Al-Azhar’s young entrepreneur shines bright

First prize winner, Khadija Noor Mohamed, 17, from Al-Alzhar High School.

An Athlone woman has set her sights on revolutionising the informal trading industry with a concept that has already won her R100 000 in a competition for young entrepreneurs.

Khadija Noor Mohamed, 20, a Grade 11 pupil from Al-Azhar High School, won first place in the high school category of the Premier Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards (PERA), after presenting her business idea to a panel of judges in the final round of the competition, at the Century City Conference Centre, on Wednesday November 23.

High school and university students enter the competition annually, submitting affordable business ideas to improve society.

The Kenwyn-based pupil calls her idea “Shop-in-a-box”. It’s a foldable and mobile 125-litre box, with a 12.5m2 display area, that can either be used as a cart or mounted on a trailer.

Shop-in-a-box is aimed at street vendors and market sellers who need to store and transport their goods safely.

The boxes can be manufactured with light-weight steel or aluminium, with industrial waterproof tarpaulins and plastic moulding.

Khadija hopes her concept will change the face of the City’s informal trading sector.

“At first I didn’t want to do it because I had an exam on the Monday, and I needed to study for it, but after speaking to my sister, she said that she would help me, so we worked on the idea together.

“The judges were very proud of me and said I’ll go very far because I have lots of confidence and I am very passionate about the idea,” said Khadija.

She attended a coaching session on how to sell the idea to the judges in just 10 minutes, describing it and its target market, along with its pricing and how it would help to tackle unemployment.

“It will definitely create more jobs and make the country look better,” said Khadija.

“Vendors and street markets will be more proud to sell what they have because their store looks neater, and more appealing to customers.”

She wants the mobile shops to be made out of cheap, yet durable, materials so street vendors can afford them, and she hopes the government and companies will show an interest and possibly help vendors buy them.

Khadija said she would use her prize money to make her idea a reality.

“I would also like to give something to everyone who has supported me, donate some money to my school, as well as to a charity organisation.

“Anybody that has an idea that will benefit the community and society should definitely come forward,” she said.