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Meet Nosipho Ngidi, the South African graduate with entrepreneurial grit

From running a snack business to graduating from the MUT in South Africa, 23-year-old Nosipho Ngidi speaks on how her entrepreneurial grit helped her overcome financial struggles while schooling to obtain her diploma in office management and technology.
Nosipho Ngidi
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Nosipho Ngidi is a 23-year-old graduate of Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), South Africa. Through her entrepreneurial grit, Ngidi overcame financial struggles while schooling to obtain her diploma in office management and technology. She speaks with Edugist on how she navigated her studies from running a snack business to graduating from the MUT. Excerpts:

Share with Edugist a little bit about your background and how you first became interested in pursuing higher education?

My name is Nosipho Ngidi and I am 23 years old. I am from Ndwedwe rural area but was born at Mshiyeni Hospital, Umlazi. I have five siblings. My dad died when I was young, about 2 years old if I’m not mistaken.

What motivated me to pursue higher education was my poor background. My mum worked as a maid and sold metals at the scrap yard. I wanted to be the child who would break the curse of poverty within my family and fight for better tomorrow. My son, Mpumelelo Philasande Khethelo is my motivation behind all of these achievements from 2020.

Can you walk us through a typical day of balancing your studies with running your snack business?

It was not easy, to be honest. Sometimes, I’ve had to skip some classes or only attend computer practical classes every single chance I get during weekdays. I run my snack business including during weekends at home. I can say I coped with consistency and focus.

Were there any particular challenges you faced along the way, how did you overcome them?

There were many challenges which stressed me out, including family issues. When I’m stressed I pray and listen to music.

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Nosipho Ngidi

What was your application process to Mangosuthu University of Technology like?

My application process was not so nice because I’ve applied two times and didn’t receive admission. This forced me to be a street vendor in 2019, selling hot dogs. I started the snack business in the middle of 2019 due to the failure of my first attempt. I was accepted into the MUT in 2019 to study for a diploma in office management and technology. It is a 3-year course.

I was funded by the NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) but it was not enough to cover my personal expenses, remember I was already a mother at that time. 

What were some of your favourite memories from your time at the MUT?

One of my favourite memories from my time at the MUT include when I walked through the campus holding my snack, communicating with various people. That helped me mentally and also motivated me to hear what people were saying all around. Another favourite memory occurred in 2021 when celebrities started booking me for big events on the main campus. And the best one was my graduation.

Can you talk about any extracurricular activities or organisations you were involved with during your time at the MUT and how you managed to balance it with your academic work?

First, I’m a person who loves having a good impact on others. In 2022, I decided to open a programme just from the heart with no expectations or sponsors, rather than my effort. The programme, called “peer helper” is one in which I assist university aspirants to apply to their desired varsity through CAO (Central Applications Office) and give them guidance about the realities of life during undergraduate studies. I also give them information as regards entrepreneurship and encourage them to give back to their community. 

I was not involved with any organisations and balancing academic work with my activities was based on faith and God. Likewise working hard, smartly. 

Can you share with us any specific skills or lessons that you learnt while running your snack business that you have applied to your academic or professional life?

The lesson I’ve learnt is to never undermine the power of little money. I started my business in the varsity with the 150 Rands I received from my mum which was supposed to be used to buy nappies for my son. I’ve learnt that entrepreneurship is what I was born to practise and I wish to proceed with a business management course.

Are there any particular individuals or mentors who have inspired or influenced you along the way?

Yes. I have a person whom I looked up to when I was in high school, Mrs Mdlalose. She was my history teacher. Till date, I walk through her words to never allow my background to define me.

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Nosipho Ngidi

What advice would you give to other students who may be struggling to finance their education?

Never underestimate the power of your mind. Your background doesn’t define who you are. Poverty has no right to stand in your way. Make wise decisions and have a person who you look up to. Fear God. Be humble, respect and be kind to everyone. And read Matthew 6 vs 5:13.

How does it feel to graduate from the MUT, and what are your plans now that you have completed your degree?

Yhooo! I feel unique and a history maker as a graduate of the MUT. My plans at the moment is to find a job that will sustain me and offer professional work experience.

As I currently hold a diploma, I look forward to continuing my study with an advanced diploma in office management and technology. I also look forward to a bursary that will help fund my tuition.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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