Following an intense judging process and assessment of the 14 successful entrepreneur finalists, the 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition winners were announced at an awards ceremony held this morning in Johannesburg.
The overall 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year® winner is Tommy Makhatho, owner of BiBi Cash & Carry, a retail group situated in the rural area of Qwa Qwa in the Free State. Makhatho was also awarded with Job Creator of the Year® title due to the significant contribution he has made in the local community by providing jobs to more than 680 employees.
According to Nimo Naidoo, project manager of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, Makhatho was awarded the overall title because of his ability to build, and grow, a sustainable business despite facing strong competition from established supermarket chains in the area, as well his determination to continuously seek ways to increase his bottom line.
The competition, widely considered to be the pre-eminent of its kind in South Africa and now in its 25th year, celebrates excellence in entrepreneurship and aims to honour, benefit and uplift South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Naidoo says that the competition is committed to playing a crucial role in elevating the standard of entrepreneurial activity in the country, as well as fostering a national entrepreneurial spirit. “Our goal is to promote entrepreneurship as a viable and exciting career path.”
Other 2013 category winners include Jonathan Pepler of Silverline Group, who was awarded the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year® award, Andrew and Chris Brown, co-founders of The Daily Buzz, who took the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® award home and Anton Rossouw, founder and owner of Life Path Health, who won the Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® award.
The Innovator of the Year® title was awarded to Dr. Conrad Smith and pharmacist, Mariaan du Plessis, founders and owners of Medical Nutritional Institute (Pty) Ltd because of their innovative product range for a South African company, and the fact that they are able to compete internationally among other successful products.
The competition provides prizes worth R 1 340 000, which includes cash prizes to the value of R300 000. Naidoo says that beyond the monetary prizes, the winners’ businesses will also benefit significantly from the competitions various networking opportunities and associated marketing and national media exposure.
An additional award that was handed out this year was the Lifetime Achiever Award which was awarded to Margaret Hirsch, Chief Operations Officer of national appliance store, Hirsch’s. “This award serves as recognition for those entrepreneurs who have continually contributed towards the development and growth of South African entrepreneurship,” says Naidoo.
Xolani Meva, a member of the 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® judging panel, says that while the quality of entrants improves each year, this year revealed a significant increase in the quality of businesses entering.
“If we were to compile graphs with statistics of the combined revenues, net profits and the number of jobs created by the entrants annually, this year would reflect a spike in the graphs. In spite of the economic climate they have had to trade in over the past couple of years, SMEs are continuing to make a serious contribution to the economy.”
Meva says that it is vital that the country continues to celebrate these individuals. “Being an entrepreneur is no walk in the park, no matter how long someone has been an entrepreneur. These individuals wake up to a different kind of a challenge every day, and with their never-say-die attitude, they soldier on and continue to make their businesses bigger and better, and the spin-offs to the economy are invaluable. We need these individuals to keep going, so we need to continue celebrating their successes with them,” says Meva.
Naidoo says that not only do entrepreneurs generate much wealth, but they also provide a substantial number of jobs for the citizens of South Africa. “Entrepreneurial excellence should be promoted as the norm and not the exception. By promoting and supporting these entrepreneurs as role models we hope it will serve as an inspiration to others to succeed in the world of business,” concludes Naidoo.