Promoting entrepreneurial excellence as the norm, not the exception

Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy. They generate much wealth and provide a substantial number of jobs for the South African people.

Business Partners Ltd is a specialist SME financing company and has been financing SMEs for over 30 years. The company, founded by the great entrepreneur Dr Anton Rupert, continues to honour its initial mandate by servicing the capital financing needs of SMEs in South Africa. Business Partners Ltd initiated Entrepreneur of the Year® during 1989 to give recognition to the vision, innovation, perseverance, drive and commitment of the individuals who run successful small and medium enterprises. However, the candidacy was limited to Business Partners’ client pool.

Each year this event recognised and celebrated extraordinary entrepreneurial achievement by a small and medium enterprise. A panel of judges assessed nominees based on a range of criteria, which included profitability, growth, sustainability, marketing and labour management.

This model proved to be enormously successful and in 2010, Business Partners decided to expand this programme to the rest of the South African business community. In doing this they brought on board Sanlam as a partner sponsor in the project. Through Sanlam’s sponsorship and the support of various other institutions, the project was successfully implemented.

The response from the SME community was remarkable showing that SMEs are hungry for this kind of acknowledgement and recognition. There are many competitions all over South Africa that acknowledge businesses on some level but none that offer the same national credibility as the acknowledgment from a company like Business Partners combined with Sanlam.