TSIBA Business School held its 15th annual graduation on Monday April 3, which also saw the biggest group of students graduate since its inception in 2004.
Over 150 students graduated at the Artscape theatre from three business programmes.
They received qualifications including higher certificates in business management; Bachelor’s degrees in business administration and post-graduate diplomas in business administration.
TSIBA Business School CEO, Dr Rudi Kimmie, said it was a momentous day not only for the staff, but for the students, many who were from marginalised communities, and were first generation university attendees in their families and communities.
Dr Kimmie said TSIBA business school, based in Woodstock, focuses on students who are from the marginalised areas around Cape Town, who suffer high degrees of poverty and unemployment, and brings them into a business school curriculum. At the same time, there is a strong focus on developing their leadership skills and self development.
He said the school had a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, because they believe that employability in South Africa is largely dependent on active entrepreneurs.
Asked about social struggles and lack of finance some students of marginalised communities faced, Dr Kimmie said these were one of the reasons they run a fully subsidised education programme. “Students are either subsidised 100% or 70% or 60%, but I must emphasise that we believe education is not a cost but an investment, so we encourage our parents and students to plan and contribute to education because that is how it will remain sustainable.
“If everyone depends on a hand-out, it makes it very difficult for organisations such as ours to remain sustainable.”
He also added that the campus will move to Pinelands in July, as they have bought a space and for the first time, will own their own campus.
To the graduates, he said: “Well done. You have achieved your long walk to freedom, and hopefully it will set you free to pursue all your life’s aspirations.”
Lebohang Jeneath from Gugulethu said she was nervous about graduating, but felt like she was “getting married or something”. “It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
After her third try to get into business school, she was accepted at TSIBA and started on a learnership before she completed her higher certificate, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in finance and investments.
She said being an educated individual had always been her mindset since she came from an educated family, and eventually, she wanted to be a portfolio manager in the investment industry after she completes her Honours.
She said TSIBA’s network and connections to big companies had helped her find employment.
Another student graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in business administration was Najma Mahamed Ali, a Somali refugee who now lives in Portland, Mitchell’s Plain.
She said she came to Cape Town as a baby and has been in the foster care system since, growing up in a Cape Malay household which “worked out well for her”.
She was restricted because of her paperwork and permits. “A (South African) ID number gives people access to many things I wasn’t afforded so I had to work a little harder and show that I was worthy of things and that gave me drive. I always want to do my best.
“I feel like I have lucky girl syndrome, but a lot of people helped me on my journey. I am very nervous about graduation – it’s a big day for all of us.”
Ms Mahamad Ali was also the recipient of the Graham Lashbrooke Prize, awarded to the student who achieved academic excellence in entrepreneurship and leadership, and the Professor Fatima Abrahams award, which recognises an academically strong female graduate.
She said she would like to study further and eventually become an entrepreneur, but she would also like to help people and be a part of something bigger.
Dr Randall Ortel, a medical specialist from Manenberg who worked as a part-time taxi driver to pay his tuition, encouraged the graduates to help their communities and inspire others to live beyond their circumstances.
“I am the medical specialist who paved his way by driving a taxi. I drove several trips…with a goal, to pay my tuition and to get a degree. I never thought I would inspire so many people.
“I am from the Tjatjies. Life is hard there with dire conditions, immense poverty which leads to violence and drug trafficking.
“All the intellectuals leave the community because of these ‘red flag’ symptoms, but I choose to stay because Manenberg is the soul that supported me.”
To the graduates, he said: “Many of you relate to my hardships, many of you had to overcome it. You are from the Cape Flats, and you have the opportunity to change the narrative – not only yours but of your family and your community.
“You and I are living proof that good can come from these areas. I’ve been judged for most of my life because I am from Manenberg and I set out to prove those preconceived ideas wrong.
“Use your prosperity to not only improve yourself, but your community as well.”