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Graduation a Family Affair for PhD Candidate

April 23, 2015

PhD graduate, Dr Sophia Mukorera with baby Jaden and family.PhD graduate, Dr Sophia Mukorera with baby Jaden and family.

It was a double celebration for UKZN staff member Dr Sophia Mukorera who not only celebrated graduating with her PhD but also the birth of her third baby boy,  a few days before the College of Law and Management Studies Pietermaritzburg Graduation ceremony.

Mukorera, an Economics Lecturer is used to juggling her academic duties and motherhood. Her second born son was only 18 months old when she embarked on her doctoral degree. Although her busy schedule as a student and a teacher meant that she missed a lot of the baby’s milestones, the qualification was important for her family’s future.

‘Due to my studies, I had to put my son in pre-school during a critical time of his growth. I missed some of his ‘firsts’. I really felt like I had transferred my parenting roles to a stranger but I thank my husband because he always assured me that I was doing the right thing and doing a good job at both being a student and being a parent. I actually developed excellent time management skills which helped me juggle between parenting, studying, working and also social life,’ said Mukorera.

Mukorera’s love of academia has seen her make a lot of sacrifices to career growth, especially giving up a career as an Economist in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe. Her motivation to pursue her doctorate came after she had spent almost a year without a job when her family moved to South Africa in 2010.

‘Failure to get a job in SA was frustrating, so I decided to advance on my studies whilst I continued with job hunting. Studying for a PhD was my first choice because the programme was more flexible to juggle with work. Secondly, it is a requirement for an academic career or being a researcher or policy adviser. These are some of my career aspirations and I feel with this qualification, I have moved a step ahead,’ said Mukorera.

With her home country still on her mind, Mukorera’s dissertation titled: “The Rise of Micro and Small-Scale Entrepreneurial Activity in a Meltdown Economy: A Case of Zimbabwe”, assessed entrepreneurial activity during the abnormal economic situation the country found itself in between 1999 and 2010. The aim of the study was to investigate the source of the sudden growth in entrepreneurial activity and analyse how the existing enterprises can be utilised in the recovery of the Zimbabwean economy post the meltdown.

‘This research provides policy recommendations on how Zimbabwe can utilise the existing entrepreneurial activity in both formal and informal sectors in its recovery from the effects of the economic meltdown. The findings of the study suggests that this can be achieved by targeting sector specific growth inhibiting factors and avoiding a common-policy approach when addressing the needs of micro and small-scale entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe,’ said Mukorera.

‘The assessment of entrepreneurial activity in an abnormal economic situation is something that had never been done before creating the original aspect of my study. My biggest challenge, just like with any African study, was the availability of sound secondary data. However, by employing different analytical techniques I managed to come up with some sound results. This made it possible to make policy recommendations that I feel can help my country. I am passionate about Zimbabwe because it is home for me and I also know the potential that the country has,’ she added.

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