Enabling entrepreneurship is something the NWU does well. We reach out to entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs in the community and among our students and work closely with like-minded partners in business, government and non-government organisations.


Grassroots partnerships and NWU-run entrepreneurship projects and programmes

Leopards Lair





Leopards Lair Competition

The annual Leopards Lair competition encourages and supports student entrepreneurs across the three campuses of the North-West University (NWU) and Vaal University of Technology (VUT) to become future employers and henceforth job creators by embracing the value of entrepreneurship as a career choice.

Undergraduate and postgraduate entrepreneurs are invited to submit their innovative and business ideas.

The purpose of this competition is to identify the top student entrepreneurs, showcase their businesses ideas, and invite investment into their student business. The competition also provides the opportunity of developing skills through the different phases of the competition. In this process, undergraduate and postgraduate entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to demonstrate their entrepreneurial talent.

Students from the North-West University (NWU) pulled out all the stops at the recent annual Leopards Lair business competition.

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Applications for the 2021 competition opens on 18 March. 

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Grassroots partnerships 

North-West Premier’s Office

Collaborating in entrepreneurship bursaries and initiatives, using various communication channels and community partners to spread the message to communities about the opportunities available.

Mosaic South Africa

A self-sustainable orphan care model with various entrepreneurial approaches, enabling the members to build their own homes and carry out income-generating activities. 


The African Unit for Transdisciplinary Health and Research has various projects involving social entrepreneurs.

Touching Africa/NWU: BEEP Programme: 

Formally known as the Broad Enterprise Development Programme, this entails coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs to create and sustain businesses.  Some of the businesses already mentored are T-Shop Guys, Bravospace, Sound Masters Productions, Academics by Curiosity, Roopher Media, Travel & Tour with Rose and Healing Hope.

SETH Academy: 

The Science, Engineering, Technology and Health (SETH) Academy has been established at the Ferdinand Postma High School in Potchefstroom and helps with training and mentoring of future engineers and entrepreneurs while still at school.

Dr Kenneth Kaunda Resource Centre Learnerships: 

The North-West University Community Development Trust hosts various learnership programmes, Including in Hospitality (NQF level 2), Food & Beverage (NQF level 4) and Sport Administration (NQF level 4). Various entrepreneurial content forms part of the curricula and the learners are encouraged to start their own businesses after completing the programme.

Dr Kenneth Kaunda Resource Centre Training partnership: 

In collaboration with the NWU’s Community Development Trust, the resource centre partnered with a company called iDNA to provide free training for grassroots and other emerging entrepreneurs in personality analysis and business plan development.

North-West Development Corporation (NWDC): 

Various innovation support initiatives and partners collaborate to set the framework for growth in areas such as innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, skills and education. Initiatives include an SMS competition for entrepreneurs in villages, townships and small towns. Partners include the Premier’s Office, NWDC, the Technology Transfer and Innovation Support Office of the NWU, the Department of Finance, Economy and Enterprise Development (FEED) in Setsekosane, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), the Vaal University of Technology (VTET), colleges in the North West Province and community partners.

Student RAG initiatives: 

The student representative council on the campus in Potchefstroom has 86 projects where students from various residences give their time and knowledge to various NGOs enabling entrepreneurial thinking.

Ikamva Youth: 

Mentoring of social entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurship: 

In the NWU’s Community Engagement department, all team members are expected to mentor a social entrepreneur with a vision to uplift his or her community.

BHIVE Enterprise Development Centre (EDC)

This centre offers support for all stages of the start-up entrepreneurial cycle, including pre-incubation incubation and entry level business support. Here are some of BHIVE’s most successful projects: 

Student entrepreneur business competitions: These competitions encourage and support entrepreneurship. Creating new ventures as part of learning is an alternative to traditional employment and a useful mechanism for gaining experiential business development experience. Idea generation workshops assist would-be entrepreneurs to turn ideas into concepts and generate business models generation. As prizes, winners receive cash investment and incubation.

Young Entrepreneurs Business Organisation (YEBO)

YEBO is a unique student organisation aimed at motivating university students to heed the call of entrepreneurship. It is a catalyst for developing an entrepreneurial community that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship and makes entrepreneurial resources available. YEBO supports educational and networking events and inspires the creation of new ventures.


This is an international non-profit community of students, academics and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world. Enactus Vaal focuses on community projects, the aim being to grow the projects, make them sustainable and create jobs. Enactus is also active on the campuses in Potchefstroom and Vanderbijlpark.

Enterprising Women Programme

This eight-month business support programme is aimed at new/early stage businesses from idea to concept to business model and then to business plan. Various entrepreneur success stories have come from this initiative.

Incubation Programme

This contributes to the development of an entrepreneurial culture and increased entrepreneurial activity among NWU students, staff and the Vanderbijlpark community. There are various BHIVE EDCs incubation programmes.

Innovation Highway

This platform is being designed to link entrepreneurs with service providers along the value chain from ideation to jobs.  It assists in the creation of start-ups in the community.

Innovation Highway is a development initiative by the Technology Transfer and Innovation Support office of the North-West University (NWU), to volunteer the commercialization skills of its team members in order to help establish start-up companies for entrepreneurs outside of academia.

It is housed in a wholly owned subsidiary of the NWU, and is tax paying.

Innovation Highway focuses on early stage technology–linked innovations and often assists with prototype development and registration of intellectual property rights.

Its investment sizes ranges from R 20,000.00 to R 300,000.00, depending on the transaction parameters and potential.

Its pilot round of funding has just closed, having successfully invested about R 2.5 million in 10 different early stage projects and companies, mostly owned by entrepreneurs from outside the university.

The first round of capital was invested by the Industrial Development Corporation.  At this stage, we take grant funding only, so as to simplify the regulatory environment in which we operate.

The operations of Innovation Highway is conducted by the Technology Transfer Team of the NWU. 

We have developed dedicated processes and documents to enable a transparent and legitimate, yet simple assessment and investment governance framework.  These are available for free, and could be replicable and scalable with other universities’ tech transfer offices.

We have learnt valuable lessons during our pilot round and aim to offer an enhanced service for our next round of funding in 2020.

For future sustainability, Innovation Highway takes an equity stake, a profit share or both when investing into a project.  In certain cases, we extend grants, taking into account development impact and other practical factors.

Innovation Highway is NOT currently considering new applications. We are raising funds for a next round.


Most of our degrees have an entrepreneurial module or modules that underpins their studies. Some specifics are:

Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences


  • Managerial skills, problem solving for managers (second-year modules) and Entrepreneurship on third-year level
  • BComm Entrepreneurship and Business Management


  • Honours in B.Comm Advanced Entrepreneurship
  • Various short courses in entrepreneurship.
  • MBA in Entrepreneurship                                                

Faculty of Engineering

  • The faculty has a module called FIAP where students of engineering address a social issue through an engineered solution.
  • Engineers need a final-year project and many students start their own business after completing their project. An example is a business called Elemental where chemical engineering students started their own craft beer business.

NWU School of Business and Governance

  • Its internationally accredited programmes promote entrepreneurship in all its forms: Various accredited short courses on entrepreneurship are presented.
  • The NWU Business School does research on entrepreneurship.
  • The Small Business Advisory Bureau (SBAB) offers business advice to prospective and existing entrepreneurs.