Finalists announced for premier entrepreneurial competition’s 30th edition

Celebrating three full decades of discovering and cultivating the best entrepreneurial talent that South Africa has to offer, the highly esteemed Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS has announced the shortlist of 15 standout entrants who have made it through to the final round of this year’s competition.

According to Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2018 edition of the competition, the 189 entries that were received this year really upped the game in terms of entrepreneurial talent. “Every year, we think that we’ve seen it all, but each year we find ourselves being further blown away by the level of talent being exhibited by the South African entrepreneurs who enter the competition.”

In alphabetical order, the finalists for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS are:

Andrew and Glenn Eriksen – Cango Wildlife Ranch; Beverley Gumbi – Isivuno Containers Business; Chike and Damaris  Igwegbe – Green City Solutions, t/a Mustbuy; Christina Ester Geldart – Marven Studios; Esi-Gifty Agbohla – Eli-Bionatural International;  James Barrington-Bronwn – NewSpace Systems; Kerry and Craig Motherwell – Foxolution SE CC; Leboneng Mathebula – Gridbow Engineers; Louw Barnardt and Dana Pretorius – Outsourced CFO; Muhammed Simjee and Sofiah Docrat – A2D24 Dot Com; Pepe Marais and Gareth Leck – Joe Public; Phillipa Geard – Recruit My Mom; Praveshen Naidoo – e-Waste Africa; Terence Naidu – EnvisionIt Stock and Tshegofatso Samuel and Motlapele Molefi – Modi Mining.

These 15 finalists operate in various sectors of the economy and are based across the country, says Mjadu. “While the majority of these finalists originate from Gauteng (47%) and the Western Cape (33%), we received entries from all provinces and KwaZulu-Natal (13%) and the North West (7%) are both also represented in the finalist list this year.”

With a wide variety of industries being represented, from mining and engineering to recycling and advertising, there is one thing that Mjadu says all 15 finalists share in common – their invaluable contribution to the South African economy. “The SME sector continues to play a vital role in the South African economy, so these trail-blazing self-starters need to be celebrated for what they are – job creators and economic change-makers,” Mjadu adds.

She explains that the next step in the independent judging process is the selection of the overall 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® winner, as well as winners for each of the five categories, namely emerging, small business, medium business, job creator and innovator. “By running the evaluation process through three different filtering stages, we are able to ensure that every finalist is put under the microscope to avoid any human error or bias from tainting the results.”

The 2018 finalists stand the chance to win prizes worth R2 million, which include cash prizes of R70 000 per category and R200 000 for the overall winner. “Beyond monetary prices, previous finalists have benefitted greatly from the various networking opportunities and associated media exposure that the competition offers. Past winners have also gone on to win international awards and form valuable partnerships as a result of their success in the competition.”

With competition winners being announced on 5 September 2018 at the official awards breakfast in Johannesburg, Mjadu says that the judges have got their work cut out for them this year. “The calibre of entrants this year looks to be extremely high so deciding on winners will be no easy feat. We wish all finalists the best of luck – you’re all already winners in our eyes,” concludes Mjadu.

Past winner catch-up: where are they now?

2018 marks our 30th year in honouring entrepreneurs and the contributions they make toward growing the South African economy. We’re celebrating by catching up with some of the past winners of the competition.

It’s been almost 3 years since you won the Entrepreneur of the Year® title in 2015, how has business been since then?

It has been an incredibly interesting time to be in business. It was an amazing coincidence that the Entrepreneur of the Year® awards were announced on the morning of 2 September 2015, and it so happened that later that day, we finalised the sale of our business to the Publicis Groupe – the 3rd largest communications group globally.

We have, however, remained in the business since the sale and we now consult to the business as a whole.

We have also each started different initiatives since then. I am currently working on my 4th start-up – a private equity company called LLH Capital, investing in businesses that are transforming and digitising the African continent.

Have you made any new developments within your business since winning?

The communications industry as a whole has experienced a lot of changes. There have been market entries of new services and technology. To keep up and ensure that we were always able to meet our clients’ needs, we developed OBI – a software programme and system for managing people on the ground. OBI helps businesses to gamify what they do and helps staff track their own performance against that of their peers. We are very proud of OBI, what it does for our staff and in turn, what it can do for our clients.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt from your time in the EOY competition?

Before EOY, we didn’t focus too much on our own brand building or competitions. We thought that people would find out about us if they needed to.  When we entered the competition, we quickly discovered that there was a whole new world waiting for us. Winning was a game-changer and completely shifted our perceptions.

After winning, we received so much recognition and respect from clients, suppliers, and staff. We realised we were actually a force to be reckoned with, not just a small company – something which is very important, but equally something we, as entrepreneurs, tend to struggle with.

The biggest lesson for us was that you need to get your name out there and seek some recognition.

What would your top piece of advice be for anyone looking to enter this year’s competition?

It is important to understand why you deserve the award. Perhaps some advice to this year’s entrants would be to look inwardly and 1) how you contribute to the economy? 2) what you stand for? 3) how have you improved unemployment rate in your community and have you changed people’s lives? 4) how have you contributed to the social fabric of society? What are you proud of?

If you can answer these questions with integrity, then you have a good chance in the competition.

Any last thoughts?

Winning the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition has improved my personal journey as an entrepreneur and definitely our business trajectory. I am still so inspired to do more.

Life after being named a 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® winner

Not only do entrepreneurial awards offer winning businesses a cash injection, but they are also a great platform to raise a business’ profile – which can often prove to be more valuable than the cash prize! An awards platform not only offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to expand their current network and receive expert analysis of their business and its process, but they also generate wide-reaching media exposure.

One month since the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® awards ceremony – which saw some of South Africa’s top entrepreneurs converging in one room for a morning of celebration and networking – we caught up with some of the winners to hear first-hand how the competition, and being a named a winner, has impacted their business.

Willem van der Merwe, owner of Africa Biomass Company: 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year®

“It has been a whirlwind since receiving the title of 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® and winning has certainly elevated the public’s awareness of our company to another level. Not only have we received recognition for our work like never before, but it has also helped us to really demonstrate the value we bring to our industry.

“We have also been well-pleased with the media exposure our brand has secured since winning: the feedback we have received from clients and stakeholders, is in many ways more than double what we are accustomed to. While it is still early, we expect that the continued exposure will help us in reaching the goals we’ve set for the next level in our business. We’ll definitely consider entering again in the future!”

Read more about Willem’s business and why he was selected as the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® here.

Siraaj Adams and Sizwe Nzima, co-owners of Iyeza Health: 2017 Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®

“We have been overjoyed since our win – both with the experience, as well as with the attention we have received post the awards ceremony. Many of our clients and stakeholders have been most impressed with the accolade and have been very complimentary – which we really value.

“We have also received fantastic media coverage and increased brand awareness – our LinkedIn profile alone has received over 2000 profile views in just one month! We will definitely enter the competition again in the near future with the goal to take our win from the Emerging Business category to the overall title of Entrepreneur of the Year®!”

Read more about Sizwe and Siraaj’s business and why they were selected as the 2017 Emerging Business Entrepreneurs of the Year®here.

Siphiwe Ncgobo, founder of iLawu Hospitality Group: Job Creator of the Year®

“Winning the Job Creator of the Year® title was both a surprise and huge honour for us. We are extremely proud of this accolade as we have always believed that the strength of our success is purely based on the dedication, commitment and sacrifices of our past and current staff members.

“We feel very fortunate to have participated in this competition which gave us the opportunity for some much needed introspection into our operations and we really valued the fair and constructive feedback from the judges.

“Without a doubt, the media exposure we have received has positively impacted our business, and we are dedicated to working even harder to make sure that our current and prospective clients’ expectations are met. We have a lot to work on in our business and have already set ourselves a few goals to achieve within the next three to five years.”

Read more about Siphiwe’s business and why he was selected as the 2017 Job Creator of the Year® here.

Considering entering the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition – watch this space for more details. Entries will open early 2018.

Balancing work-life responsibilities as an entrepreneur

Growing a business has often been equated to raising a child – a 24/7 role involving countless sleepless nights and never-ending concerns about the business’ future success. While a work-life balance is always strived for by entrepreneurs, the increasing consumer, economic and societal pressures means finding this desired balance is becoming even more difficult to achieve.

Increasingly people are working harder and longer, especially small business owners, to keep up with demands and to make ends meet – both at home and in the workplace. But while entrepreneurs may believe that more work hours, equals greater success, this isn’t always the case, and rather than this having a positive outcome and generating increased input from the extra work hours, this could have the opposite intended effect.

It is therefore not surprising that with these increased pressures and a skewed focus towards work that stress levels are on the rise. While high-stress levels are not uncommon and often unavoidable component of an entrepreneur’s day, week and month, elevated levels of stress due to increased pressures and a skewed focus towards work can lead to long-lasting negative effects, on both the entrepreneur, their family, business and broader network.

During Mental Illness Awareness Month last month, it was widely reported that increased and unmanaged levels of stress is a leading contributor to a number of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Furthermore – highlighting the consequences of an unbalanced work-life relationship – recent figures by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reported that 74% of South African workers reported reduced concentration and a loss of productivity due to depression.

Business owners, therefore, need to be cognisant of the role that a healthy work-life balance can play in promoting good personal and business health.

How do our 2017 finalists and winners manage the daily struggle of balance?

Willem van der Merwe, owner of Africa Biomass Company (ABC) and 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year®:

“One of greatest challenges in running your own business is balancing the various aspects of your life, but I found that by involving my family in my business from early on helped them understand the demands and pressures placed upon me as my own boss. My family is my number one priority and having their full understanding and support is vital. No family support equals no business in my mind.

“Deciding whether family or business success is any more important than the other, and making a firm decision in this regard will you help you manage your environment accordingly and enable you to achieve your desired outcome and ultimately, your desired balance.”

Joe Hamman, owner and founder of Novus Group (Pty) Ltd and 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist.

“I don’t believe that I have perfected the balance yet myself, but I do commit to a routine of leaving the office at 6pm daily and not doing any work once I get home so that I can be 100% present with my family in the evenings. I do however wake up at 2am to catch up on any work while my family is sleeping.”

Siphiwe Ngcobo, founder of iLawu Hospitality Group and 2017 Job Creator of the Year®.

“To minimise work pressures, entrepreneurs – especially those in the start-up phase – should look to create trackable systems to monitor and track the business’ operations. When I started my business, managing a work-life balance was incredibly difficult, and it had a negative effect on my personal relationships. I’ve since learnt the benefit of implementing effective systems throughout my business which has meant that I don’t have to be physically present for each process. As a result, I now also have a team of qualified and capable staff who are able to take tasks off my hands.”

South Africa’s leading entrepreneur of 2017 revealed

Creating, growing and innovating a business to such a degree that a new market and industry is created is no easy feat and demonstrates many qualities of a remarkable entrepreneur.  It is thereby no surprise that Willem van der Merwe, of Africa Biomass Company (ABC) has been named this year’s overall winner in the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, as announced at the awards ceremony held in Johannesburg on 6 September 2017.

Not only did van der Merwe capitalise on a gap in a market, he also innovated in such a way that he was able to earn additional revenue for a service he was originally being paid for.

ABC are the country’s leading experts in land clearing, wood chipping, and wood recycling. The business revolves around the novel concept of grinding up unwanted trees on site, with the use of wood chipper machines, in order to create biomass – a renewable source of fuel to produce energy. This biomass is then either sold back to the site owner or onto a secondary market, thereby essentially generating value from waste wood.

This resourcefulness stood out to the judging panel. “Willem is supplying an excellent service – that of removing unwanted trees – however, he has taken this idea one step further by creating something useful out of these trees. He is therefore not only getting paid to supply a removal service, but is also able to capitalise on that service by reselling what he has removed. This is true entrepreneurship.”

What further set van der Merwe apart from other finalists is that the existence and success of ABC are based solely on innovation, remarked one of the competition judges. After studying what was being done in other, more developed countries, van der Merwe introduced the idea of wood recycling to South Africa, starting it from scratch and essentially creating a brand new industry. Having patented and built over five machines designed specifically for wood waste, ABC remains the only company in South Africa that specialises in this service.

On being named this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year®, van der Merwe says that he is both humbled by and grateful for the opportunity. “It is always so great to learn from other entrepreneurs, so to have the opportunity to network with others in a similar position to our business has been a wonderful experience.”

For more information on Africa Biomass Company, please visit: www.chipper.co.za

Trailblazing health logistics duo awarded emerging Entrepreneur of the Year® title

Entrepreneurial duoSizwe Nzima and Siraaj Adams, owners of Iyeza Health, walked away as the winners of the 2017 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year® title at the annual Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS awards ceremony, held in Johannesburg on 6 September 2017.

Iyeza Health – which started in 2013 as a bicycle courier service delivering chronic medication from health clinics in Khayelitsha to just one client, Sizwe’s grandmother – quickly grew into a fully-fledged specialist health logistics company directly servicing 1 000 patients in the same area.

Following this successful expansion, the business further diversified and today their clientele also includes the private sector, having secured contracts with medical aid companies. This growth has enabled Iyeza Health to further link their logistics services with doctors, clinics and hospitals, as well as patients.

Apart from growing their customer base, Sizwe and Siraaj have also evolved their business model to include digital healthcare software and medical devices to assist people with diagnostic self-testing at home and, in doing so, have provided a convenient channel for proactive and preventative screening and care.

This software includes the Iyeza Health web-based platform, HIV Self Testing (hivselftesting.co.za) which enables customers to utilise the business’ services, such as ordering HIV self-testing kits, thereby offering accessible alternatives to the current status quo in the pharmaceutical distribution and supply chain.

Due to the duo’s hard work, innovation and dedication, this web-based platform is now the leading e-commerce platform for HIV self-testing in South Africa, with over 3000 kits being distributed per month. In addition to this, their website platform has also been adopted by the National Department of Health.

In addition, there is also a unique, integrated medical aid claim functionality built into the platform for customer convenience and once an order has been placed for a medical device, Iyeza Health is able to distribute the order nationally within two working days.

The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition judging panel was particularly impressed with the fact that Iyeza Health has not only contributed to solving a challenge within the health department, but that they are also providing a necessary service to the country. “Government pharmacies and hospitals are struggling to keep up with public demand, so what Iyeza Health has achieved in such a short period is already promoting social change within South Africa,” said the judges.

In response to the judge’s accolades, the emerging entrepreneurs say they remain committed to changing the face of public health in South Africa and intend to continue developing useful clinical mobile applications in order to improve health management in underprivileged communities.

For more information on Sizwe and Siraaj’s business, please visit the Iyeza Health website: www.iyezahealth.co.za.

Entrepreneurs to take a step back if they are to succeed

Entrepreneurs can become so immersed in their businesses that they no longer ‘see the wood from the trees’, and that the way in which they are currently operating their business, could be the downfall of their success. 

This is according to Kobus Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, who says that all entrepreneurs, regardless of their business cycle or success, can benefit from an outsider reviewing their business and its processes.

“A business mentor is one of the most valuable resources for any entrepreneur and business owner, yet is often the most underutilized,” says Engelbrecht.

A study1 conducted in the United States – which surveyed small business owners on the importance of mentoring – showed that of the business owners who use a mentor, 88% find their service invaluable. Furthermore, 70% of small businesses that make use of a business mentor, survive more than five years, which is double the rate of those that don’t use a business mentor.

In South Africa – where the rate of new businesses closing within five years of operation remains high – entrepreneurs should actively be seeking the advice of business mentors, says Engelbrecht.

“An external business professional, coach or mentor takes an outsider’s look into a business and critically reviews all elements of the business, and analyses where improvements can be made to maximise success. This process forces an entrepreneur to be honest about their business idea / concept and its current success, as too often, entrepreneurs become too involved in their business and lose perspective.”

Apart from using the services of a mentor – which can come at a fee depending on the agreement – there are other free avenues to explore that can force an entrepreneur to sit back and reflect on the current success of their business and its processes.

“A business competition is one platform to explore,” says Engelbrecht, “as often the judging panels include well-respected, established business professionals, who on a daily basis, engage with local businesses and the environment within which they operate.” He points to the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition as an example of what entrepreneurs can expect to take away when entering such a platform.

“During the judging process for the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, the judges look at every aspect of the business – from its business strategy, manufacturing processes, marketing and sales plans, to its financial statements – to obtain a holistic view of how the business is running.

“The judges pose questions to the finalist entrepreneurs about their business. The line of questioning often prompts the entrepreneur to critically look at certain aspects of their business, and rethink certain processes within their business.”

2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® and MD of Agricon, Johan Eksteen, who also won the 2014 Small Business of the Year® category, explains that the feedback obtained during the judging process in 2014 enabled him to strengthen aspects within his business that he had overlooked, which ultimately aided him in strengthening his business, and clinching the overall title in 2016.

From his experience, Eksteen says the criteria for the judges was to decipher how entrepreneurial the business owner is in terms of how unique the product or service was, as well as the business model. “It’s important to see how my business is distinguished from the other businesses that entered. Being able to test my business against other entrepreneurs in South Africa was a great learning curve for me.”

Engelbrecht stresses that although entrepreneurial competitions are a good way for business owners to start the review process, accessing the services of a mentor is strongly advisable to conduct a regular, in-depth review of their business’ overall strategy. “Not only will a mentor guarantee that no stone is left unturned in the business, thereby eliminating oversight in potentially important areas, but a mentor will also hold the entrepreneur accountable for the business’ goals – both short and long-term – thereby ensuring the business continues to thrive and grow, ” concludes Engelbrecht.

Entrepreneurs to take a step back if they are to succeed

Entrepreneurs can become so immersed in their businesses that they no longer ‘see the wood from the trees’, and that the way in which they are currently operating their business, could be the downfall of their success.

This is according to Kobus Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, who says that all entrepreneurs, regardless of their business cycle or success, can benefit from an outsider reviewing their business and its processes.

“A business mentor is one of the most valuable resources for any entrepreneur and business owner, yet is often the most underutilised,” says Engelbrecht.

A study conducted in the United States – which surveyed small business owners on the importance of mentoring – showed that of the business owners who use a mentor, 88% find their service invaluable. Furthermore, 70% of small businesses that make use of a business mentor, survive more than five years, which is double the rate of those that don’t use a business mentor.

In South Africa – where the rate of new businesses closing within five years of operation remains high – entrepreneurs should actively be seeking the advice of business mentors, says Engelbrecht.

“An external business professional, coach or mentor takes an outsider’s look into a business and critically reviews all elements of the business, and analyses where improvements can be made to maximise success. This process forces an entrepreneur to be honest about their business idea/concept and its current success, as too often, entrepreneurs become too involved in their business and lose perspective.”

Apart from using the services of a mentor – which can come at a fee depending on the agreement – there are other free avenues to explore that can force an entrepreneur to sit back and reflect on the current success of their business and its processes.

“A business competition is one platform to explore,” says Engelbrecht, “as often the judging panels include well-respected, established business professionals, who on a daily basis, engage with local businesses and the environment within which they operate.” He points to the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition as an example of what entrepreneurs can expect to take away when entering such a platform.

“During the judging process for the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, the judges look at every aspect of the business – from its business strategy, manufacturing processes, marketing and sales plans, to its financial statements – to obtain a holistic view of how the business is running.

“The judges pose questions to the finalist entrepreneurs about their business. The line of questioning often prompts the entrepreneur to critically look at certain aspects of their business, and rethink certain processes within their business.”

2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® and MD of Agricon, Johan Eksteen, who also won the 2014 Small Business of the Year® category, explains that the feedback obtained during the judging process in 2014 enabled him to strengthen aspects within his business that he had overlooked, which ultimately aided him in strengthening his business, and clinching the overall title in 2016.

From his experience, Eksteen says the criteria for the judges was to decipher how entrepreneurial the business owner is in terms of how unique the product or service was, as well as the business model. “It’s important to see how my business is distinguished from the other businesses that entered. Being able to test my business against other entrepreneurs in South Africa was a great learning curve for me.”

Engelbrecht stresses that although entrepreneurial competitions are a good way for business owners to start the review process, accessing the services of a mentor is strongly advisable to conduct a regular, in-depth review of their business’ overall strategy. “Not only will a mentor guarantee that no stone is left unturned in the business, thereby eliminating oversight in potentially important areas, but a mentor will also hold the entrepreneur accountable for the business’ goals – both short and long-term – thereby ensuring the business continues to thrive and grow, ” concludes Engelbrecht.

2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition now open for entries

The instrumental value that entrepreneurs add to the South African economy is undisputable – they are an important cog in the creation of the much needed jobs in the country. It is therefore encouraging that the challenges and obstacles which impede this valuable sector are receiving some much-needed attention from both the public and private sectors – with the inclusion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and National Budget Speech – beckoning for a more focused approach to entrepreneurial development in the country.

This is according to Ben Bierman, Managing Director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who was speaking at the launch of the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, in Johannesburg today.

He adds that just as important as government’s efforts of building an inclusive, supportive and thriving entrepreneurial eco system, is the need for society to encourage and support entrepreneurs in starting and growing businesses which positively contribute towards the country’s growth. “We need to be creating more platforms that stimulate and support entrepreneurship, we should work to promote and celebrate the successes of entrepreneurs – those individuals that tirelessly, often without recognition, contribute to growing the local GDP and improving employment figures.”

Celebrating its 29th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS competition seeks to promote entrepreneurship in South Africa as a viable career path, by honouring dedicated entrepreneurs who have made great strides in their businesses and whose passion for growing their businesses and communities inspires and stimulates the nation.

Also speaking at the competition launch was esteemed entrepreneur, Sisa Ngebulana, CEO of Rebosis and Billion Group who spoke about his entrepreneurial journey including listing Rebosis on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in 2011 for R3, 6 billion.

Bierman adds that as 73% of the country’s adult population sees entrepreneurship as a good career choice (2017 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report), industry leaders should be leveraging this to drive entrepreneurial participation in South Africa. “If we can create more entrepreneurs as a country, we can boost the economy which then in turn has various positive knock-on effects, such as creating jobs, introducing innovation and having a larger tax pool to fund all the key government projects including educating our young people.”

The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, is a platform to reward and acknowledge the ongoing hard work of these entrepreneurs. With five categories, entrepreneurs from emerging to small and medium businesses can enter.

Prizes valued at over R 2 million can be won, which include cash prizes of R60 000 for each main category winner, and R160 000 for the overall winner. Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.

“Entrepreneurship can be a lonely endeavour, but also one of the most rewarding. Through the competition, we want to share the successes of these inspirational individuals who are making a difference, as well as create an environment in which entrepreneurs can engage, network and learn from each other.”

Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can download entry forms online at www.eoy.co.za as well as interact with fellow entrepreneurs and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms www.twitter.com/@EOY_SA and www.facebook.com/EOY.SA. The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2017.

Local entrepreneurs ‘wish-list’ for the 2017 Budget Speech

As South Africa gears up for the 2017 National Budget Speech in anticipation for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to deliver Government’s expenditure and focus areas for the year ahead, we sat down with a few of the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition winners to obtain their expectations for the upcoming speech.

Michael Roberts, MD of Khonology and 2016 Job Creator of the Year:

“The budget speech has a direct impact on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as the outcomes and policy decisions will dictate yearly strategies and the ability to manage a business’ risks and position it for further growth. The policy outcomes will also determine the tax impact on payrolls and company liabilities.

“I hope that policies introduced this year will reward companies for taking on additional capital to accommodate the growth of businesses within South Africa.”

Meisie Nkosi, Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year and MD of Bella Bonni:

“I hope to see revolving funds for SMEs with less red tape, an improvement on infrastructure development in energy, roads and water, as well as a tax break for SMEs.

“The Budget Speech can assist a business with future planning and help predict whether the business can expand or not. For instance, key outcomes around issues such as tax and processes to minimise red tape, can have a direct impact on the bottom line of a small business, and in turn, its growth and survival.”

Johan Eksteen, MD of Agricon and overall Entrepreneur of the Year winner:

“I hope to see tax relief for small businesses, incentives and support to increase exports and plans to promote production in order to create more jobs in South Africa. But ultimately, local entrepreneurs need to focus on the positive outcomes of the speech in order to pin point where the opportunities lie.”

Budgeting 101: How should entrepreneurs prepare their 2017 budgets?

Michael Roberts:

“Firstly, business owners should manage their cash flow effectively and address cost containment in line with cash flow ability. Secondly, business owners need to work with capital correctly as it is the growth enabler needed within a business.”

Meisie Nkosi:

“Business owners should be aware of the risks within their business, as well as budget slightly above anticipated costs to cover unforeseen spending. Budget planning should also be revisited regularly.”

Johan Eksteen:

“Know your business’ figures as this will ultimately allow you to effectively measure its performance and set goals for the year ahead.”