneurial goals.

These diverse and dynamic teams of entrepreneurs (EPs) and students work together in order to grow the businesses of the EPs. Throughout the years, we have found that the increased entrepreneurial capacity is only one of many facets of Phaphama: networking, support, relationships, and compassion grow from the ground of our organization.

A brief history of Phaphama:

Phaphama SEDI was started in 2014 by a small group of dynamic UCT students. In 2014, Phaphama began work with 7 entrepreneurs from Khayelitsha. Just five years later, in 2019, we began the year working with 30 entrepreneurs from Khayelitsha, Philippi, Lange and Belhar.

To date we have worked with over 100 small to medium enterprises and over 300 student consultants.


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Our Programme

Our Guiding Principles:

Phaphama SEDI’s mandate is to strengthen entrepreneurship in South Africa’s townships and develop more socially-conscious students. Phaphama’s business development programme was designed according to six key principles, which have developed over the past six years as we have been met with challenges, shifts and growth in size and scope. We are confident that a thorough application of these principles has resulted in a program which systematically adds value for the student-consultants and entrepreneurs. The following explanatory statements emanate throughout every corner of Phaphama.

  • Inclusivity: Designing a program that can assist any committed entrepreneur, understanding and accounting for different personal histories, backgrounds, and identities.
  • Adaptable: Avoiding a “textbook-style” rigid program that isn’t applicable to all industries, locations and people. It also needs to encourage entrepreneurs and consultants to shift according to trends and shocks, while encouraging the consultants to think beyond frameworks.
  • Collaborative: Encouraging collaboration between consultants, entrepreneurs, community & industry leaders. Avoid “lecturing-style” learning.
  • Innovation: Our data-backed and well-researched program is constantly evolving. Further, we will be fluid with the implementation of youth-driven ideas, with aims to constantly find new and better ways of impacting the lives of our student-consultants and EPs.
  • Sustainable: As a visionary organization, we see a future in other parts of the continent, and eventually the rest of the world. Embedded in our growth projection is a sustainable framework to uphold the organization to its core values and standards.
  • Community: Create an atmosphere that encourages entrepreneurs and consultants to push themselves, while forming lasting relationships. Establishing value systems, involvement in the community; going above and beyond finances, it is crucial to make an open space which acknowledges and encourages compassionate connections across a wide range of identities.

At the start of the programme Phaphama forms teams of students who have very specific, as well as diverse, skillsets and pairs them with an entrepreneur or a small business owner. Bridging a gap between entrepreneurs in townships and the younger generation of university students is a rare occurrence and Phaphama differentiates itself in this way. The end-goal of this partnership is to leave the business stronger and more sustainable. The programme does this through a series of workshops that are focused on imparting business knowledge to the entrepreneurs. Although the ultimate goal is to end the programme with a successful business, the benefits of this programme extend to both the entrepreneur and consultant as an exchange of skills – working in the real-world as a business owner and, conversely, the more academic approach to economics – occurs throughout the programme.

The programme runs over the course of the year and includes an opportunity for funding in our mid-year Lion’s Den programme. This opportunity for funding is integrated into the programme which helps entrepreneurs identify their business’s strengths and weakness, how to foster growth and sustainability, as well as creating valuable connections and networks. Student consultants gain insight into the informal economy and its place in the economic landscape, foster consulting skills and real-world problem solving skills and contribute to the improvement of the lives of others in a fundamental and tangible way.

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