2014’s top SA entrepreneur identified


South Africa’s premier annual entrepreneurial competition, Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year®, has named Adri Kruger, owner of Tzaneen Country Lodge, as this year’s overall competition winner at an awards ceremony held in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 03 September 2014.

In a field of 14 finalists, Kruger stood out from the rest due to the remarkable flair she has for business and the resilience that her business displays in the current economic climate. The entrepreneurial and innovative qualities Kruger displays have resulted in a prosperous business operating within a sometimes challenging industry. It is with sheer determination and a relentless focus Kruger and her team have created a winning business.

According to Kobus Engelbrecht, a member of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® judging panel, Kruger’s drive and passion for the business, coupled with her caring attitude towards the community in which the business operates in, is what contributed towards her success in the competition.

Tzaneen Country Lodge, a four star country style hotel situated on a 170 hectare working mango farm just outside Tzaneen in the Limpopo Province, was started by Kruger in 2000 when it was just a dilapidated old farmstead. Together with her husband, Kruger managed to successfully develop the dwelling into the successful, fully serviced 60 bedroom hotel and large conference venue it is today.

She says that winning this accolade validates all the hard work, perseverance, determination, passion and the sacrifices that she has made along her entrepreneurial journey. “It also underwrites the belief I have in myself and in my staff at the hotel. However, above all, I believe that it will serve as an inspiration to all women, especially those coming from a relatively poor background with limited opportunities. I am a firm believer that anything is possible if you focus your mind and energy on a goal.”

Kruger seeks opportunities to create jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities and hope in communities where tourism is a lifeline for many. “We are committed to upskilling staff and supporting community members, and do so through training and product development, purchasing from local, small businesses and our various employment equity programmes.”

Tzaneen Country Lodge was started with four staff members in 2000, and has since grown to a complement of 58 permanent and 10 temporary staff members. Together with maintenance, gardens and farm employees, the business employs a total of 215 staff members. Kruger believes that the core of the hotel’s success is the quality and dedication of the staff. “An example of this is an employee, Mr. Isaac Selowa, previously a roadside hawker, who is now a successful Senior Restaurant Manager at the hotel’s a la carte restaurant, Feathers.”

Engelbrecht says that Kruger has been successful due to the way in which she has adapted her business model to the environment in which she operates. “The business has demonstrated innovativeness in how it has expanded, and by doing so has managed to attract a different market from the one’s originally serviced. The judging panel was also impressed with the way in which Kruger meaningfully engages her employees in order to create opportunities for growth and development in a rural area.”

Since its inception both Kruger and the hotel have been recognised by various industry bodies and have won several awards. In 2013, the hotel was named the Small Business Enterprise of the Year by the AHI, and also received the Best Responsible Tourism Award by SATOA, a leading international professional non-profit travel and tourism association. The SATOA award paid tribute to the years of dedication to green and responsible tourism practices which is central to the Tzaneen Country Lodge culture.

For further information on Tzaneen Country Lodge, please visit www.tznlodge.co.za