How One Flight Can Change a Lifetime: Sesimphiwe Mbatha ’23 BSBA (Finance and Entrepreneurship)

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On August 2019, Sesimphiwe (Sesi) Mbatha ’23 BSBA (Finance and Entrepreneurship) embarked on a journey that would change her whole educational career when she boarded her first international flight to the U.S. to attend Central Arizona College (CAC) on a track and field scholarship.

During her time at CAC, Mbatha had some health complications, causing her to have to cut back on her time on the track. “Two roads diverged and I took the one less traveled,” she says. “And that has made all the difference in my higher education career.”

With less time being spent on the track, Mbatha’s desire to channel her time and efforts into something impactful grew and as a result she enrolled in the Honors Program at CAC. “This gave me the opportunity to identify and explore a significant need in my community,” says Mbatha.

Mbatha took on applied research to solve a practical problem that is important to her—South Africa’s day-long power outages. These are “inconveniently and routinely implemented to prevent a collapse of the electricity grid which has suffered inadequate maintenance over the years, leading to failure to meet peak demand and accommodate the widely scattered nature of the country’s population,” she says.

This research captured historical developments of South Africa’s energy sector, providing solutions for potential energy-based developers and investors looking to infiltrate Africa’s energy industry.

As a result, Mbatha was named an All-Arizona Academic Team Member in 2021 in recognition of her research skills combined with her academic achievements, leadership and service to the community.

Mbatha then decided to transfer to the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, where she is double majoring in Finance and Entrepreneurship.

She is currently part of the McGuire Center New Venture Development Program, where she and her teammates have built a new edtech venture from the ground up, working closely with mentors from the McGuire Center, industry experts, investors and real-world entrepreneurs. “The mission of our venture is to innovatively improve communication between students and academic advisors through our automatic degree and workload tracking system,” Mbatha says.

As financial manager of her venture, Mbatha is responsible for overseeing financial projections that will then be presented to potential investors later in the Spring Semester. She also volunteered as a SPARK program coach in the McGuire Center—an exclusive year-long co-curricular opportunity for pre-business sophomores interested in entrepreneurship.

Mbatha was admitted into the Accelerated Master of Science in Finance program at the Eller College which officially begins in August 2023—already taking course credits toward it.

Mbatha aims to establish a career in public finance investment as a means of influencing Africa’s financial ecosystem, hoping to establish her own venture capital firm in Africa.

“I want to identify young entrepreneurs and innovative startups that can create an environment that will foster that economic growth in Africa,” she says. “For upon my shoulders stand ambitious little boys and girls who deserve the chance to free themselves and their loved ones from the weary locks of poverty. Therefore, I must succeed to lift Africa up.”

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