Momtrepreneur named Job Creator of the Year®

For her dedication in putting skilled moms back into the South African labour force, Phillipa Geard of has been named Job Creator of the Year® at the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS awards ceremony, held in Johannesburg this morning.

Geard’s online recruitment agency,, recognises that South African moms comprise a valuable portion of the country’s skilled labour force, and therefore caters to a unique gap in the market – providing moms all over the country with the opportunity to juggle both parenthood and a successful career.

From personal experience, Geard realised that there are plenty of moms who have given up successful corporate careers to dedicate more time to their children and families. This, however, was causing the South African economy to experience a “leaky pipeline” of female talent – where the labour force, over time, sees a haemorrhage of valuable, skilled women who choose families over careers.

When seeking flexible employment, Geard explains that traditional recruitment agencies often don’t take these women seriously because the recruitment service tends to be focused on revenue generation, and more money can be made through full-time placements than part-time or reduced-hour placements. was launched in 2012 to uniquely and successfully meet a specific need amongst professional, skilled women or men wanting to return to work in a flexible capacity. The online recruitment agency offers a personalised service for permanent, temporary and contract positions. The team assists employers by shortlisting and providing them with the best applicants for the advertised position. Employers are simply required to offer some kind of flexibility within the required position.

Since launching five years ago, the agency has grown from a one-woman show to a team of eight full-time staff and has acquired nearly 50 000 skilled moms and thousands of registered employers to their database – which includes over 150 skills, ranging from accountants, actuaries, lawyers, risk managers, analysts, managing directors, marketers, to people with digital, human resources and office support skills and many more.

“Phillipa’s dedication to job creation and her success in changing the way employers regard flexibility in the workplace, is exactly what we need in the current South African economy – she is also driving a change in the public perception of the ‘working mom’ and is worthy of being named the 2018 Job Creator of the Year®,” said this year’s competition judges.

For more information on Recruit My Mom, visit their website on

From school-ground salesman to engineering company owner – entrepreneurial ambition pays off

Entrepreneurship has run through Mojalefa Mpele’s veins from a young age, with his journey starting when he began selling sweets and chocolates to fellow class mates at high school. His entrepreneurial drive has since grown substantially, and today Mojalefa is the founder and co-owner of BT Projects – a rapidly growing engineering company which specialises in electrical engineering and hazardous location certification.

Mojalefa began his entrepreneurial journey at the tender age of 14 after noticing that the school tuck shop was struggling to accommodate his peers due to the large amount of students present at the school and the short length of their break times. He saw this as an opportunity to provide a service and started his own small private enterprise which he ran for two years until the headmaster put an end to his successful business. Inspired by this venture, Mojalefa then knew that he wanted to pursue entrepreneurship as a career.

Having learnt that most businesses fail due to poor financial management, Mojalefa chose to strengthen his financial skills after high school and in 2011 he completed a BCom degree. BT Projects was founded in 2012 with business partner Vuyisile Rani in Sasolburg – home to international integrated chemicals and energy company, Sasol, and the area where both entrepreneurs grew up.

Armed with strong financial management, business acumen and marketing skills, BT Projects was born on the premise that clients such as Sasol, and other large energy players, such as Omnia and Consol, focus on their core business while outsourcing electrical maintenance to smaller businesses in the area – such as BT Projects – thereby transferring any associated risks away from their core business focus. In a period of just three years, BT Projects has grown their annual turnover to R12 million whilst establishing networks and building sustainable and economical relationships in the industry.

Mojalefa says that his most valued entrepreneurial skill is the ability to communicate his business vision to potential clients, effectively portraying how his company could be beneficial to them. “I learnt early on that business is about people. I regularly need to ascertain how much my clients’ needs are changing, which requires heavy investment into research so that I can propose technological and future-orientated solutions to them.”

Having benefited from being part of the Murray and Roberts enterprise development programme, Mojalefa strongly believes in mentorship and helping other young entrepreneurs. It is therefore no surprise that he developed an initiative called “BT cares” which focuses on skills development, bursaries and food parcel donations. “My own life has been blessed in many ways, not only because I worked hard or went after specific goals, but because so many people believed in me,” comments Mojalefa.

“Because we are two young, successful men from a township, we are automatically more obliged to assist those who aspire to grow in their respective careers, particularly those from the townships – because we understand how challenging the circumstances are,” he says.

Currently overseeing a team of 25, Mojalefa says that they are looking to quadruple BT Projects’ turnover within the next five years by expanding their clientele to a national scale as well as opening additional offices in Limpopo and Rustenburg.

“We are young men with a dream and hope to inspire other black entrepreneurs to reinvest their profits into their businesses so that they can grow to employ more people and positively impact their communities,” concludes Mojalefa.

2013 EOY entrant journey to business success in competitive financial industry


Many business owners don’t grow up dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur, but grow into the career path later in life. This was the case of Jeanie Harvey, owner of Camelot Business & Financial Solutions, an accounting and tax business which also offers accounting tutoring lessons, and an entrant in the 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition.

While working as a financial manager in the franchise industry in 2011, Jeanie was approached by her then CEO’s wife to assist with her accounting service business. Inspired by this experience, Jeanie considered opening a similar business, and soon after began her entrepreneurial journey.

After conducting extensive research and due diligence, she decided to pursue the opportunity and made the leap to start her own business. “I understood that to be successful in this venture, I had to give it 110% of my time and therefore made the decision to resign from my position as a financial manager,” says Jeanie.

As a new entrepreneur she realised that to ensure the new venture’s success, a clear set of objectives and outcomes was vital for her new business, as well as for her own learning and development as a new business owner.

Jeanie took time to carefully draft a business plan, which included her past experience, a list of services she wanted to offer based on her skill set, as well as her potential target market. “This helped me identify my strengths and enabled me to motivate my services to small business owners who were seeking to outsource their payroll functions, bookkeeping, tax, and monthly SARS returns. I also made the decision to register as tax practitioner with SARS and the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT).”

Once all the due diligence was completed and plans put in place, Camelot Business & Financial Solutions was established in 2012 with just two clients utilising the business’s accounting services. One short year later, Jeanie extended her service offering to include accounting tutoring lessons to high school and first year university students.

When asked about the some of the entrepreneurial challenges she faced, Jeanie says that starting a new business with very few clients is a challenge in itself, as well as building a name for the business in an established industry. “A new business requires dedication and a lot of hard work, but you must believe in yourself and the product you have to offer – this will ultimately determine your success.”

The challenges are worth the effort, when you love what you do and when you are able to reap the rewards of your hard work and establishing something from nothing, says Jeanie. “Being able to see my accomplishments thus far, how my client base has grown, as well as my growth as an entrepreneur is very rewarding.”

These triumphs, and love for what she does, is also clearly visible when Jeanie shares her clients’ stories of success. “A new client was saddled with significant penalties from SARS, and was at the time very pressured and stressed as a result. I managed to get the penalties revoked and will always remember seeing his immediate relief and experiencing his appreciation for my services.”

While Jeanie has only recently opened her business – the inherent entrepreneurial trait of always seeking new opportunities is clear. In the near future, Camelot Business & Financial Solutions aims to expand the business’ service offering to include training and employment of individuals who share the same passion and dedication.

With a bright future ahead of her, Jeanie encourages fellow entrepreneurs to remain steadfast and not to buckle under that the pressure, and regularly reflect on what you have accomplished thus far. “Be thankful for your accomplishments and always consider new opportunities and possibilities,” she concludes.

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).

Identifying entrepreneurial opportunities in the SA marketplace

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” – Steve Jobs

While the current South African economy may present challenging times for local businesses, this period also presents opportunities for entrepreneurs to explore new business ventures or to investigate new ways of taking a business to the next level.

This is according to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, who says that during unpredictable market environments, entrepreneurs should focus on their business’ key competencies, relevance in the market and competitive advantages. “Analysing these areas could lead to innovation as to how the business is run or the introduction of new services and products.”

Given the many changing trends shaping society and consumer needs, as well as improved technology, now is the time for businesses to innovate and shape their business according to these many developing needs, says Botes.

“Many entrepreneurs have started businesses in challenging times with great success due to the business filling a gap in the market. There are many business opportunities currently available in South Africa, and it is vital that entrepreneurs are aware of these opportunities and that they know how to capitalise on them.”

He says one such gap in the market currently is the need for private schooling and education. “It is well documented that the quality of public education has become a concern for parents. Private school Curro saw a gap in the market for affordable private schooling in the market and due to the roaring success of the business have established various primary and high schools all around the country.”

Curro Holdings CEO, Chris van der Merwe, recently said the affordable private schooling market was much larger than initially envisaged, noting that by the end of this financial year the company would already have beaten its 2010 prelisting forecast of 40 schools by 2020.

Other sectors currently offering opportunities include alternative energy sources, the shortage in student accommodation and the African markets which are expanding rapidly, says Botes.

He also points to the most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor which revealed that in 2013, 37.9% of South African respondents believe that there are opportunities to start a business in the country, up slightly from 35% in the 2012 report. Botes says that this highlights the opportunities that are increasingly presenting themselves to entrepreneurs. “Many examples, Curro being one of these, display the value and potential available to entrepreneurs who simply analyse the marketplace around them for opportunities and then capitalise on these gaps with smart business solutions.

“As the local economy continues to grow, so will the number of opportunities begin to grow. This provides opportunities for those entrepreneurs wishing to start a business, as well as opportunities for those entrepreneurs with established businesses to relook at their business and analyse how they are able to improve or expand product lines,” says Botes.

Successful entrepreneurs have a craving, a desire and a need to constantly know more, says Botes. “It is those entrepreneurs that ask industry specialists about the latest trends, those that know which individuals are operating within their sector and those that research new technology that are able to identify the gaps currently in the market.”

He adds that often entrepreneurs think they have to reinvent products or services to have success, but this isn’t always the case. “Entrepreneurs should look at the small things that may have been overlooked or ignored by others, or look for good ideas that were poorly executed. With the right expertise and experience, an entrepreneur may be able to improve on an otherwise failed product or service.

“Entrepreneurs should also research international products and services that may not be known to the local market which could provide opportunities locally.”

Botes says that another secret to success is securing the maximum reward, for the lowest risk possible. “While this often isn’t the reality, if an entrepreneur knows all the risks associated to an investment decision for a new business, a successful entrepreneur should have the ability to consider the risk and commit themselves to a particular business decision,” concludes Botes.

Entrepreneurship attractive on the continent

But SA hesitant to take the leap

South Africa’s economy is projected to steadily grow with 2.7% in 2014 and 3.2% in 2015, and according to Kobus Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, this growth will result in many opportunities for local entrepreneurs. He says that as South Africa’s economy grows, so will the amount of business opportunities available for entrepreneurs to take advantage of.

“South Africa currently offers many new and exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs. However, in order to capitalise on these opportunities, the country’s entrepreneurial spirit needs to be both promoted and encouraged amongst the public.”

The recently released Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2013 Global report, which measures the levels of entrepreneurial activity between economies, revealed that in the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) region an average of 69% of all respondents believe that there are opportunities available to start a business, 47% have intentions to start a business and 74% are confident in their own skills to start a business.

Engelbrecht says that these figures are extremely encouraging for the growth of an entrepreneurship culture in the region, yet South Africa – ranked as the largest economy in Africa by the World Bank – achieved levels below average in these categories. He says that when taking a closer look at the attitudes and perceptions of South Africa, the report reveals that despite slight increases from 2012, perceptions of entrepreneurship in South Africa remained rather low.

“The 2013 report reveals that only 37.9% (up from 35% in 2012) of respondents believe that there are opportunities to start a business in the country, and 42.7% (up from 39% in 2012) believe that they possess the perceived capabilities to open and run a business. These figures highlight the need for a culture of entrepreneurship to be fostered as opportunities are abound and many individuals possess entrepreneurial characteristics. Awareness around how to capture these opportunities and how to develop these skills just need to be created.”

The report also revealed that SSA had the highest average of Total early stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA), which refers to those individuals in the process of starting a business and those running new businesses less than 3.5 years old, when compared to the other global regions.

“While SSA reported an average of 26.6%, South Africa’s TEA is however only 10.6%, and the lowest in the SSA region.”

The report also revealed that South Africa’s established business ownership rate is only 2.9%, which ranks the country last in the SSA region. When comparing South Africa to Brazil, a fellow BRICS economy, the country reported an average of 17.3% and 15.4% for TEA and established business ownership rate respectively.”

While TEA contributes to dynamism and innovation in an economy, established businesses are an important source of stable employment for the economy. Engelbrecht says South Africa’s low business ownership rate is concerning.

“These figures need to remain balanced as while it is important that entrepreneurship is promoted, it is also key to support business growth in order to ensure that SMEs survive the first three year of existence, which are the most risky.”

“Government has acknowledged that small businesses play a pivotal role in job creation and economic growth, and in order to grow both these numbers, investment into small business must be provided. As a result training development initiatives offered by Government, such as Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), have been put in place to assist with the development of entrepreneurs and therefore minimise risk.”

He says that the culture of entrepreneurship in the country is growing slowly and it is starting to be viewed as a legitimate career option. “The 2013 report highlighted that 74% of respondents in South Africa, believe that entrepreneurship is a good career choice.

“While many respondents regard entrepreneurship in a positive light, this doesn’t always translate into individuals actually starting a business. Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship in the country and promoting entrepreneurship as a career path, along with support and advice on how to turn an idea into a reality, is important for improving entrepreneurship levels in the country.

“Individuals starting their entrepreneurial journey do however need to be aware of the challenges they may face so that they are prepared for the ups and downs of running a business. Although they may experience bumps along the road, it will be the most rewarding challenge they have ever undertaken,” concludes Engelbrecht.

2012 winner, William Duk, takes his business to new heights


In light of the recent launch of the 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, which aims to honour, benefit and uplift local entrepreneurs, William Duk of Plantation Shutters and overall 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year, shares his experiences and discusses how his participation in the competition is still having a positive impact on his business.

Duk says that winning the award was a very powerful affirmation and acknowledgement of all the hard work that everyone in the business had put it over the six year period since reviving Plantation Shutters. “There was an extra degree of pride or confidence that suddenly everybody had, based on the credibility that something like this award brings. This, for me, was and has been the most significant aspect of the award.”

Duk’s entrepreneurial success began with a classic stroke of luck. He was in the process of purchasing an industrial building just outside of Cape Town when he stumbled upon a small bankrupt company operating within the premises, and in the spur of the moment, made the decision to take over the business.

Within five years of purchasing Plantation Shutters, a business that designs, manufactures and installs adjustable window and door shutters, Duk doubled the work force and increased its turnover tenfold. The various positive spin-offs from winning the competition has ensued a further 30% growth for the business in 2013, resulting in Plantation Shutters being closer to a R50 million business.

“The credibility of the award has had a positive impact in offering peace of mind to clients choosing to work with Plantation Shutters. When clients are parting with a 50% deposit for a premium product, the award further endorses their purchasing decision, which is definitely a good thing.”

He says that the publicity that the award generated for his business has also provided much more than any marketing budget could have ever achieved.

Apart from Plantation Shutters becoming a thriving business, another business opportunity presented itself to Duk a few months after the winning the competition which enabled him to maximise the mentorship programme which formed part of his prize. The mentorship opportunity enables entrepreneurs to seek valuable advice from a business leader in a similar industry in order to further develop and drive their business.

This new business opportunity presented itself when Duk was approached a couple of years earlier to assist value a business that supplies valves to the mining and related industries across Africa. While a buyer was found, this deal fell through towards the end of 2012 and presented Duk with the opportunity to purchase the business himself.

One of the hurdles to this opportunity was that the business was turning over well in excess of R100 million and the sellers wanted R35 million. “I didn’t have a cent spare cash as I was still busy paying the original founding partner in Plantation Shutters, who I bought out two years ago. I also didn’t particularly want an equity partner as that would have been a very expensive path.”

This predicament resulted in Duk contacting Business Partners Limited to claim his mentorship package, in order to obtain guidance on how best to raise capital. “While the amount needed was outside of Business Partners non-equity based lending criteria, I was put in personal contact with FNB who are very aggressive in the debt based leveraged financing space. Only 10 days later I put in an offer for R35 million which was accepted subject to due diligence, which was primarily around being able to raise the money.”

Duk says that there is no doubt that winning the award in 2012, combined with the favourable turnaround of Plantation Shutters, is what provided the credibility required to raise the cash.

With Duk’s entrepreneurial journey beginning in 2007 when he purchased Plantation Shutters, a then R3 million business, for one Rand, Duk today owns a group of companies with turnover approaching R200 million, with only organic growth and debt based financing along the way.

EOY entrant moving forward in the transport industry

Ashley-Van-der-berg_MD_Rail2RailIn light of October being Transport Month we chat to 2012 competition entrant Ashley van der Berg, Managing Director of Rail2Rail, about his journey as an entrepreneur in the transport industry.

1. Briefly describe your business and the industry you operate in?

Rail2Rail is a specialised concrete railway sleeper manufacturer, based in Kimberley in the Northern Cape.

2. Where did the business concept originate from and when did you start your business?

I noticed a project initiative being undertaken by Transnet (in respect of their enterprise development programme) and established the business in 2007 after we were commissioned to supply one million concrete sleepers to Transnet Freight Rail, for the maintenance of railway lines through South Africa’s 22 000km network.

3. Have you always aspired to start your own business?

I have always effectively been an entrepreneur from an early age. I am currently an active shareholder in two other businesses namely Levenbach Building & Roofing, a construction company and A & H Salvage, both of which are based in Cape Town.

4. Briefly describe some of the challenges that you have experienced as an entrepreneur?

Making concrete railways sleepers is a lot more complicated than it sounds, especially with the technology that is imported from Germany. The skills required to operate this technology have been in short supply, but as a company we have made huge strides in educating our employees, thus ensuring that our products produced are of the best quality amongst our competitors. Being able to secure a reliable supplier in the Northern Cape remains a challenge, particularly in light of our rapid growth.

5. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Never give up! Find your niche, ensure that it is different and use it to your competitive advantage.

6. Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?

Being a key player in the in the supply and production of concrete railway sleepers in South Africa and continuing our company growth plan to expand our current client base and increase production capacity, which will aid our company to become more sustainable. Taking advantage of opportunities in the SADC region.

7. What does a day-in-the-life of Ashley van der Berg consist of?

My focus is on ensuring I keep a finger on the pulse of all aspects of the business, including the daily production reports completed by day and night shifts. I oversee and manage all financial aspects of the business, including cash flow updates. I also make a concerted effort to have regular meetings with customers, both existing and prospective.

8. What is your most memorable experience as an entrepreneur?

Witnessing the construction and opening of our factory, followed by experiencing the factory become operational, as well as seeing the business grow to a level which at first I thought was impossible.

9. What benefits has the development of the transport industry had on South African SMEs?

Transnet Freight Rail and the Department of Transport, as the decision makers in the development of the transport industry, have ensured that there are opportunities for SMEs to grow in this sector. Both entities have created realistic, achievable targets and have played an impactful role in the implementation thereof. In addition, transport (in other non rail sectors) play an important role for all SMEs as the sector ensures they receive supplies and deliver their finished goods and end product to their markets.

10. What are some of the key challenges SMEs owners face in transport industry?

The main challenge is a lack of competition. As we operate within a niche market, we are unable to compare our products to that of our competitors. I feel competition is healthy for any business as it ensures that the end product is of the best quality. Another challenge is the availability of financial assistance for entrepreneurs; this is a key barrier which hinders the growth of entrepreneurship within South Africa.

11. Why would you recommend that fellow entrepreneurs get involved with initiatives such as Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year?

As an entrepreneur you have the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs and listen to their success stories and advice. The media exposure you receive is also extremely valuable and lastly, it is an excellent benchmarking exercise.

Finalists for leading entrepreneurial competition announced

Quality of 2013 entrants praised by judges

After a gruelling first round of judging the 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® judges have announced that 14 finalists have been chosen to go through to the next round of the competition, with the ultimate winner to be announced in September.

According to Nimo Naidoo, project manager of the 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, the quality of entries received this year significantly impressed the judging panel and have set a precedent in terms of entrepreneurial talent and success in South Africa.

She says that they received a record number of entries from talented South African entrepreneurs this year – an increase of over 100% on the 2012 competition. “The calibre of entrants and quality submission content has improved tremendously in comparison to previous years, which bodes well for South Africa’s entrepreneurial future.

We would like to congratulate and commend all entrants, as these are the individuals addressing the unemployment crisis in South Africa and positively playing a role in the growth of our economy. They have all made a significant contribution towards society and all deserve to be celebrated.

This year entrepreneurs from numerous sectors entered the competition, which included the manufacturing, services, retail and construction industry.

She says that there was a slight increase in the number of entries received from female, as well as black entrepreneurs. They also noted that the entries were very varied in terms of location, and that the entrepreneurs seem to be spread throughout South Africa. It was also encouraging to see entries from under-developed areas as these entrepreneurs are making great strides in creating jobs for the community.

“We were very pleased with the number of entries received from entrepreneurs who make a distinct impact on the economy. The number of jobs created by these individuals, in addition to the businesses’ turnover and tax contributions they make, play an important role in the country.”

Naidoo says that the 14 finalists operate in various sectors, the most prominent being the manufacturing and engineering and services sectors.

“Entries from these industries highlight that businesses within the critical manufacturing sector are thriving. It is encouraging that South African entrepreneurs are not afraid to enter this vital job-creation sector, even in the tough current economic climate.”

Naidoo says that in the tough economic climate it is encouraging to receive such an overwhelming response from thriving entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and contributing towards the economy. “In the sometimes challenging business environment, successful entrepreneurial role models need to be celebrated and recognised, which is what the competition strives to do.”

She says that the 2013 finalists stand the chance to win prizes worth R 1 340 000, which includes cash prizes to the value of R300 000. “Beyond the chance to win prizes, previous entrants and finalists have benefitted from the competition’s various networking opportunities and associated marketing efforts.”

The 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® winners will be announced on 4 September 2013 at the official awards breakfast in Johannesburg. “We are very excited to venture into the final stages of this year’s competition and wish all of the entrants the best of luck,” concludes Naidoo.

2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® finalists:

Jonathan David Pepler (Silverline Group), Wendy Kemp (Accountability Group), Tim Matthis (Thirty by Thirty Marketing), Andrew and Chris Brown (The Daily Buzz), Sue Hadcroft (Cubicle Manufacturing Solutions), Anton Rossouw (Life Path Health), Margaret Hirsch (Hirsch’s), Mariaan Du Plessis and Conrad Smith (The Medical Nutritional Institute), Nandha Moodley (Rubber Engineering), Lewis Thomas (Partners Hair Design), Ebrahim Patel (Malcom-Ezindaleni Hydraulics & Engineering (Pty) Ltd), Andre Visser (Fabrinox), Tommy Makhatho (Bibi Cash and Carry), Paul Kent (Sureswipe).

Marketing a key to success for small businesses and entrepreneurs

In the current economic climate entrepreneurs are required to keep their businesses profitable, while spending as little money as possible. As a result, entrepreneurs should adopt an integrated approach to marketing their business, as the heart of a business’s success lies in its marketing strategy.

This is according to Justin Hawes, Managing Director of Scan Display Solutions and 2012 finalist of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, who says that marketing is essential for the growth of a small business.

“Marketing is a process by which a product or service is introduced and promoted to potential customers. Without marketing, a business may offer the best products or services in its respective industry, but potential customers would not know about it. This makes it a vital tool for any entrepreneur entering new markets,” says Hawes.

He says that within the industry there is also a perception that only larger, more established businesses need to adopt marketing strategies. “This perception is definitely incorrect. Businesses of all sizes need to be continually marketed, even in a small way, or it is unlikely that they will grow.”

Hawes says that the marketing world is consistently evolving, creating new ways to engage with consumers, as well as influence them to try new products and services. “These new channels may intimidate small business owners and young entrepreneurs from a technological perspective, but in the current economic climate communication channels such as social media platforms can be very effective, low-cost marketing tools.

Kobus Engelbrecht, Marketing Head of Sanlam Business Market and co -sponsor of the Sanlam/ Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® competition says that while marketers continue to enjoy new media and technology enabled tools, the fundamental marketing model itself has not changed. “People and businesses essentially still want useful products and services.”

Engelbrecht adds that without marketing, potential customers may never be aware of a business’s offerings and business may not be given the opportunity to progress and succeed. “Using marketing to promote your product, service and company provides your business with the best possible chance of being ‘discovered’ by prospective customers.”

He says that marketing also fosters an environment in the marketplace for healthy competition. “Without competition, recognised businesses will continue to dominate the market while lesser known, or new businesses, stand less of a chance of ever becoming successful.”

Hawes says that a marketing programme which gives SMEs the best chance of success often consists of a healthy mix of different forms of marketing, ranging from traditional means to online and social media channels.

He says that traditional marketing activities such as face-to-face communication should not be overlooked. “I really believe in the power of face-to-face communication and strongly advise that SMEs include exhibitions, conferences and networking functions in their strategies. Industry-related networking functions should also not be overlooked as these are cost-effective platforms for promoting a business.

“By spending a little bit of time and effort on marketing, entrepreneurs will see the benefit of investing in this area. In today’s competitive environment, marketing is a powerful tool that will help businesses stand out from the clutter,” concludes Hawes.