The original intention remains that we celebrate entrepreneurial excellence and make heroes of those who are truly successful. South Africa desperately needs more entrepreneurs and this competition helps give shape to the ideas and aspirations of those heroes of tomorrow.

Those entrepreneurs that have been in business for some time might just also say: “If they can do it, I can also”. Through this initiative we can step up the overall quality of our South African entrepreneurs. We can subscribe to the saying: “Success breeds success!”

All of these are wonderful role models of what can be done and are all winners in their own right. However, to really honour entrepreneurs by way of an award, Entrepreneur of the Year® is the ultimate acknowledgement everyone should aspire to.

The judging process is completely independent and is audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The judges represent different areas of the business community and include a representative from the education environment. The evaluation process runs through three different filtering processes, which ensure that everything is checked and rechecked to remove any human error or human preference which may creep in from time to time.

The data requested also gives the judges very important and critical information which they need in order to make a complete and holistic judgment on the candidate being reviewed. The judging process is then completed through an interview with each finalist to ensure that any questions or issues needing clarification are addressed. Furthermore, site visits are also conducted at times.

But Entrepreneur of the Year® is not just about the competition. It is more than that. Entrepreneur of the Year® is about developing the standard of excellence in entrepreneurship all over South Africa. It is about promoting that excellence as the norm and not the exception. It is about promoting entrepreneurship as an honourable and rewarding, yet challenging career. It is about educating entrepreneurs so that they reach that standard of excellence.

It is about educating the youth about what it entails to be an entrepreneur so that they can make better choices about their career options. And at the end of the day we expect to influence government legislation in not only how we facilitate the subject of entrepreneurship in our schools but also what legislation should be in place to ensure that we create a healthy legal environment in which our entrepreneurs can operate their businesses.

By showcasing our winners and running the competition, as well as all the workshops with our grand SME conference, we hope to build the momentum of media activity that usually follows such events and through the media activity showcase the role models that Entrepreneur of the Year® has selected as pillars of our community. These roles will help influence the SME sector for good, and in five years from now we will have begun changing the face of entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Entrepreneurs should take their rightful place as pillars of strength in our communities and our economy, and they need to have a powerful force behind them ensuring that all involved in this sector are stepping up to their responsibilities.