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Steven Zwane and Nelson Mandela

MBA graduate Steven Zwane is inspiring Africa’s future entrepreneurs and has returned to Durham to continue his own learning through the DBA. Steven recently visited Durham as part of his Durham DBA programme and shared his story about meeting Nelson Mandela, why he received his Mandela Scholarship to do his MBA and what motivates his continued learning on DBA journey.

Meeting Mandela

In 2006, Steven first arrived at the Business School to start his MBA. He was one of three South African students to arrive that year and was supported by a prestigious Nelson Mandela scholarship. Steven elaborates, “I was awarded the scholarship in acknowledgement for the work I was doing raising the aspirations of young people in South Africa. I’d started YLED (which stands for Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development) as a social enterprise that was providing Saturday morning entrepreneurial sessions. I had a harsh life as a young person, in fact I had to raise and fend for myself from age 11 and that gave me a great appreciation of how an entrepreneurship mindset can greatly contribute to one’s success. With those lenses and what I was seeing in my home city, I wanted to teach young people to be intentional in learning and harnessing these skills, knowing that the results of that will have great impact to the trajectory of these young people lives. This is work we do at YLED is centred on this cornerstone”

Entrepreneurial research

Steven will now be undertaking the research element of his DBA. Like many DBA candidates the focus of Steven’s research is directly relevant and related to his not-for-profit organisation.

“My thesis is entitled ‘Determining the Influence of Entrepreneurial Intervention on Entrepreneurial Intentions of the Youth of South Africa’. Most entrepreneurial education and intervention efforts in South Africa, Africa and other countries start at university and after high school which misses an opportunity to plant the entrepreneurship seed much earlier in young people’s minds; my argument is that an opportunity is missed within this context.”

While the research gets underway Steven and YLED continue to provide South Africa’s young learners with the much-needed skills to improve their chances in life, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities beyond their schooling. This continuation is much more meaningful following the Covid-19 disrupted process with YLED boasting over 20,000 strong beneficiaries and the alignment of his research and his passion.

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