The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS is an annual competition that recognises and honours successful South African entrepreneurs in the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector. The competition celebrates excellence in entrepreneurship with the aim to inspire others to venture into and succeed in the world of business.The competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS has built up a stellar reputation of unearthing and celebrating top South African entrepreneurs in the SMEs sector.

The Entrepreneur of the Year® initiative is not just about the competition. It is about:

• Contributing to the development of the standard of excellence in entrepreneurship throughout South Africa;
• Promoting entrepreneurial excellence as the norm and not the exception;
• Promoting entrepreneurship as an honourable and rewarding yet challenging career;
• Educating entrepreneurs so that they reach a standard of excellence;
• Educating the youth about what entrepreneurship entails with the aim of encouraging them to select entrepreneurship as a viable career option;
• Influencing government legislation by being the voice of entrepreneurs in order to create a healthy legal environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive.

To enter, entrepreneurs can complete the entry form available on our site during the year. The competition closes on 31 May each year.


Finalists stand the chance to win prizes worth a total value of R2 million, which includes cash prizes of R500 000. Finalists and winners are able to expand their networks and receive invaluable exposure for their businesses as a result of the competition.

The judging process

The judging process is completely independent and is led by the judging panel comprising five judges. The judges represent different areas of the business community. The evaluation process runs through three different filtering processes, which ensure that all entries are checked and rechecked to remove human error and subjectivity.

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 completed by an interview with each finalist to ensure that any questions or issues needing clarity are addressed. An on-site visit at the businesses may also be conducted.