UKZN’s RLEDI team and DEDTEA ,from left: Ms
Nomkhosi Luthuli, Dr Jennifer Houghton, Ms
Bakhetsile Dlamini, Mrs Shereen Naidoo, Ms
Nolwazi Mthembu, Dr Stanley Hardman, Mr Patrick
Mbokazi, and Mr Damien Naidu.

The Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s (GSB&L) Regional and Local Economic Development Initiative (RLEDi) in partnership with the Department of Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs, (DEDTEA) has won a International Partnership Network (IPN) Global Best Award 2014 in recognition of its outstanding Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Skills in Africa.

The RLEDi team together with Partners and Funders from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DEDTEA) collected the Global Best Award for the category Entrepreneurship and Enterprise skills at the 12th International Education Business Partnership Conference in Brussels recently.

The RLEDi has shown great results in not only its academic pogrammes for LED practitioners, but also some of its flagship programmes namely, the young researchers programme, Winter School programme, the Champions programme (for social entrepreneurs) as well as the CREATE programme, a partnership between the School of Engineering and the USA-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Young researchers programme enables young researchers to study towards their masters degree under the guidance of UKZN with research focused on LED related topics. The Champions programme for which the Global best was awarded, provides a development and support platform for KwaZulu-Natal based entrepreneurs who are champions of entrepreneurship development or social entrepreneurs themselves. Therefore, the IPN Conference, provided the RLEDI and its programme leaders an opportunity to share experiences and networking with partnership professionals all over the world.

Speaking on behalf of the RLEDi team that traveled to Brussels, Mthembu said winning the award was a sign they were on the the right track towards highlighting the important role entrepreneurship plays in economic development.

‘Winning the award made me realise how much potential we all have as individuals and as a team. I also team leader of the Champions programme that works with entrepreneurs from all over KwaZulu-Natal who show a spark of social entrepreneurship in the work and projects they engage in. Our partnership programme with MIT, CREATE, has also proved a strong link to maintain and further develop these entrepreneurs while they are under our wing,’ she said.

The RLEDi will host a research symposium later this month at which practitioners and academics in the field of RLED will be able to engage with cutting edge research and best practice case studies.

The IPN allows for the expansion of the networks of the RLED Initiative and exposes the team members to best practice from across the world. This allows for the generation of new ideas and linkages that fosters improvements in how all the partners are able to work on the important issues of enterprise support, youth employability and economic development. As such the IPN experience has been a further boost to our thinking innovatively within the RLED programmes.

RLEDi facilitator Dr Jennifer Houghton said they were delighted about the achievement as it creates an opportunity for future collaborations.

‘The IPN allows for the expansion of the networks of the RLED Initiative and exposes the team members to best practice from across the world. This allows for the generation of new ideas and linkages that fosters improvements in how all the partners are able to work on the important issues of enterprise support, youth employability and economic development. As such the IPN experience has been a further boost to our thinking innovatively within the RLED programmes,’ she said.