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Total Startupper of the Year Award 2016

From concept to implementation, starting a business is never easy, especially with all the risks and pitfalls along the way. But there’s nothing sweeter than the taste of success, and South African entrepreneur, Bathabile Mpofu, can attest to that with her recently being named Total’s Startupper of the Year 2016.

For the first time this year, South Africa joined other African countries in searching for young aspiring entrepreneurs to compete for the title of Total’s Startupper of the Year. Bathabile made history by winning SA’s first ever challenge and taking the R600 000 cash prize, to help get the business off the ground. And with a total of 24 000 entries this year, the competition had never been tougher.

Innovation, competitiveness, growth boosting and job creation were all boxes that the Total Startupper winner had to tick, and Bathabile’s business -Nkazimulo Applied Sciences – ticked all of these boxes and many more, causing her to stand head and shoulders above the rest of her competitors.

The idea behind Nkazimulo Applied Sciences (also co-founded by Roderick Mpofu) was inspired by Bathabile’s personal background.

I attended a ‘disadvantaged’ high school in KZN and we did not have any science kits. I wanted to pursue a career in chemistry and my first year in tertiary education showed me that I was in way over my head. Not because I did not have the ability, but I would be playing catch-up my whole tertiary life.

Because she did not want anyone else to experience what she went through, she came up with a solution to improve the quality of science education in South Africa. She developed the ChemStart science kit, which offers South African high school learners a new approach to learning that is not just confined to the four walls of a classroom.

With only 1200 of South Africa’s 21 000 ordinary schools being equipped with stocked labs, her hope is that ChemStart will level the playing fields for those from a disadvantaged background and equip all South African science learners with the necessary knowledge to make an informed career choice, and the skills to succeed in their tertiary endeavours.

The kit is evidence of her belief that science should be taught in a fun, interesting but informative manner. It provides South African science learners the opportunity to engage with their school material in a practical, hands-on manner, and to explore the laws of chemistry in the comfort of their own home – without any resource constraints.

Her kit consists of 52 experiments, all of which apply to everyday-life scenarios, and are safe to execute outside of a classroom setting.

Bathabile Mpofu’s story is nothing short of inspiring, and her contributions, as a South African entrepreneur, will surely create a better future for thousands of learners. It’s not hard to see why she was picked as Total’s Startupper of the Year.

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