Change the world


From microfinance and empowerment of women to improving financial literacy and helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses are what three recent student academic award winners have in common.


“Microfinance’s efficacy in promoting sustainability of women-owned SMMEs”, was the topic of Kundai Koti’s (centre in the photo) Master’s degree by dissertation in Development Studies. She was the award winner for the best Social Sciences and Humanities master’s with an average of 82%.

Kimberley Welsh (right) received the Vice-Chancellor’s award for the Best Postgraduate Student in Social Sciences and Humanities with an average of 93% for her Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning and Kristin Giddy received the Best First Degree in the Business and Economic Sciences Faculty award for her BCom Accounting Sciences (Computer Science & Information Systems) degree with an average of 85%.

Kundai’s research revealed that although microfinance funding is a key and major component in the sustainability of SMMEs, other vital non-financial factors are necessary for sustainability, including prior business experience, business training, leadership skills, a high-risk appetite and sufficient and efficient marketing.

Women are part of a previously marginalised group and as a result, very few of them possess these non-financial essentials required for business success, which results in most of their businesses not surviving beyond the three-year mark, the threshold for South African SMMEs. The study also found that business training and mentorship is generic and a context specific approach is needed to assist SMMEs.

“My passion is to contribute to improving the socio-economic conditions of South Africa and Africa as a whole using research to explore innovative ways of addressing socio-economic challenges we face as a nation and continent”, Kundai says.

“I also hope to one day work for the United Nations in their Economic and Social Council Office, which is a platform that is empowered to recommend international action on economic and social issues thereby promoting social and economic development as well as the status of women.

Her doctoral studies in Business Management involve investigating SMME sustainability and specifically in a crisis environment, such as one caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The study aims to build a crisis-strategy framework for small businesses in the tourism industry, which is highly sensitive to crises, especially those associated with health pandemics as its success is heavily reliant on the movement of people.

The unifying theme of her research is building efficient and robust strategies and support systems based on the adoption of digital technologies and transformation and ambidextrous leadership and crisis management to improve the success rate of SMMEs and entrepreneurial activity. The improved success rate of SMMEs will ultimately improve the economy of South Africa.

Kundai, who is originally from Zimbabwe, is an inter-disciplinary researcher due to her undergraduate background in social work, Honours and Masters in Development Studies and now a PhD in Business Management.

She believes strategies to eradicate poverty are within the communities and understanding these communities and how to address their real needs will result in the development of a nation. Then the aspect of business and economic emancipation can be added.

Kimberley wants to “really make a difference in the lives of South Africans in the financial context, to educate and to improve the overall level of financial literacy in the country”.

She is now in her second job and at her dream company PW Harvey & Co in Gqeberha, where she works full-time as a para-planner and client administrator. “I am gaining so much knowledge of all the different fields in the financial environment”, she says.

She also played hockey for the Madibaz team and coaches hockey at Summerwood Primary School. 

Kimberley matriculated from Stirling High School in East London and received the Principal’s Medal for Academics and being an All Rounder. She played provincial hockey from 2013-2016 and was in the Stirling High School Jazz Band.

“I hope to leave a positive impact in the lives of people that I encounter and to always stay positive and to work harder than the person next to me”, she says.

Covid hit in her postgraduate year, which made studying and writing her final exams a lot more difficult. She also missed out on three months of valuable experience during the first lockdown when she got her first job in the financial industry.

“I think now, more than ever, we all need to be there for each other and mindful of one another’s circumstances. I have learnt during my time in the industry just how important it is to have empathy and support for everyone you meet”, she says.

Kristin is currently in her CTA year and enjoys problem-solving, strategising and making decisions in accounting. Her dream job is to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

“In a world of corruption and negativity, I wish to be honest and considerate. I want to lead in a way that is kind and encouraging, uplifting others to better themselves, she says.

Kristin matriculated at Pearson High School and was the top performer in the Port Elizabeth District for the NSC examinations. She has also been an Accounting Tutor since 2018.

Although I’m not sure in which career direction I’m headed, wherever I go I want to learn as much as I can and leave an impact in some way.

Although the online transition during the pandemic provides room for procrastination, it also allows for more flexibility to study at one’s own pace and she feels that she has learnt new skills that she otherwise would not have learnt.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160