Local female entrepreneurs ‘making it happen’ across SA’s sectors

This coming Saturday, 8 March, marks International Women’s Day 2015, and highlights the need for various countries around the world to celebrate the achievements of women.

Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for of the 2015 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition says that this year’s global International Women’s Day theme, ‘Make It Happen’, is very fitting for the role that South African female entrepreneurs play in the local economy. She says that the entrepreneurial competition has witnessed a definite increase in the number of female entrants, as well as in quality and entrepreneurial talent over the past few years. “The female winners who have taken their future into their own hands, and have successfully carved out a niche for themselves in their industries, and made a significant impact on their local communities.”

Now in its 27th year, the history of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition showcases the rise of female entrepreneurs in the country. Since 1988, the competition has produced 51 winners across various categories, of which over 30% (16) were female winners.

Mjadu adds that it is interesting to notice the shift in sectors that South African female entrepreneurs are now operating in. “We are increasingly seeing a shift from ‘traditional’ markets, such as hospitality and retail, to female entrants operating within the medical and transport industry, sectors which may have been traditionally male dominated in the past.”

Mjadu points to some example of the past female winners that followed their dreams to start a business and develop it into the successful operation it is today.

  • Theresa J Cupido, CEO and owner of ATN Group (Pty) Ltd was awarded the 2014 Job Creator of the Year®. The business, established in August 2006, operates in the roadmarking and Civil engineering field, and today employs between 250 and 300 individuals after growing the business’ employment rate by 100% in the last year.
  • Overall 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year® winner, Adri Kruger, is the owner of Tzaneen Country Lodge, a country style hotel situated just outside Tzaneen in the Limpopo Province. Starting with an old and dilapidated farmstead in 2000, Kruger managed to successfully develop what was intended to be a four-bedroomed guest house into a full service 60 bedroom hotel, and conference and event venue that accommodates up to 500 delegates.
  • 2014 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®, Marthie Jansen Van Rensburg, founder of Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Centre (Pty) Ltd, established her business after noticing the need for an alternative method to the traditional schooling system. Today, the center employs 40 fulltime staff and has been recognised with numerous industry and commercial accolades due to its success and focus on social development.
  • Pharmacist, Mariaan du Plessis, co-founder and owner of Medical Nutritional Institute (Pty) Ltd with Dr. Conrad Smith, was awarded the 2013 Innovator of the Year® title due to their innovative product range for a South African company, and the fact that they are able to compete internationally among other successful global products.
  • Margaret Hirsch, Chief Operations Officer of national appliance store, Hirsch’s, was awarded the Lifetime Achiever Award in 2013. Established in 1979, Margaret and her husband, Allan, started Hirsch’s from a tiny showroom in Durban with just R900 that they had saved. At the end of 2012 the business successfully reached R1 billion in turnover.
  • 2012 Job Creator of the Year® winner, Madelé Ferreira of Mooihoek Boerdery, was awarded the title after growing her farm, from a few hundred plants in 1998, to a multi-million rand enterprise which supplies spinach, leeks and strawberries to leading national chain store groups.
  • Tabisa Nomnganga of Bravo Promotions, 2012 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year® title winner, started her business after recognising an opportunity to implement branded entertainment communication strategies and campaigns, and today runs a profitable and thriving business.

The 2014 Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI) reported that the African region is characterised by a high level of female entrepreneurial drive, with an average of 69% of the female population identifying opportunities to start a business. Mjadu says that while the rising number of female winners in the competition is encouraging, much more needs to be done to promote female entrepreneurship in the country. She points to the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, which revealed that Total female early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) in South Africa – those in the process of starting a venture and or have been running a new business for less than 3.5 years – is only 6.29% of the total local female population, down from 9% the previous year (2013).

Mjadu says that it is imperative that the country continues to promote and recognise female entrepreneurial leaders in South Africa and profile them as role model. “South Africa is home to many successful female entrepreneurs, and in order to continue encouraging entrepreneurship, it is vital for the country to regularly recognise, celebrate and reward the women making a difference,” concludes Mjadu.

Margaret Hirsch scoops Lifetime Achiever Award

Margaret-HirschMargaret Hirsch, Chief Operations Officer of national appliance store, Hirsch’s, was awarded the Lifetime Achiever Award at the annual Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® Competition, which was held in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 4 September 2013.

Serving as a remarkable inspiration and role model to aspiring entrepreneurs, Hirsch, the first recipient of this award in the history of the competition, was celebrated for her significant contribution towards South African entrepreneurship.

Introduced in 2013, the Lifetime Achiever Award aims to commemorate seasoned entrepreneurs who have continually contributed towards the development and growth of South African entrepreneurship. This award will not only be obtainable by future competition finalists, but also among relevant industry veterans.

According to Hirsch, this award pays tribute to entrepreneurs who have remained focused on achieving their goals, and should serve to inspire the next generation of South African entrepreneurs. “Awards such as these convey the message that there are opportunities available for those with the correct mindset to create wealth and do extremely well in our country.”

Established in 1979, Margaret and her husband Allan started Hirsch’s from a tiny showroom in Durban. Specialising in air conditioning and fridge repairs, the company then expanded and began selling new products to their loyal client base. 34 years later, Hirsch’s has grown significantly and now boasts 12 stores as well as five concept stores across the country. In addition, the company currently provides employment to approximately 785 people.

According to Ferose Oaten, a member of the 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® judging panel, Hirsch’s entrepreneurial success is a powerful reminder of the fact that there are always opportunities available to entrepreneurs – even when others might only see challenges.

“Her life is testimony to the resilience, patience and focus that makes a good entrepreneur. Hirsch is an inspiring role model to many entrepreneurs in South Africa and is a brilliant example of the type of leaders that we need to build wealth and prosperity in the country,” concludes Oaten.

For more information on Hirsch’s, please visit their website www.hirschs.co.za

2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® winners named

group

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.