Another showcase of entrepreneurial excellence

2011 EOY competition entries open

South Africa’s most prestigious entrepreneurial awards are once again open for entries.

The 2011 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® awards recognise and celebrate the innovation, drive and commitment of small and medium enterprise (SME) decision makers – the men and women that feed, clothe and grow our country.

Now in its 22nd year, the awards will also introduce a number of new initiatives to further the SME cause.

This includes an SME Conference in May where industry representatives, civil society and senior government decision makers debate the future of the sector.

In addition, the hugely successful workshop series has been expanded and 11 regional centres will play host to SME experts in the coming months.

The cream of South Africa’s entrepreneurs will be celebrated in September during the Gala awards ceremony.

In addition to the current categories – overall Entrepreneur of the Year, Emerging Entrepreneur (business younger than three years old), Small Business Entrepreneur (turnover up to R20 million) and Medium Business Entrepreneur (turnover greater than R20 million) – the 2011 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® awards will also honour the essence of entrepreneurship through the Innovation Award.

“There were a number of very apt categories to add to this prestigious award but we feel that the concept and talent to innovate is a vital component for entrepreneurs to stay ahead of the pack,” says Entrepreneur of the Year® Manager, Vicky Nish.

Innovators will forever be the leaders as they will always be one step ahead. True innovators apply this characteristic in every part of their business and not just in product development.

Each winner will receive R20 000 in cash and the overall winner walks away with R100 000 and the opportunity to visit a tradeshow anywhere in the world.

Martin Beyers, the 2010 winner and co-owner of CERadvance Engineering Ceramics, says the competition’s value should not be underestimated:

“Entrepreneurs need this kind of recognition much more often than one tends to think… To have such a competent and well-versed adjudicating team look over your shoulders, probe your business plan, look at your balance sheet, question your sustainability and future strategies and to then give you the nod of approval is a source of great satisfaction.

“It was also a great inspiration to continue with renewed effort, since after nearly 20 years in any industry, one can be forgiven for becoming a bit lethargic at times.

“I am a great believer in benchmarking exercises and personal improvement exercises.”

Business Partners Limited Executive Director Christo Botes says the workshops will also add value to the greater SME sector through practical, easy to understand entrepreneurial advice.

“Through the annual international conference, we will furthermore be able to become the Voice of SMEs. This is all exciting stuff and we can indeed say that these initiatives can collectively enhance an inspirational culture of entrepreneurship.”

Jan Steenkamp, the Executive Head, Cobalt Solutions, Sanlam, believes that at least 400 entrepreneurs will step forward to be judged.

He adds that the objective for the competition remains unchanged, namely to celebrate the successful entrepreneur.

At the same time the SME sector will receive more exposure, helping new entrepreneurs to realise their business dreams.

“The SME sector has been one the most important segments for Sanlam over the years and by supporting this initiative, we believe we are giving something back to our business owner clients. In the process we are also demonstrating Sanlam’s commitment to a tailor made, segment based approach to serving our clients.”