Ford Drives Empowerment through Education with Enactus Ford C3 Programme Winners Announced

The Sandton Convention Centre bore witness to a display of innovation and social impact as the Enactus South Africa National Exposition unfolded on Wednesday, 19th July 2023. The Enactus Exposition was attended by over 700 youth from universities around South Africa, academic staff, top business executives, sponsors as well as Enactus Alumni.

Amidst strong competition, four university contenders made it to the final round, captivating the judges’ attention with their transformative projects aimed at making a positive difference in society. As the dust settled, one triumphant team emerged, securing not only the coveted top spot but also the incredible opportunity to represent South Africa on the global platform. 

The Central University of Technology (CUT) was crowned National Champions for the second consecutive year at this year’s National Exposition. The CUT team was awarded the  honour for their Vermi-Village, an innovative agricultural initiative in the Free State. The enterprise addresses pressing challenges of poor soil quality and food waste by harnessing the power of Red Wiggler worms to convert organic waste into nutrient-rich vermicompost, revolutionising sustainable farming practices. 

In celebration of innovation and community impact, Ford will sponsor CUT to travel to Utrecht, Netherlands, from 17 to 20 October 2023, where they will compete in the Enactus World Cup against 31 countries. 

In addition to sponsoring the winning team to attend the global competition in the Netherlands, Ford reaffirmed its dedication to empowering youth through education as it announced the winners of the Ford College Community Challenge (C3) program.

The Enactus Ford C3 Building Sustainable Communities Project for 2022/23 in South Africa showcased four outstanding teams from local universities as winners. These teams were also honoured at the Enactus National Exposition last week.

At the awards ceremony, they were presented with trophies for their remarkable implementation of student-led initiatives. Ford Motor Company Fund provided each of the four local projects with grants of $5 000 (approximately R90 000), enabling them to further implement their creative community upliftment initiatives.

Ford C3, a signature educational programme of the Ford Motor Company Fund, in partnership with Enactus, aims to foster innovative solutions among university students to address critical community needs. In addition to South Africa, the programme also extends its support to Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Brazil, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Together, they share the vision of creating sustainable and thriving communities worldwide.

Neale Hill, President of Ford Motor Company, Africa, expressed his pride in the impactful initiatives of the student teams, stating, “We are extremely proud of the concepts the student teams came up with for making a difference in their communities, and are inspired by the positive impact they have made.”

Hill emphasised the significance of celebrating the empowerment of youth through education, especially during Mandela Month in July. He highlighted how education was one of Nelson Mandela’s key principles, and these students are the agents of change and the leaders of the future, setting an example for others to follow.

The winning projects showcased remarkable dedication to addressing various societal challenges. 

The projects were:

Central University of Technology – Sontrale: This project aims to provide sustainable and efficient portable solar boxes and wireless solar chargers to vendors. The product will be marketed as a cost-effective alternative to traditional power sources, such as gas stoves, generators, and extension cords.

University of KwaZulu-Natal – Innovators Harvest: This project empowers farmers with cost-effective agricultural solutions such as vertical sack farming and hydroponic farming. The goal is to improve their yield potential, minimise waste, and maximise profitability. Additionally, this initiative seeks to identify small holder farmers who will collaborate with the Innovators Harvest project to process commodities like corn into other secondary products for sale in the retail market.

University of the Free State QwaQwa – BioFly Pro: The aim of this project is to form a collaboration between supermarkets and local farmers in QwaQwa, enabling farmers to generate profitable income from their produce and create employment opportunities.

University of the Western Cape – LenoKids: This project introduces a gamified WhatsApp Chatbot platform that helps kids improve their English language skills through engaging classes, games, storytelling, and handwriting. LenoKids offers interactive and enjoyable learning experiences for kids, making language learning a fun journey.

In a notable addition to the celebration of the winners, Ford South Africa’s Chief Financial Officer, Yota Baron, has been appointed to the Enactus Board, demonstrating the company’s continued dedication to the Enactus partnership and youth empowerment through education.

Reflecting on the significance of education, Hill reiterated, “At Ford, we believe that education is the foundation for success. It is the key to making lives better for everyone.” He urged the youth to enter the workforce with enthusiasm, carrying their ideas and passion, and continue to uplift and empower their fellow South Africans.

With a commitment to fostering sustainable communities and empowering the youth through education, Ford Motor Company and Enactus pave the way for a promising future of positive change. These winning projects stand as a testament to the power of innovative thinking and dedicated action in making a real difference in communities. Together, they embody the spirit of Nelson Mandela’s vision, as young minds lead the way towards a brighter, more prosperous tomorrow.