The University of Cape Town (UCT) has for the first time in its 179-year history established an official and permanent educational space in a Cape Town community with the opening of the GSB Solution Space in Philippi Village.
Backed by the university’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the GSB Solution Space at Philippi Village has the long-term purpose of getting community members of Philippi and surrounding Nyanga, Gugulethu and Khayelitsha involved in a process that goes beyond the traditional space of a university.
“Our presence in the Philippi Village development is one way in which the GSB is deepening its roots and relevance as an African business school,” said GSB director associate professor Mills Soko.
“The GSB is widely regarded as the leading business school in Africa, but its location at the V&A Waterfront is far from representative of the reality that the vast majority of South Africans face every day.”
The GSB Solution Space in Philippi Village has a campus setup with workspaces, lecture space, lounge areas and meeting rooms, creating a hub where creative thinking around entrepreneurship and technology is encouraged.
To date, over 100 workshops and educational programmes have been held there, which have been attended by about 3,000 people. All students who study an academic programme at the GSB are also encouraged to take at least one course at the Philippi Village satellite site.
The hub also works closely with the Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development, another entrepreneurship development unit at the GSB that works with youth who have not had the opportunity to pursue tertiary education.
“Here at Philippi Village, we get to practise what we preach. The reality is that we live in a thoroughly divided country and city from a geographic perspective, and that creates a divide in understanding, in connections, and in networks and our presence in Philippi is seeking to bridge that. Being here helps our students to develop empathy and resilience and to open their eyes to wider perspectives – all of which are vital attributes for the modern leader, especially one operating in an emerging market,” said Soko.
“In addition, by working directly with entrepreneurs in the community we are able to be more inclusive and more actively involved in developing business innovations that change lives for the better.”
Sarah-Anne Arnold, Solution Space manager, said the GSB Solution Space acts as a business incubator and hosts local social enterprise businesses.
“The GSB Solution Space has been operational for one year and the launch is aimed also at celebrating the businesses and initiatives that have been started here, promoting them and creating awareness about the possibilities for collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship that exist in the space,” she said.
She adds that it is easy to be impatient in wanting to see change happening right way.
“But we have a long-term vision for the Solution Space – Philippi and the impact we would like the hub to have, and for this reason it was important to ensure a good foundation was in place first. Now we are really in a position to be a catalyst in enabling an ecosystem for inclusive development across sectors,” she said.