Mukondeni ceramic water filters and pottery project tackles issue of water-related illnesses
University of Venda sees business potential in clay water purifiers
To address the issue of clean water scarcity in Limpopo due to the lack of clean water supply, team Enactus from the University of Venda (UV), has launched the Mukondeni ceramic water filters and pottery project. The project qualifies the UV Enactus team as one of eight finalists in the Barloworld Social Innovation Youth Awards (BSIYA) competing at judging ceremony on Friday, 30 June.
Mukondeni area is situated on a river bank that runs through the village and is rich in clay making it a readily available resource for clay pottery makers. Women in the village formed a cooperative to commercialise their clay products. In 2009, they started the Mukondeni project with a team of 20 women and one man as a means to alleviate the high rate of unemployment in the area. Currently the cooperative consists of 15 youth, 16 elderly women and one man.
The initiative will address poverty and unemployment in the community through investment in enterprise development and promoting skills transfer expected to contribute to unemployment challenges experienced in the province.
The UV Enactus team saw the potential of diversifying the cooperative’s current focus on pottery for the tourist market, to producing ceramic water filters which they could sell not only locally but globally as well.
“Our objective was to assist the project to realise the benefit of growing the distribution model of these filters not only nationally, but to the world as a means to curb water related illnesses,” explains Ndou Sedzani, Enactus UV Team Leader.
“Our goal is to empower our beneficiaries through the provision of entrepreneurial skills and enabling them with the required business skills and knowledge. This will allow them to take full advantage and reap the rewards of their creativity through a sustainable income stream that improves their standard of living and quality of life.”
In order to meet their goals of growing the distribution globally, the team has also developed a website for online users which will provide a platform to share their stories on how the product has impacted their lives with information related to sales, education, health benefits and news around the uptake of the product. They have also developed an android mobile application to enable purchasing of Mukondeni Ceramic water filters and pottery products. The service allows customers to order in bulk, pay through a secure payment system and monitor the delivery of their orders.
“As a means to encourage enterprise development, it has also been important for us to establish meaningful collaborations with the Department of Health, Environment Management and Vhembe District Municipality, to assist with resources required to make the products and assist in the marketing their offering,” explains Sedzani.
“Barloworld seeks to be a catalyst for change and to contribute to the empowerment and transformation initiatives that will ensure the sustainability of our broader society,” Says Sibani Mngomezulu, Group Executive of Corporate Affairs at Barloworld.
“In supporting Enactus, we are able to play an important role in promoting entrepreneurship, encouraging young people to improve lives and strengthen communities through responsible leadership,” says Mngomezulu.
The Enactus programme brings tertiary students, academic advisors and business leaders together to improve socio-economic conditions in South African communities.