Master’s Research in South Africa: Digital Tools for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

As one of the main contributors to job creation and innovation, entrepreneurial activities are vital for a country like South Africa where every fourth person is without a job. Validating and realising a business idea has become easier in the course of digitalisation.

The internet offers various digital tools such as reaching out to potential customers (social media), designing promotional material (Canva & Powtoon) or raising capital (crowdfunding) just to name a few. However, being aware of the opportunities presented through digital devices and knowing how to use available tools is essential. In her Masterˈs thesis, Mareike Hinrichs (University of Flensburg) would therefore like to focus on digital tools that can empower aspiring entrepreneurs in their early activities of starting a business. Through YEEES, she conducted research in South Africa from July to September 2018.

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More than a visiting academic: my time in Cape Town

Last year August, I arrived for a 3-month research stay in Cape Town. Months ahead, I had been in touch with Jane Battersby and Gareth Haysom from the African Centre for Cities to plan my postgraduate research project. This study is about spatial justice in the Philippi Horticultural Area, an agriculturally zoned and highly contested peri-urban area in the city of Cape Town. Divergent views co-exist on the value of the Philippi Horticultural Area: while some call it the food basket for the city, others want to see the land developed for housing and alternate urban uses. That is why I asked about the values regarding spatial justice and how these values were assigned to the peri-urban Philippi Horticultural Area.

There I was, at the African Centre for Cities, sitting at a table and too excited to even start. I looked at the UCT card, which would allow me to enter the university buildings, and felt special to be affiliated as a visiting academic. Still, I felt more like an eager student than an academic. I was especially enthusiastic to visit the area that I had read so much about prior to coming to the city of Cape Town and to talk to the people involved in the decision-making of the area.

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