In order to celebrate entrepreneurial excellence, Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® (EOY) have been staging business workshops around South Africa to create platforms for entrepreneurs to network and learn from each other. During April, workshops were held in Nelson Mandela Bay, as well as Pietermaritzburg.
In Nelson Mandela Bay guests were addressed by local successful entrepreneur and former EOY winner, Mzukisi Stephen Dondolo, who is chief executive officer of investment firm African Pioneer Ltd. Dondolo discussed the importance of entrepreneurship in South Africa, while paying homage to the competition, which he believes is playing an active role in fostering entrepreneurship.
He said that entrepreneurs need to band together and lobby Government in order to improve the environment for SMEs. “Government needs to pay more attention to the need for SMEs in South Africa, as they are able to address the high level of unemployment.”
Dondolo said that it was a great honour to speak at the workshop as both Business Partners Limited and Sanlam have contributed to growing small businesses in the country.
Duncan Paul, a highly successful entrepreneur with eight thriving businesses, spoke at the workshop in Pietermaritzburg. His advice to entrepreneurs is to ‘set goals and never give up’.
Paul shared the story of starting his entrepreneurial journey and discussed the difficulty he experienced when sourcing funding for his business.
“I had a big vision, which scared the formal banking sector, and I couldn’t raise money anywhere. Business Partners Limited has always been in the right place at the right time for me.”
While working to commercialise wildlife utilisation within Bophuthatswana national parks, Paul realised how systems and disciplines in a business could pay off, and decided to make a go of it on his own by founding Hunters and Guides with eight other partners. He says that the involvement of Business Partners Limited has brought the same benefits to his businesses today.
“I have learned from them. Byron Jacobs [Business Partners Limited’s regional general manager for KwaZulu-Natal] is a mentor to me and has guided and advised me through troubled times.”
During his address Paul shared personal business lessons that he has learnt over the years. Advising entrepreneurs to remain steadfast and follow their passion, Paul also recommended that entrepreneurs should be cautious when selecting partners, but should never burn bridges.
“Do the right things in everything you do, and doors will open,” said Paul when advising guests to lead a life of integrity.
Both entrepreneurs addressed key issues facing all entrepreneurs, while reiterating the importance of developing SMEs in the country. They are both great examples of entrepreneurial success stories and evidence of why more should be done to celebrate entrepreneurial excellence in South Africa.