24 June 2020: The BUSINESS/PARTNERS Entrepreneur of the Year® competition today announced that the 2020 iteration of the event has been cancelled due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Gugu Mjadu – spokesperson for the BUSINESS/PARTNERS Entrepreneur of the Year® competition – the ability to fairly assess the current state and sustainability prospects of the entrants’ businesses has been impacted by COVID-19. 

“The effect that the pandemic and ensuing lockdown has had on the economy poses a challenge to our being able to effectively evaluate each entrant’s and finalist’s business. At this stage, we don’t believe we can effectively assess the long-term viability of a business in relation to the current competition criteria under these circumstances; it wouldn’t be a fair reflection,” says Mjadu.

She notes that the world of business has fundamentally changed and says that this requires a reconfiguration of the competition post-COVID-19. “We have gone back to the drawing board in terms of the competition structure, categories and prizes and we will return with a reengineered model for celebrating entrepreneurial excellence and the country’s business owners in our new normal.”

Scientists around the world are predicting that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to last between 18 and 24 months meaning the awards event would not be in its preferred format. “Our awards event involves interaction between finalists and guests and serves as a networking platform for future business collaborations and with COVID-19 restrictions, this would not be possible,” Mjadu adds.  

She continues that, in the meanwhile, BUSINESS/PARTNERS will continue to support the small and medium business community in a number of ways: “We are offering various tailored relief packages to our clients and tenants that are financially impacted by COVID-19. We will also continue to combine our business finance with technical assistance, where required, to assist our clients mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and the lockdown.”

The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition team greatly appreciates the support, enthusiasm and interest that has been shown in the 2020 competition, and has communicated directly with all entrants thanking them for their contributions to entrepreneurship in South Africa and committing to keep them informed of any future developments with the competition.

Stay tuned to the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition website ( for updates on the competition and future events. “We look forward to a reimagined and exciting 2021 iteration of the competition, which will be communicated in due course – watch this space,” concludes Mjadu. 


About the BUSINESS/PARTNERS Entrepreneur of the Year® competition:

The BUSINESS/PARTNERS Entrepreneur of the Year® competition aims to honour, benefit and uplift South African SMEs. Now in its 32nd year, the competition celebrates excellence in entrepreneurship, serving as an inspiration to others to succeed in the world of business. Visit for more information.

About Business Partners Ltd.

Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) is a specialist risk finance company for formal small and medium owner-managed businesses in South Africa and selected African countries. The company actively supports entrepreneurial growth by providing financing from R500, 000 to R50 million, specialist sectoral knowledge, business premises and added-value services for viable small and medium businesses. Since establishment in 1981, BUSINESS/PARTNERS has provided business finance worth over R19.5 billion in over 71 600 transactions facilitating over 651 000 jobs. BUSINESS/PARTNERS was named the 2019 Gold winner in the SME Bank of the Year – Africa category at the recent Global SME Finance Awards. Visit for more information.

*BUSINESS/PARTNERS hashad remarkable results within the SME segment in Africa as a financier, even though it does not conduct the business of a bank.

We must continue to celebrate and support our entrepreneurs – says expert

2020 BUSINESS/PARTNERS Entrepreneur of the Year® competition is now open for entries

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that there have been over 184 976 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide with approximately 116 of these being in South Africa, at the time of writing. While this international disaster is impacting the health and wellbeing of citizens, it is predicted to have dire consequences for economies across the world, possibly more severe than the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.

As we are seeing with China, small and medium businesses will bear most of the brunt of this economic downturn. The March 2020 McKinsey & Company COVID-19 Briefing Note reports that while the economic activity has restarted in China, small businesses are facing labour disruption with fewer workers returning to work and consumer confidence down. 

As South Africa comes to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic and implements solutions to keep people safe and the economy growing, it is vital for the Government and the country’s citizens to continue supporting entrepreneurs and their businesses. This is according to Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the BUSINESS/PARTNERS Entrepreneur of the Year® competition who was announcing that the 2020 competition is now officially open for entries.

“As a recognised driver of job creation, entrepreneurship is instrumental to the economic recovery of South Africa, where unemployment currently sits at a record high of 29.1% and is likely to increase further as a result of the outbreak,” says Mjadu

The local entrepreneurial ecosystem will need to be extremely resilient and well supported in order to overcome the difficult challenges the country faces. We look forward to getting more details around the package of interventions that Government will implement to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 as announced by President Ramaphosa on Sunday, she says.

To honour and continue to support the dedicated South African entrepreneurs who have taken it upon themselves to be the change the country needs despite these difficult conditions – and in the face of increasing adversities – Mjadu encourages entrepreneurs to enter the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by BUSINESS/PARTNERS, which is now officially open for entries.

Mjadu says that local competitions of this nature are not only important because they promote entrepreneurship in South Africa as a viable career path; but because they shine the spotlight on entrepreneurs in times when our economy needs it most.

“Platforms like this stimulate and support entrepreneurship by celebrating the successes of the fearless entrepreneurs who work tirelessly – often with little recognition – and contribute to growing the local GDP and creating employment – especially during these unprecedented times.”

Celebrating its 32nd year, the BUSINESS/PARTNERS Entrepreneur of the Year® competition comprises of six categories, and Mjadu invites entrepreneurs from businesses of all sizes to enter.

“The categories of the competition range from Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year® to Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® and Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®. There are then additional prizes for the Job Creator of the Year and Innovator of the Year, as well as the coveted award for Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®.”

Prizes valued at over R 2 million can be won, which include cash prizes of R70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner. Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure. Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can download entry forms online at as well as interact with fellow entrepreneurs and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms and The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2020.

Top local entrepreneur of 2019 revealed

South Africa’s premier annual entrepreneurial platform, The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners, has named Andrew Weinberg, the Managing Director of Retail Engage, as this year’s overall competition winner at the awards ceremony held in Johannesburg on 4 September 2019.

Having started his first business venture as a varsity student, 48-year-old Weinberg is now a seasoned entrepreneur whose customer engagement and incentives solutions business, Retail Engage, is changing the game for the South African second-tier retail base.

Although this retail sector is frequented by over 50% of the economically active consumer base, there had historically been little access to shopping behaviour insights, nor the ability to individually target, communicate and reward this LSM 3-7 base.

Noting this gap in the market, Retail Engage (under the consumer brand “Bonsella” – originating from the Zulu word, bhansela, which means “give a bonus/ express thanks with an extra gift”) set out to identify, recruit and reward the over 10 million LSM 3-7 consumers who are shopping at over 1000 second-tier outlets nationwide.

“When I saw an article about independent FMCG retailers struggling to compete with large chain groups opening stores in more rural and peri-urban areas, and having worked on marketing and loyalty programmes previously, I started working on a marketing solution to allow the independent retailers to compete on fair grounds,” says Weinberg, on how Retail Engage came to be back in 2010.

“I engaged with some FMCG brands and asked them what they were missing in the independent sector, and the common view was that they could not run campaigns and marketing in these stores as they were all independent. They also had no access to sales data, critical to brand decision-making. The model I created was to aggregate the independent FMCG retail stores, develop a technology to integrate into multiple different till systems, and get the large FMCG brands to spend marketing budget in these stores,” he explains.

Today, after a decade of hard work, Retail Engage has a national footprint with offices in Durban and Johannesburg, and staff across 60 different towns, communities, townships and rural hubs. The business has expanded recently into Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Angola and Zambia, offering customer rewards solutions to multinational companies in these countries.

If this isn’t enough, the business is also on the road to being the biggest independent database in South Africa that is POPI (The Protection of Personal Information Act 4) compliant. This growing database, combined with the impressive IP that has been created to date, and the vast footprint that Retail Engage has managed to create, makes Andrew Weinberg a deserving winner of the overall competition accolade.

On being named this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year®, Weinberg says that he is honoured to receive the title and hopes to continue taking Retail Engage from strength to strength. “With very little capital, I have managed to develop a multi-million rand company, with exceptional growth year-on-year, and high profitability. It feels amazing to be acknowledged for this.

“However, I truly believe that this is just the beginning, and hope to use this award as a springboard for further growth of the company,” he concludes.

For more information on 2Engage and Retail Engage, please visit the website:

Local e-commerce specialist named Innovator of the Year in entrepreneurial competition

Due to his impressive feat of driving digital transformation among local businesses, Wynand Geldenhuys, the founder and owner of Vectra, has been awarded the Innovator of the Year® awardat the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners awards ceremony, which was held on 4 September 2019 in Johannesburg.

A modern-day information technology consultancy that specialises in creating integrated e-commerce solutions through a unique data-driven design approach, Vectra is the largest South African based e-commerce specialist. Since launching in 2017, the business has achieved over 100% year-on-year growth in turnover, profit and employees.

“I started Vectra in 2017 to help South African companies keep apace with global e-commerce trends through digital transformation. My goal has always been to create sustainable software solutions that will make our customers more competitive and enable them to compete on an international level,” says Geldenhuys.

By collaborating with customers, Vectra has already enabled vast digital transformation in industries ranging from Retail and Manufacturing, to Financial Services and Healthcare. “Our process entails working closely with our customers to understand their business challenges and opportunities. Once we understand their business needs, our team develops a prototype and business case.”

“While we offer a range of services, our main area of focus remains e-commerce solutions. We enable companies to leverage the internet to drive sales by taking care of the technical complexities such as software development, integration and security required to trade online,” explains Geldenhuys.

When asked what sets Vectra apart from other software development companies, Geldenhuys says that it comes down to constantly pushing boundaries. “The very nature of our business requires us to push the boundaries of what is possible with technology, but we’ve always taken this very seriously. This is why much of our efforts support research and development in pursuit of differentiating our customers’ businesses through innovative software solutions.

“Our secret weapon, however, is that we attract and hire the best people in our industry allowing us to execute more effectively than anyone else,” he adds.

Unsurprisingly, this is not the first time that Vectra has been acknowledged for their innovative business solutions. The company was recently nominated for the prestigious SAP Quality Awards in the category of Innovation, competing against global companies such as Accenture and Deloitte. 

On being named this year’s Innovator of the Year®, Geldenhuys says he is honoured, and hopes that his success inspires other hopeful entrepreneurs to follow his footsteps. “To all those aspiring innovators out there, I am living proof that it is possible to start a company on your own, regardless of your qualifications and experience. You just need to be willing to fully commit yourself to learn how to run a business while also doing the actual work involved in delivering a service or product.”

Visit for more information.

Local fruit export company recognised as 2019 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®

27-year-old B Com graduate, Uzair Essack has been named Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® at the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS at an awards ceremony held on 4 September 2019 in Johannesburg.  

Essack is the founder of Cape Crops, a fruit and vegetable export company based in Cape Town that sources produce from South Africa and exports it to over 23 countries.

“I started Cape Crops in 2015 out of desperation to sustain myself and my family financially. My grandfather and father were both self-starting businessmen, so entrepreneurship has always been in my blood and I did what came naturally to me,” says Essack on his journey.

Essack started his entrepreneurial journey by importing rice from Pakistan and India. He was later introduced to a businessperson from Saudi Arabia who was interested in purchasing pineapples from South Africa. Following the successful and profitable pineapple-exporting venture, Essack decided to expand his offering and revisit his business model.

“In just over three years, we’ve built a global export business that has gone from nothing to a revenue of R34 million. I believe that the reason for our success is our business model, which makes us stand out in a highly competitive and traditional industry.”

The company’s unique business model has successfully turned the industry on its head. All his farmers are paid in full at fixed price, upfront in cash before the produce leaves the farm gate.  “I want the farmer to focus on producing the freshest and highest quality produce and not have to worry about when he’ll get paid, which is traditionally 60-90 days later. I get a cash discount, which immediately makes me more competitive and I get first choice of the produce.”

Today, Cape Crops has two full-time employees and over 10 procurement and sales agents who earn on a commission basis. “Indirectly, we contribute to the employment of thousands of individuals, such as farm workers, packers, cold-room employees, logistics agents who all form part of our value chain,” says Essack.

Cape Crops’ use of technology as a marketing strategy has also given the business an advantage of its competitors. In addition to this, their marketing matrix is tailor-made to accommodate the different regions in which they operate.

“We use my social media pages; Whatsapp broadcast lists and email-newsletters to offer clients the produce we will be shipping for the week. To attract new clients, we use Facebook paid marketing and also send out brochures.”  

Essack understands the value of building relationships. By employing a sales agent who focuses solely on building the businesses global network, Cape Crops has built a name for itself in the Middle East, Europe and more recently tapping into other African markets.

“Our key sales agent is a Lebanese gentleman, fluent in both Arabic and English, who helps us to overcome the language barrier with my Middle Eastern customers. His fee is always built into our costs meaning that our margin will never be reduced due to the use of his services.”

On being recognised as this year’s Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, Essack says he is proud to be contributing to the local economy and showcasing South African produce on a global stage.

“I started this company as a student, with limited knowledge and experience, and have established myself as a young person of colour in an industry traditionally dominated by seasoned Afrikaans men. I plan on taking the global industry by storm and giving the world a taste of Africa.” 

Visit http for more information.

Local winery named Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® in entrepreneurial competition

Johannesburg: 04 September 2019: Through sheer grit and resilience, Carmen Stevens has built a winemaking empire, resulting in numerous industry awards and, most recently, earning her the title of Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners.

Stevens, the founder of the independent small-batch winery based in Stellenbosch, Carmen Stevens Wines, was recognised not only for her entrepreneurial excellence, but also for the commitment shown to her community, at the annual awards ceremony, held this morning in Johannesburg.

“I have full faith in the product we produce and the business I’ve built, but each award serves as validation for all the hard work we put in, day in and day out. To be recognised for my passion is even more of a victory for me,” says Stevens, who hails from the Cape Flats.

Stevens faced multiple barriers to entry in the industry, having been denied admission to South Africa’s top winemaking schools twice because of the colour of her skin. However, this didn’t stop her from becoming South Africa’s first qualified black winemaker in 1995. She then established her winery in 2011, after paying her dues in the local winemaking industry and having spent 10 years in California.

From humble beginnings, the business today produces 150 tons of wine and in 2018 had a turnover of R8.1 million. Stevens says that innovation and continued creativity have played a major role in this success. “Constant product innovation is key to the business and ensures that we continue to tap into new target markets. This has resulted in the creation of a sparkling wine aimed at novice wine drinkers and vegan-friendly wines, to name a few.”  

Despite this well-earned businesses success, Stevens remembers her early childhood desire to make a difference and leave a mark on the world. It is with a great sense of fulfilment and joy that she speaks of her community outreach programme, which serves her old neighbourhood and surrounds. “Nothing beats a good education and healthy nutrition, but unfortunately where I am from, there wasn’t always money to ensure children had access to these vital needs.”

In the year she established her own label, she knew she wanted to give back and so she started the Carmen
Stevens Foundation.

Working closely with Naked Wines and her extensive network of overseas clients (“Angels”), Carmen started supporting the efforts of the Peninsula School Feeding Association (PFSA) with a soup kitchen. Her investment in really getting to know her customers through her strong online presence and inspirational story has resulted in many of them becoming regular supporters of the foundation. 

“The generosity of our ‘Angels’ and our ongoing fundraising campaigns over the years have raised millions for the PFSA. Over the last three years, more than one million meals have been served to over 6 000 learners affected by poverty in 11 communities in the Western Cape, including Kraaifontein, Belhar and Elsies River. The initiative also employs 42 women who prepare the food,” she explains.

On being named the 2019 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Carmen says that she has big plans for the future. She wants to carry on doing what she loves, while giving back to her community and supporting those in need. “My goal is to have a home for my wine and to own my own vineyards within the next five years, that way I can give more women a children a second chance at a better future.”

Visit for more information.

Local sneaker brand named Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year® in entrepreneurial competition

Armed with a bold vision and a proudly South African story to tell, entrepreneur and CEO of Bathu Swag, Theo Baloyi has earned himself the title of Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the year at the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners. Baloyi, who is a trained accountant, and the visionary behind the African-centric footwear brand, was honoured for his entrepreneurial zeal at the annual awards ceremony held on 4 September 2019 in Johannesburg.

“I was an accountant for PWC for five years before starting Bathu in 2015.  I wanted to share the untold story of South African townships with the world, and thought what better way to do it than through ibathu – a word commonly used to refer to any type of shoe in township slang.”

Established in his room in Alexandra Township, Baloyi poured his savings from his corporate job into seed capital and spent 18 months working on the proof concept, research and development, and quality control, before launching the business.

Bathu’s flagship design – the mesh edition – is a sneaker manufactured 100% out of mesh material. While most sneaker brands use mesh material as a component of the shoe, Bathu manufactures fully mesh edition sneakers, with the idea to create a sneaker that blows air onto your feet as you walk, while showing off your colourful socks.

“From launching our flagship mesh design in 2015 with only four different colour combinations, we now have 13 and recently introduced two more designs, namely the Mesh Edition 2.0 and the Journey Edition.”

From only seven employees in June 2018, Bathu has grown into a successful business that employs 36 permanent members of staff, occupies four retail stores, and has a thriving e-commerce site. On a deeper level, however, Baloyi’s vision was to build a business that will empower his community by creating sustainable jobs, and give hope to the youth.

“I would drive back home to Alex and always see unemployed youth. I want to personally be part of a story that not only contributes to sustainable employment, but also inspires to everyone and reignites hope for the youth in my community.”

Turning this vision into a reality, Baloyi proudly proclaims that from the 36 current employees, 25 are originally from Alexandra Township. “We have excelled in creating employment for people in our community, and building a value chain with good corporate governance. We have a growth plan to open six more stores by June 2020 with the hope of employing more people.”  

Born in the township. Designed by a dream. Built for your journey. This may be the brand’s business motto, but it also personifies Baloyi’s story of success.I am truly honoured to be named this year’s Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year® and know that this will catapult the Bathu brand to new heights.”

Visit for more information. 

SA’s premier entrepreneurial competition announces 2019 winners

Following a gruelling judging process and assessment of 15 inspiring finalists, South Africa’s premier annual entrepreneurial competition, the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, announced this year’s overall victor, as well as five category winners, at an awards ceremony held in Johannesburg on 4 September 2019.

The event saw Andrew Weinberg, Managing Director of Retail Engage, walk away with the coveted title of 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year®. Speaking at the awards ceremony, spokesperson for the competition, Gugu Mjadu says that while this was by no means an easy decision, the judges were all in agreement that Weinberg stood out in terms of his entrepreneurial spirit and the scalability of his business.

“Given the exceptionally high calibre of this year’s finalists, choosing one overall winner required lengthy deliberation among our esteemed judging panel. However, there was no denying that Weinberg’s customer engagement and incentives solutions business, Retail Engage, was a notch above the rest because of its innovative approach to providing retailers with insight into purchasing behaviour.”

The four 2019 category winners are:

  • 2019 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year®: Theo Baloyi, founder and owner of Bathu Swag. With a bold vision to build an African-centric footwear brand that can compete with big names on a global scale, Theo Baloyi is the entrepreneur behind the inspiring township success story of Bathu Swag.
  • 2019 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Carmen Stevens, founder and owner of Carmen Stevens Wines. Carmen Stevens Wines is an independent, award-winning small batch winery and the only black-owned brand in South Africa. 95% of the wines are exported under the Catoria label and marketed via online wine retailer, Naked Wines.
  • 2019 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Uzair Essack, founder and owner of Cape Crops. Cape Crops is a fruit and vegetable export company based in Cape Town, which has turned the traditional fruit and veg sales model on its head by taking a tech savvy approach and utilising innovative marketing strategies.
  • 2019 Innovator of the Year: Wynand Geldenhuys, founder and owner of Vectra. Vectra is a modern-day information technology consultancy that specialises in creating integrated e-commerce solutions through a unique data-driven design approach.

Now in its 31st year, the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners provides prizes worth R2 million. Each of the five category winners received R70 000, and the overall winner received R200 000, towards further growing their businesses.

Beyond these monetary prizes, Mjadu adds that each of this year’s winners will also receive invaluable technical assistance and mentorship support, networking opportunities and associated marketing and national media exposure to further drive their business’ success. “Based on feedback from our past winners, this support and exposure has often proven to be just as valuable as any capital injection.”

Five reasons entrepreneurs should enter business competitions

As an entrepreneur you are often expected to fulfil many roles within your enterprise, leaving you with little to no time to focus on activities that don’t directly contribute to the bottom line or improve your business in the short term. Business competitions are usually grouped into the non-essential category because of the perceived admin of entering. But they could be just what your business needs to take it to the next level – providing important opportunities to grow your business through additional media exposure and capital, mentorship as well as serving as a benchmark for business growth. 

Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says that apart from the cash prize money, which can be put towards funding the growth of the business, entering a business competition allows entrepreneurs to gain a different perspective of their businesses, which can prove to be more valuable than funding.

This is the aim of the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says Mjadu. “While the competition offers winning entrants prizes valued at over R2 million – with cash prizes of R70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner – winners will also receive valuable mentorship support including a diagnostic analysis of the business, networking opportunities and national media exposure.”

“It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business and get distracted with the various tasks and challenges. Presenting a business to a judging panel not only forces you to reflect on your enterprise, but also exposes you to experts who can analyse it and point out aspects that you may have overlooked during the rush of running and managing your own company.”

Mjadu adds that as access to capital to grow a business is considered one of the top challenges for many entrepreneurs, taking part in a business competition is one of the most cost-effective measures to grow awareness of the business without dipping into the business’ resources for marketing.

Mjadu shares five reasons why entrepreneurs should consider entering a business competition:

1. The cash prize money

While not the most important aspect in the greater scheme for the business, a cash lump sum offers you the potential to either pay off existing business finance debt or use the capital to expand the current business or fund new avenues.

2. Expanded network of likeminded people

A business competition brings together a group of people with the same objective – to build and grow a successful business. Apart from the opportunity to learn from fellow entrepreneurial entrants, you are able to engage with credible business experts and mentors involved in the competition and have the opportunity to draw on their business knowledge and insight. Some business competitions also offer an alumni network that entrepreneurs can tap into for new ideas and wisdom.    

3. Access to business experts and independent analysis of your business

As part of an entry process, the competition judging panel is required to analyse the entrant’s business to gauge worthiness of being named a winner in the competition. Through this process, you get an independent and fresh perspective on your business, as well as learn valuable lessons about your business plan and model. The in-depth judging process allows you to gain greater insight and awareness of opportunities and challenges that exist. While it can be difficult to accept constructive criticism at times, you should embrace the opportunity to have your businesses scrutinised by a group of experts.

4. Acknowledging a business’ true value and capabilities

Entrepreneurial competitions offer the necessary push for you to analyse your own business’ worth. Entrepreneurs are often so involved in the operations of the business, that they don’t realise the true success of the business and what it may be worth. This downplayed perception of success can hinder a business’s growth path and prevent it from capitalising on potential opportunities.

5. Increase the profile of your business

Building a positive reputation is often a key challenge that business owners encounter on their entrepreneurial journey as smaller businesses can’t compete with larger market players’ marketing spend and advertising campaigns. Not only are entrepreneurial competitions cost-effective to enter, but if you reach finalist stage the awareness thereafter can have a significant knock-on effect for your business’ brand and bottom line.

All South African businesses are eligible to enter the free-to-enter 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, now in its 31st year.  Prizes will be awarded across six categories, namely: Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®; Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Job Creator of the Year; and Innovator of the Year.

The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2019. Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can download or complete entry forms online at; the three page document will only take on average 15 minutes to complete. Entrepreneurs can also interact with fellow entrepreneurs and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms and

Move to improve the entrepreneurial eco-system applauded

Plans to consider legislative changes by the Small Business Development department as contained in the Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s maiden Budget Speech are expected to go a long way towards making the entrepreneurial eco-system more conducive for the formation and growth of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs).

This is according to Gugu Mjadu, Spokesperson for the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS who says the strategy by the small business department to undertake various legislative and policy reviews and amendments should lead to the decline in the notorious red tape cited by many entrepreneurs as one of the impediments in their entrepreneurial endeavours.

Mjadu also makes the following commentary on aspects of today’s Budget Speech impacting entrepreneurs and small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs):

Employment Tax Incentive

“In addition to the 10 year extension of the employment tax incentive introduced in 2014, Minister Mboweni announced that the income eligibility thresholds for the incentive will be increased. The decision is a move in the right direction to curb youth unemployment while rewarding employers particularly entrepreneurs for creating much needed jobs.

“From as soon as next month, employers can claim R1 000 per month in tax incentive for young employees earning up to R4 500 – up from R4 000. The impact of this on entrepreneurs is a positive one as those currently evaluating the viability of hiring staff will now hopefully be more inclined to do so. In the process, these SMMEs will not only be creating much needed employment for the youth but by hosting them in their companies thus exposing young people to the world of entrepreneurship, they will be contributing towards stimulating entrepreneurial activity.

“Job creation is everybody’s responsibility, and through this scheme, entrepreneurs can play their part – and benefit from it too,” says Mjadu.

Small Enterprise Development Agency

“Minister Mboweni announced that the National Treasury has allocated R481,6 million to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) to expand the small business incubation programme. This is another positive step for stimulating entrepreneurship in the country and increasing chances of survival for SMMEs.

“Furthermore, the R3,2 billion budget allocation over the MTEF for the small business and innovation fund addresses one of the biggest barriers to entry for entrepreneurs – funding. This and other budget increases for initiatives targeted at financing entrepreneurs by Government is applauded particularly when we consider that 88% of all entrepreneurs are self-funded,” says Mjadu.

Budget Speech: A view from the entrepreneurship sector

“While we appreciate steps being taken by Government to bolster entrepreneurship in the country, we believe more needs to be done by both the public and private sector in order to achieve the National Development Goals. In particular, we would like to see finality around the relaxation of visa regulations to make it easier for tourists to invest in and visit South Africa as this sector houses a high number of entrepreneurs, has low barriers of entry for SMMEs and is one of the biggest contributors to the country’s GDP,” Mjadu concludes.