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SA’s top entrepreneurs recognised at 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition

South Africa’s premier annual entrepreneurial competition, Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners, has named Johan Eksteen, second-time finalist and owner of Agricon, as the overall winner of the 2016 competition in Johannesburg this morning.

Speaking at the event, spokesperson for the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners, Gugu Mjadu says that Eksteen was selected as the overall 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® winner due to his strong entrepreneurial attitude and the remarkable growth and expansion that his business has exhibited since first entering the competition two years ago.

“Since being named a finalist in the 2014 competition, Agricon has not only expanded and experienced rapid growth in turnover, but has also made improvements in its business processes which have contributed to its growth,” says Mjadu.

She adds that the high calibre of business acumen and entrepreneurial talent of the finalists this year made it no easy task for the judging panel to decide on six category winners from the 15 deserving entrepreneurs who were selected to advance to the final round of judging.

Other 2016 category winners include:

  • 2016 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year®:Vanessa Jacobs, founder and owner of Sow Delicious. Sow Delicious® is an edible gardening store, whose easy-to-grow vegetable and herb Slab of Seed® invention is making edible gardening more accessible for the ordinary, non-gardener consumer. www.sowdelicious.co.za
  • 2016 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Meisie Nkosi, owner of Bella Bonni Guest House. Four star graded Bella Bonni Guest House, based in eMalahleni (Witbank) and encompassing 18 rooms, has managed to stand the test of time during challenging economic conditions since opening its doors in 2006. www.bellabonni.co.za 
  • 2016 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Carl Pretorius, founder and owner of Just Trees. Recognised for its economically strong, yet environmentally friendly business practices, Just Trees is a wholesale tree nursery that supplies specimen container grown trees to the trade throughout South Africa, as well as to certain export markets. www.justtrees.co.za
  • 2016 Job Creator of the Year®: Michael Roberts, owner and founder of Khonology. Founded in 2013 in a response to skills shortages in the South African technology sector, Khonology has played a significant role in bridging the gap between academia and corporate expectations for graduates entering the workforce by equipping them with vital technological and financial skills. www.khonology.com
  • 2016 Innovator of the Year®: Stacey Brewer and Ryan Harrison, co-founders of SPARK Schools. SPARK Schools is a network of primary schools dedicated to delivering sustainable, affordable and high quality education by using a blended learning programme, which combines traditional classroom teaching and online learning, to individualise education for all students. www.sparkschools.co.za

Now in its 28th year, the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners aims to honour, recognise and uplift South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by providing a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their achievements and elevate their business profiles – as well as their profits.

Mjadu says that given the current job market and economic landscape, now more than ever, South Africa needs to rally behind and support local entrepreneurs. “Given South Africa’s high unemployment rate of 26.6%, the country needs to promote entrepreneurship and support its main job creators – local entrepreneurs. Agile by nature, entrepreneurs are eternal optimists and will continue to see opportunity rather than challenges when faced with adversity.

“The 2016 group of 15 finalists have created 1071 job opportunities. This is just a small handful of South Africa’s many entrepreneurs. The more we recognise our local economic heroes, the more we can inspire other individuals to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey,” says Mjadu.

The competition provides prizes worth R2 million, with the overall winner receiving a cash prize of R150 000 and the other category winners receiving R50 000 each. Each winner also receives diagnostic analysis of their businesses coupled with valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and associated marketing and national media exposure to further drive their business’ success. Mjadu says that while the cash prize is always valuable to a business, the true value in the entrepreneurial platform lies in the networking opportunities secured through the competition’s network.

Mjadu concludes that the success of this year’s winners is testament to the thriving level of entrepreneurial talent and success present in the country. “In addition to celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship, we hope that this impressive group of winners will inspire others to succeed in the competitive and innovative world of business.”



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