15 finalists selected to advance in SA’s premier entrepreneurial competition

After carefully sifting through a record amount of entries, the 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® judging panel have identified the 15 finalists who have been selected to advance to the final round of the competition.

According to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, the amount of entries received this year is a dramatic increase in comparison to the 2013 and 2012 competition. “We are pleased to announce that we received 214 entries in 2014, which is the highest volume recorded to date and an increase of 21% compared to last year. The entries have once again impressed the judging panel and have highlighted the quality of entrepreneurial talent and success present in the country.”

Botes says that he believes that the quality and quantity of this year’s entries is a direct result of previous winners’ success, as well as the status which the competition has established for itself within the entrepreneurial community. “The quality of the 2014 entries confirmed that the future of the entrepreneurial community in South Africa is very promising.”

He says that the 15 finalists operate in various sectors, the most prominent being the services and manufacturing sectors, with the majority originating from Gauteng and the Western Cape.

“The profile of the entries gave us even more inspiration to further celebrate entrepreneurial success. The types of businesses and the niches they fill in their respective sectors and markets shows that there are still many opportunities in our economy. What is needed from local entrepreneurs is the open-mindedness and guts to identify and grab the opportunities that are just waiting to be harvested.

“We commend all entrants and encourage individuals who have not been selected for the next round to try again next year. It is encouraging that South African entrepreneurs are not afraid to stand up and take pride in the businesses that they have created. It is vital for the country to recognise these individuals as they play a vital role in the economy by creating jobs and economic growth. Even though entrepreneurs have not been officially recognised yet – they all deserve to be celebrated.”

This year’s entries represent a wide array of sectors in South Africa, including the engineering, IT, services, retail, hospitality and education industries. Botes says that the demographics of this years’ entries are exciting to say the least. “Close on 30% of the entrants were located outside the four large metropolitan areas, which indicates that our rural economy continues to have thriving businesses, and that SMEs remain the backbone of those areas. Gauteng (43.9%) and Western Cape (22.4%) make up two thirds of all the entries, which throws out a challenge to the other provinces to be more bold in entering the competition as these two provinces seems to be more confident in celebrating their success.

“We also are delighted at the growth in the number of black entries as for the first time it grew to more than half the entries at 54.7%. Female entries also reached a new high at 31.78% and if one further considers that many of the male entrants also have, at the core of their businesses, a spouse that is just as committed to the business as the male entrant.”

Botes explains that the next step in the judging process is the selection of the winners in the different categories. “The judging process is completely independent and is monitored by PwC. The judges also represent different areas of the business community and include successful seasoned entrepreneurs, as well as a representative from each of the sponsors and a director from PwC. 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 otherwise could have crept into the process.”

He says that the 2014 finalists stand the chance to win prizes worth R1 340 000, which includes cash prizes to the value of R350 000. “Beyond the chance to win prizes, previous entrants and finalists have benefitted from the competition’s various networking opportunities and associated marketing efforts. Certain winners have also gone on to win other prominent awards and form valuable partnerships as a result of their success in the competition.

“We are eager to move onto the next round of the competition and wish all the finalists continued success and good fortune,” concludes Botes.

The 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® winners will be announced on 3 September 2014 at the official awards breakfast in Johannesburg.

2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® finalists:

Wendy Kemp (Accountability Group), Dudu & Leema Mofokeng (Legaći Superior Dry Cleaning & Laundry Services), Marthie Jansen van Rensburg (Ekurhuleni Artisans & Skills Training Centre), Dr Michelle Booysen & MJ Fick (Pétanque Consultancy), Karabo Songo & Olatoye Amosun (Olive Communications), David Green (Thegreencompany Importers (Pty) Ltd), Lorimer Gowar (Larrem (Pty) Ltd), Johan Eksteen (Agricon), Adri & Faan Kruger (Tzaneen Country Lodge), Hans van Aardt (Microworks (Pty) Ltd), Theri Rossouw (Therific Naturals), Hassan Suleman (Form Force (Pty) Ltd), Johan Kilian & Lukas Loots (Pie City), Daniel Guasco & Wayne Gosling (Groupon South Africa), Theresa Cupido (ATN Roadmarking & Civils).