UWC professor leaves a legacy in business

UWC’s Professor Linda de Vries has championed entrepreneurship and female empowerment for almost 40 years.

And while she may have retired as a permanent staff member at the university, she will still be involved in rural upliftment and will lecture part-time.

In the months since her retirement, Professor De Vries, of Durbanville, has been involved in trying to resolve the case of a rural student who has been cheated out of money after unwittingly registering at a non-bona fide tertiary institution.

Her life’s work at UWC has been not only to teach, but empower women (and especially rural women) through entrepreneurial and financial skills.

From Khayelitsha, Langa and the greater Cape Flats area to Garies and Lambert’s Bay – all these communities (and more) have benefited from her efforts.

Today these women are all enjoying the benefits – and challenges – of running established businesses.

“It’s wonderful to hear how the training has changed the women’s lives and their attitude towards education. There is really nothing as satisfying as this,” she said.

But her heart for community isn’t where it ends: she is known as an opinion leader and key speaker at various global gambling conferences and contributed to a book on gambling disorders in women.

Professor De Vries has guided youth and school pupils in entrepreneurship development by means of the Yield project, an NGO for youth and female development and entrepreneurship, and has previously been declared Faculty Advisor of the Year.

“I was chosen from among all the South African universities – which was a definite career highlight for me.”

There have been many other highlights, of course.

“One of my most amazing moments at UWC was hosting the National Championship of Entrepreneurship and taking the UWC team to Toronto, Canada, as the South African national champions.”

Another defining moment was when two of her mentees, who were part of the Yield Project, received the International HSBC Financial Literacy Award, and visited New York and Toronto.

She’stakencompetition winnerstotheInternational SagecompetitionsinAmerica,UkraineandChina.
In 2010 she hosted schools from 20 countries at an entrepreneurial championship here in Cape Town. Professor De Vries, who is originally from Beaufort-West and one of 10 children, was raised in a family which offered her basic, practical entrepreneurship lessons. Over the years, and with a great deal of experience, she’s refined them into a recipe for success.

She has 10 top tips for entrepreneurial success:

* Believe in your potential.

* Be disciplined and carefully plan what you want to do.

* Be financially smart – separate business money from household money.

* Save and invest back into your business.

* Learn how to market your business and build your own brand.

* Be part of a small business and/or entrepreneurial network.

* Know your own strengths.

* You don’t need to know or do everything – some skills can be outsourced.

* Continue to learn as much as possible.

* Don’t quit.