Looking at business success amid a drought

The Western Cape has over the recent past been hard hit by the severe drought in the region which has had direct, severe consequences on local businesses. Strict level 4B water restrictions have been implemented area-wide, and residents and businesses alike have been forced to curb water usage to 87 litres per person, per day. For many local businesses, this has demanded an immediate adaptation to regular operations.

Kobus Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, says that although the situation in the Cape is concerning for both consumers and businesses, entrepreneurs are renowned to use their resilient nature and adapt in order to survive setbacks such as these. 

To illustrate this, some of 2016’s competition finalists and winners shared their advice for fellow entrepreneurs on how to survive and grow a business during drought-stricken times:

“Although the drought certainly had a big effect on our local sales in the Western Cape, we were able to counter this through our export and Gauteng markets,” says Carl Pretorius, managing director of Just Trees, a wholesale tree nursery, and 2016 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®. “Due to this leaner period however, we were forced to adapt our regular staff working hours to shorter work-weeks (four days instead of five) to allow all staff members to remain employed and ensure no retrenchments were necessary,” he adds.

Gali Gaon Segall, Director of Yemaya Group and 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist, says that her business has been fortunate to not be too badly affected by increased water restrictions. She does however recognise the importance of communicating the business’ efforts to save and conserve water: “Even though we have reduced our water consumption by replacing water-reliant treatments with others that are more water-sensitive, it is important that our clients and customers are visibly made aware of this – and we have found that in so-doing, our clients have remained loyal and happy to support our business,” says Segall. “In our spa’s and hair salons, we have trained staff to be conscious of their consumption – and because of all these efforts, our financial bottom line has not suffered.”

Also recognising the importance of positively contributing to the conservation of the previous resource, Nerina Smith, owner of Smithland Guest Apartments and 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist, says that her business took the decision to implement as many recycling initiatives as possible in order to mitigate their impact on the City’s water supply. “We installed a few water tanks to catch rain water, as well as grey water from our washing machines. We have used this recycling system to water our gardens, as well as for washing and cleaning wherever possible” says Smith.

She explains that from their successful rain-water harvesting and recycling process, the business was also able to assist a car wash business in the neighbourhood, who had been issued with notice to close the business if they could not find the means to use recycled water. Smithland Guest Apartments now donates its excess recycled water to this business – and has therefore prevented four community members from losing their stable income.

Engelbrecht says that as the drought in the Western Cape is still without an end in sight, it is imperative for all businesses, no matter the size, to band together in order to innovate ways to minimise the impact that these harsh conditions can have on a business.

“It is more than possible for small and medium sized businesses to survive and thrive, even under such strained trading and operating conditions – all it takes is a little perseverance and creative thinking,” concludes Engelbrecht.

15 finalists named for the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition

Following a fiercely competitive preliminary round of the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/ Partners, a shortlist of 15 standout entrants has made it through to the final round of the competition, with the ultimate winners to be announced in September.

We are thrilled to announce that we received 213 entries this year – one of the highest number of entries recorded to date and a steep increase of 40% when comparing the number of entries received for the 2015 competition. We also saw a jump in the number of female entries and we are delighted at the consistent growth in the number of entries from female entrepreneurs which reached a new high growing to more than 38% of the total participant pool, up from 29% of entries in 2015.

This increase in entries is testament to the thriving level of entrepreneurial talent and success present in the country. We would like to congratulate and commend all entrants, as these are the individuals who bring about positive change and fuel job growth – helping the South African economy and communities to grow.

The finalists, in no specific order, are:

Carl and Peter Pretorius – Just Trees

Carl and Peter Pretorius, based in Noorder Paarl, are the entrepreneurs behind Just Trees – a wholesale tree nursery that supplies specimen container grown trees to the trade throughout South Africa.

Dillon Jearey – Kilowatt Audio Visual Pty Ltd

So much more than your ordinary tech supply company, Kilowatt AV is a high-end audio visual equipment specialist company in Cape Town, founded by finalist Dillon Jearey.

Michael Roberts – Robhur Management T/A Future Talent

The Future Talent training course is an innovative platform created by Michael Roberts from Gauteng, on which critical financial and life-skills are taught and practiced.

Barry Nigel Gould – CAPCO

Established in 1989 by finalist Barry Gould, CAPCO is a stockist and manufacturer of ceiling and partition systems and components.

Cara Nortman – SSQ Exhibitions

Gauteng-based Cara Nortman began SSQ Exhibitions, a design and project management agency that specialises in targeted brand experiences such as exhibition stands, mall displays, sets, roadshows, activations and permanent interiors.

Nerina Smith – Smithland Guest Apartments

Nerina Smith, owner of Smithland, saw a need in Cape Town for self-catering accommodation and took the initiative in 1992. Over the years Smithland Guest Apartments has grown into a successful business with 24 units of which she owns 14, managing the others on behalf of property investors.

Johan Eksteen – Pelleting Machinery T/A Agricon

Based in Bloemfontein, Johan Eksteen’s company, Agricon, specialises in the design and manufacture of pelleting solutions for the agricultural industry. Johan is also a reigning competition title holder having clinched the Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® title in 2014.

Mishje Cooper – ZooZoo Land Daycare

Mother of two, Mishje Cooper is the founder of educare business, ZooZoo Land Daycare – providing a nurtured environment where children can build a foundation for continued learning.

Gali Gaon Segall – Yemaya Group

Gali Gaon Segall is the entrepreneur behind the successful beauty and wellness services company, Yemaya Group, based in Cape Town.

Meisie Nkosi – Scarper Traders T/A Bella Bonni Guest House

Bella Bonni Guest House – situated in Witbank, Mpumalanga and founded by finalist Meisie Nkosi – is a 100% black woman owned establishment that offers luxury, business-like accommodation in a modern, contemporary design.

Lucas Frederick Van Wyk – Advance Fenestration

Based in Gauteng, Lucas Frederick’s business, Advance Fenestration, specialises in the design and manufacture of architectural aluminium systems for the local and export market.

Stacey Brewer – Spark Schools T/A eAdvance

Stacey Brewer’s company is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of education innovation – from pioneering blended learning to reimagining high expectations, eAdvance is empowering teachers and inspiring families.

Corrie Van Der Wath and Nelisiwe Magubane – Matleng Energy Solutions

Matleng Energy Solutions is a South African black woman owned company led by Nelisiwe Magubane, in association with Corrie van der Wath, that strives to solve clients’ energy related challenges through the effective implementation of new and/or existing technologies.

Chanette Goosen – Rush Extreme Sports

Chanette Gooden is the founder of Rush Extreme Sports, an indoor extreme Trampoline Park situated in Cape Town with 1500-2500 square meters of adventure, excitement, fun and challenges.

Vanessa Jacobs – Sow Delicious

Western Cape-based Vanessa Jacobs is the woman behind the innovative edible gardening store, Sow Delicious, which specialises in heirloom seed and garden gadgets.

The 15 finalists operate in various sectors throughout South Africa, with the majority originating from the Western Cape (47%) and Gauteng (33%), and include a strong representation from the manufacturing and services sectors. Given the manufacturing sector is vital to job-creation, it is always encouraging to see driven entrepreneurs occupying this space, as unemployment in South Africa continues to be a major challenge.

The services sector with entrants operating in the health, beauty, education and training industries was also well represented this year, following by entrants in the hospitality industry.

The next step in the judging process is the selection of the overall 2016 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. The judging process is completely independent, and the evaluation process runs through three different filtering stages, which ensures that everything is checked multiple times to remove any human error or preference which may have otherwise crept in.

The 2016 finalists stand the chance to win prizes worth R2 million, which include cash prizes to the value of R425 000. 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.

Winners will be announced on 1 September 2016 at the official awards breakfast in Johannesburg.

We eagerly await the final stages of this year’s competition and wish all the finalists the best of luck!