Competition entrant turns hobby into successful business

Being an entrepreneur in South Africa is no easy task. Local entrepreneurs need to constantly challenge the obstacles that restrain them and recognise these challenges as opportunities that hold the key to unlocking future success.

The 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition aims to commend successful entrepreneurs who continuously conquer these challenges, while becoming role models for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Prakash Premrajh, founder of UKD Marketing and entrant in the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, started UKD marketing as a humble hobby, fuelled by his passion for woodwork. In 1980, Premrajh turned his pastime into a career path by investing a mere R500 and appointing a single employee. Today, UKD Marketing employs over 300 people and operates on a national scale. The company has grown from an idea into a fully fledged furniture empire.

Premrajh says that he never aspired to be an entrepreneur.

“My vision was to be an accountant, but my passion lay in woodwork and design. This passion began as a hobby and within two years my passion became my life.”

However, Premrajh’s pursuit of this passion was not an easy task and he faced many overwhelming challenges that are common amongst most entrepreneurs.

“My biggest challenge as a small merchandiser was breaking into an industry dominated by large market players. Once this hurdle was overcome and my company began to grow I was faced with another obstacle – financing. Business Partners’ faith in my business has allowed UKD Marketing to take the necessary growing steps. Once I took the step from a regional scale to a national scale I experienced many logistical and administrative challenges in managing such a large enterprise. Overcoming these obstacles is what breeds success and it is key to recognise these challenges as opportunities rather than barriers.”

“My wife Shereen Premrajh joined the company in January 1981 in the admin department. She also used to control the production when I travelled out calling to our customers. Shereen has been a pillar of strength to our company in that she took full control of the administration & control of merchandising. It’s said that behind every successful man is a woman, this proves true.”

Premrajh believes that entrepreneurs can play a pivotal role in the economy if they are not oppressed by ‘red tape’.

“The state has a lucrative opportunity to create jobs and generate economic growth by creating a hospitable environment for entrepreneurship to flourish in South Africa. Being an entrepreneur in South Africa is no easy task, therefore recognising and congratulating the successful entrepreneurial minds of our country is of the utmost importance.”

Premrajh entered the 2012 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition with the intention of gaining valuable business exposure.

“My business relies on credibility and reliability, and I feel that success in such a prestigious event would directly translate into improved client confidence and better sales results.”