Entrepreneurship Corner: Helping South African students excel, one university paper at a time

Annika Surmeier is the founder of The Editing Enterprise. Besides that, she is a human geographer who is currently busy finishing her PhD thesis in South Africa. For her research, she is investigating how to facilitate better working conditions in the global economic context, with much of the focus being on sustainability innovations in South Africa's tourism sector. She first travelled to the Rainbow Nation in 2006, after which she became a frequent guest. Afrinection’s Southern Africa Region  Ambassador Takunda Mambo spoke to her about her social enterprise, its ambitions, and of course its plans for the future.

What is The Editing Enterprise about?

The Editing Enterprise provides proofreading and editing services for academic papers written in English. We connect qualified South African editors, mainly from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, with student authors of academic papers who are non-native English speakers. By doing so we aim to create better jobs and better papers. For researchers based in South Africa working for The Editing Enterprise provides an interesting and well-paying opportunity to generate income to fund their research and studies. For researchers based in Europe, The Editing Enterprise can help them to write better papers. They will get valuable advice from researchers from their field.

What inspired you to pick up this endeavour? Why did you go the entrepreneurial route?

As a social business, our main motivation is to address social challenges in an entrepreneurial way. Access to tertiary education is a huge issue for many university students in South Africa as they struggle to pay for their tuition and living expenses. This includes many PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. This issue has been reflected in the #feesmustfall protests at South African universities. I was present during these protests and thought of a way to make a difference and support local students. Founding The Editing Enterprise provided an opportunity to do so and at the same time, it exploits a market gap. There is no other editing business that aims to contribute to sustainable development processes. This is our unique selling point.

What would you say have been your greatest accomplishments since you started The Editing Enterprise?

That’s very easy to say: we recently won a prestigious start-up competition hosted by the Social Impact gGmbH in Germany. It is directed at social innovators who aim to contribute towards securing future viability and social equity.

What are the major challenges that your company had to face?

Many of the social challenges are extremely complex and there are no easy solutions – so you actually wonder whether all the effort you put into growing your business can actually make an impact.

What advice would you like to give potential entrepreneurs looking to get involved in your industry?

Do get in touch with me – together we can achieve more! Please view the initiative via the following URL: https://www.the-editing-enterprise.com/english . Apart from that – make sure to always meet your deadlines and implement measures for quality control.

Lastly, where do you see your company in the next 5 years?

I would love to see The Editing Enterprise centres all over South Africa. Maybe one day Cape Town or Johannesburg can become an editing hub just like Bangalore in India is in Software services.


About the author: Takunda Mambo from South Africa is Afrinection's southern Africa Ambassador. He is an experienced writer and passionate about Africa, entrepreneurship, and anything that makes a positive impact on our continent. 

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