Seven SA star entrepreneurs recognised at premier competition

Mining engineer, Samuel and Motlapele Molefi – founders and owners of Modi Mining CC – were named this morning as the overall winners of the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS. Modi Mining provides contract mining services to companies specialising in the South African mining sector.

Speaking at the event that celebrated three full decades of discovering and cultivating the best entrepreneurial talent that South Africa has to offer, spokesperson for the 2018 edition of the competition, Gugu Mjadu, said that the Molefi couple was selected as the overall 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® winners because of the remarkable growth and expansion their business has exhibited, in spite of a harsh economic climate.

“Despite operating within an industry that continues to face significant challenges, Modi Mining has experienced average growth of over 30% per annum since starting operations in 2011, increasing net asset value from below R1 million in 2012 to over R80 million last year. This is truly impressive!” says Mjadu.

Other 2018 category winners are:

  • Beverley Gumbi, the founder and owner of Isivuno Container Business (“Isivuno”) was awarded a special Judges Prize in this year’s competition.  The judges prize was introduced in 2014 and seeks to acknowledge a business that may not yet be at the same level of the other entrepreneurs (in terms of size and turnover), but makes an impression on the judges due to the business’ social impact and future potential and the business owner’s attitude and positive entrepreneurial outlook.

Mjadu says the judges believe that Gumbi has the entrepreneurial attitude and determination required to go far. “Beverley’s energy is just contagious and, while she is a female with no engineering experience or technical training, she is tackling a traditionally male-dominated industry and making a success of it!”

As part of this year’s 30-year celebration of the annual competition, the judges also recognised the illustrious South African entrepreneur and property developer, Dr. Richard Maponya, with a Lifetime Achiever award.  

“Dr Richard Maponya is an entrepreneur par excellence and his family name is synonymous with entrepreneurship in South Africa. He did not only make a success of business in an era when black entrepreneurs faced many obstacles that prevented them from being successful but has built a formidable business empire in the democratic South Africa which should remain for generations to come.

Dr Maponya is a legend and excellent role model for entrepreneurs in South Africa across all genders and races. It is a true honour that he has availed himself to accept our Lifetime Achiever Award.”

The competition provides prizes worth R 2 million, which include cash prizes of R70 000 per category and R200 000 for the overall winner, towards further growing their businesses. Beyond these monetary prizes, Mjadu adds that each winner will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and associated marketing and national media exposure to further drive their business’ success. “Past winners have also gone on to win other prominent national and international awards as a result of their success in the competition and form valuable partnerships with fellow winners and finalists.”

Now in its 30th year, this competition and others like it serve a particularly important purpose in South Africa, concludes Mjadu. “Entrepreneurial competitions of this calibre serve a dual purpose – they are a celebration of the hard-working self-starters in the country, and also act to inspire budding entrepreneurs who have the potential to create employment and economic growth at a time where the country is facing numerous challenges in this regard.”

Entrepreneur of the Year® competition honours Dr Richard Maponya

The Lifetime Achiever Award is the highest accolade in the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS and it is never up for competition. The deeds and achievements of the person who receives the award speak for themselves.

The Lifetime Achiever Award is conferred on an established entrepreneur who has made great strides in business over many years. In our 30 year history, we have only ever given this award once in 2015 to Ms Margaret Hirsch, co-founder of Hirsch’s.

Our 2018 Lifetime Achiever Awardee is Ntate Dr Richard JP Maponya, Chairman of Maponya Holdings. Dr Maponya is a living legend and his family name is synonymous with entrepreneurship in South Africa. He is an outstanding role model for entrepreneurs across all genders and races and an excellent mentor.

He was awarded the South African National Order, the Grand Counsellor of the Baobab (GCOB), in April 2007 and his contributions to the South African economy cannot be overstated. As the Entrepreneur of the Year® committee, we are honoured that he granted us permission to celebrate him.

Dr Maponya is an epitome of an entrepreneur.

  • Born in Thlabine, a small village near Lenyenye, Tzaneen, in what we now know as Limpopo, Dr Maponya was trained as a teacher which is not surprising that he mentors other entrepreneurs.
  • He became an entrepreneur around the age of 24 in an era when black entrepreneurs faced many obstacles that prevented them from being successful.
  • From clothing to milk delivery service to cars, retail and property development, he persevered and made a success of business.
  • Dr Maponya is a visionary. In 1979 he secured land in Soweto, first on a 100-year lease and then, in 1994, after several attempts, he acquired it outright. This is the land on which Maponya Mall, one of the largest shopping centres in the country, was built and opened in 2007.
  • He was part of South Africa’s power couple and part of his success is attributable to the beautiful partnership with his late wife, Marina Maponya. Together they raised entrepreneurial children, successful in their own right.
  • Dr Maponya is an activist and was the Founder and President of NAFCOC (the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in 1965.
  • Dr Maponya is a community builder and since SA is celebrating 100 years of Nelson Mandela, it is worth noting that Dr Maponya is Founder and Trustee of Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He is also the man who drove President Mandela on the day he was released from jail and he also provided the fleet of vehicles used on that special day.
  • Dr Maponya has built a formidable business empire in the democratic South Africa, which should remain for generations to come.