Coast KZN

07 Jul 2020

Mthembu is working on a project that would measure pollution levels in waterways.

(Berea Mail) Picture: Covid-19 provides opportunity for Durban entrepreneur

YOUNG Durban research entrepreneur, Nkululeko Mthembu believes he has found a gap in the market amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Mthembu, (29), chairperson of the Durban Chamber Youth in Business Forum, founded a company called Blue Ocean Ventures, a developmental lab looking to explore emerging technologies in the maritime sector.

“(BOV) is an industrial innovation company in development with a keen eye on the maritime sector, providing a range of solutions and services including emerging technologies like data science, drones, blockchain, advanced materials. Also research and development of ancillary port opportunities, strategy and insight into the ocean economy,” he said.

Mthembu is originally from Johannesburg and made the jump from the city of gold to Durban and has been involved in a couple of start-up projects. As a young entrepreneur, Mthembu has faced a couple of adversities and bureaucratic impediments in his journey. Something, he said, is also faced by his other ambitious colleagues.

“While the government makes every effort to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship, not all of the initiatives are adopted to their fullest intent, some which will take decades to change. The impetus then moves on to young people to find sweet spots in the nooks and crannies in value chains and industry blindspots and carve themselves spaces of opportunity. The order of the day is to innovate,” said Mthembu.

Mthembu is working on an ambitious project that looks to map current water systems and measure the prevalence of plastic and pollution levels in waterways. He will do this using static and mobile sensors on flying and water surface drones.

The data collected would create compelling stories for ordinary people living close to beaches and rivers, believes Mthembu.

“Covid-19 was a much needed opportunity to pursue self development in a fast-paced world of delivering. I found myself taking on tons of online courses that would make me globally-relevant and competitive. Some courses included design thinking, international marketing, cross industry innovation, product management and coding. While pursuing a Data Science Professional Certificate I needed to find valuable ways of using these new skills. The Port of Durban, the busiest on the continent, seemed like a compelling start,” said Mthembu.