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.

SA’s leading entrepreneurial competition now open for entries

We are excited to announce the launch of the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS!

Now in its 28th year, this renowned competition pays homage to courageous South African entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to their enterprises / businesses driving growth, creating much needed jobs and contributing towards economic development in the country.

The contribution of local entrepreneurs to the South African economy is widely underestimated: small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contribute close to 50% of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) and generate more than 60% of new jobs created in the economy.

While the country has recently experienced tough economic conditions that may not necessarily enable SMEs to grow, opportunities do exist for those entrepreneurs who continue to identify gaps in the market and transform these into viable businesses. We need to make a concerted effort to recognise and honour these entrepreneurs who continue to inspire others to venture into the world of business.

Last year’s competition winners are examples of those who have succeeded in their industry and possess true entrepreneurial spirit – persevering no matter how impossible it may seem at times.

The 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year® overall competition winners, Gil Oved and Ran Neu-Ner, co-owners and founders of The Creative Counsel (TCC), were recently awarded the All Africa Business Leaders Award (AABLA), which recognises game changers on the continent. They were also acquired last year by French advertising giant, Publicis, in a deal understood to be the biggest in South African agency history. Most importantly, this year TCC launched an incubator programme for black-owned businesses as a way to inspire and grow the next generation of entrepreneurs.

2015 Innovator of the Year and Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® title winners, Nadir Khamissa & Ahmed Shaazim Khamissa – owners and founders of Hello Group – were also recognised by the EY Southern Africa World Entrepreneur awards platform due to their remarkable tenacity and determination in building a leading business in the local fintech space.

Why do we run this competition? Let’s look at the statistics…

The average level of employment generated per entrepreneur is very low, with only 4.5% of South African entrepreneurs offering employment to 20 or more employees. However, the positive impact that entrepreneurs can have on job creation is huge (as illustrated above), and in order to activate this potential, SMEs need more support and acknowledgement.

This is supported by the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2015 / 2016 Global Report which states that while, on average, 42% of working-age adults in the monitored economies see good entrepreneurial opportunities in their markets, as many as one-third of potential entrepreneurs are constrained from starting a business due to the fear of failure.

This reveals that South Africa needs to pro-actively address this fear of failure by creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem that celebrates entrepreneurs’ hard work and achievements. An environment where entrepreneurship is promoted as an aspirational career path and viable employment option, rather than a back-up plan to unemployment.

With this competition, we want to celebrate and promote excellence in entrepreneurship. When SMEs are established and grow, new employment opportunities are created, staff is trained and skills are developed, company profits increase and ultimately the economy flourishes as a result.

Why should entrepreneurs enter?

The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, is a platform to reward and acknowledge entrepreneurs’ hard work. Prizes valued at R 2 million can be won, which includes cash prizes of R425 000. Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.

What are the categories?

  • Emerging Entrepreneur
  • Small Business Entrepreneur
  • Medium Business Entrepreneur
  • Job Creator of the Year
  • Innovator of the Year

There are also two additional Entrepreneur of the Year® award categories that can be awarded at the discretion of the judging panel, namely:

  • Lifetime Achiever
  • Judges Prize

Please see more on each of the categories’ requirements here.

What are the judges looking for?

The competition will continue its search for entrepreneurial talent in all sectors of the economy. The judges are looking for entrepreneurs that have succeeded against the odds, either by carving out a niche market for the product or service offering, or by succeeding in a very competitive environment. Perseverance and endurance, innovation and agility are some of the qualities we look for in the entrepreneur.

There are also a number of quantitative competition measures, such as turnover growth, profitability, owners’ equity growth, positive cash flows and job creation that play a part in the competition’s judging process.

How can you enter?

Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can download entry forms online at http://www.eoy.co.za/entry-form/ 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 National Youth Day, 16 June 2016.

SA’s leading entrepreneurial competition now open for entries

The contribution of local entrepreneurs to the South African economy is generally underestimated. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contribute close to 50% of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) and generate more than 60% of new jobs created in the economy. This is according to Ben Bierman, chief financial officer at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who was speaking at the launch of the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, in Johannesburg today.

Now in its 28th year, this renowned competition pays homage to courageous South African entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to their enterprises / businesses driving growth, creating much needed jobs and contributing towards economic development in the country.

The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2015 / 2016 Global Report states that while on average, 42% of working-age adults in the monitored economies see good entrepreneurial opportunities in their markets, as many as one-third of potential entrepreneurs are constrained from starting a business due to the fear of failure.

Speaking at the event, Bierman says that South Africa needs to pro-actively address this fear of failure by creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem that provides support and business finance and celebrates entrepreneurs’ hard work and achievements. “When SMEs are established and grow, new employment opportunities are created, staff is trained and skills are developed, company profits increase and ultimately the economy flourishes as a result.”

Bierman says that while South Africa has recently experienced tough economic conditions that may not necessarily enable SMEs to grow, opportunities do exist for those entrepreneurs who continue to identify gaps in the market and transform these into viable businesses. “We need to make a concerted effort to recognise and honour these entrepreneurs who continue to inspire others to venture into the world of business.”

He points to last year’s competition winners as examples of those succeeding in their industry and possessing true entrepreneurial spirit – persevering no matter how impossible it may seem at times.

“The 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year® overall competition winners, Gil Oved and Ran Neu-Ner, co-owners and founders of The Creative Counsel (TCC), were recently awarded the All Africa Business Leaders Award (AABLA), which recognises game changers on the continent. They were also acquired last year by French advertising giant, Publicis, in a deal understood to be the biggest in South African agency history. Most importantly, this year TCC launched an incubator programme for black-owned businesses as a way to inspire and grow the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“Our 2015 Innovator of the Year® and Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® title winners, Nadir Khamissa & Ahmed Shaazim Khamissa – owners and founders of Hello Group – were also recognised by the EY Southern Africa World Entrepreneur awards platform due to their remarkable tenacity and determination in building a leading business in the local fintech space.”

The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, is a platform to reward and acknowledge these entrepreneurs’ hard work. Prizes valued at R 2 million can be won, which includes cash prizes of R425 000. Competition winners will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure.

Bierman says that in 2016 the competition continues its search for entrepreneurial talent in all sectors of the economy. “The judges are looking for entrepreneurs that have succeeded against the odds, either by carving out a niche market for the product or service offering, or by succeeding in a very competitive environment. Perseverance and endurance, innovation and agility are some of the qualities we look for in the entrepreneur.”

Bierman adds that there are also a number of quantitative competition measures, such as turnover growth, profitability, owners’ equity growth, positive cash flows and job creation that play a part in the competition’s judging process.

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 National Youth Day, 16 June 2016.

South Africa’s top entrepreneur of 2015 revealed

The Creative Council recognised as Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® winner

South Africa’s premier annual entrepreneurial competition, Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year®, has named Gil Oved and Ran Neu-Ner, co-owners and founders of The Creative Counsel (TCC), as this year’s overall competition winner at the awards ceremony held in Johannesburg this morning.

TCC is currently the largest advertising group in South Africa by staff and turnover, employing more than 1000 permanent employees and thousands of temporary staff who are trained and upskilled. Oved and Neu-Ner were selected from a finalist pool of 15 due to their exceptional flair for business and the creativity, passion and focus that they have demonstrated since starting the business 14 years ago.

The entrepreneurial qualities that the two display have resulted in a prosperous and innovative business model, and what started in 2001 as a two man operation is now a R600m+ business which employs and upskills thousands of South Africans. In the last year alone TCC grew by more than 25% and was recognised as the largest local advertising and communications group – a first in South African history that a non-traditional agency has achieved such status.

TCC was started as an in store promotions company by the co-CEOs and co-founders who have been friends and budding business partners since they were 15. The business has since evolved into an integrated agency that offers brand activation, experiential sales and marketing solutions to brands that wish to engage with their customers in a unique way.

According to Frances Wright, a member of the 2015 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® judging panel, what Oved and Neu-Ner have built in 14 years is phenomenal. “TCC today competes with multinational marketing and communications agencies that have been around for centuries. These two entrepreneurs have perfected job creation in that they employ candidates deemed ‘unemployable’ by employers and focus on up-skilling them, and therefore make a significant contribution to not only the economy, but job creation too. The business has also shown consistent growth, while maintaining a healthy net profit over the years.”

Neu-Ner says that winning this accolade is incredibly humbling and a great honour. “The platform also provides an opportunity for us to share the story of our entrepreneurial journey and hopefully through our failures, lessons learnt, and successes, many young people will be encouraged to pursue their business aspirations.”

For further information on The Creative Council, please visit www.creativecounsel.co.za

SA’s top entrepreneurs recognised across sectors

South Africa’s premier annual entrepreneurial competition, Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year®, this morning named Gil Oved and Ran Neu-Ner, founders and owners of The Creative Counsel (TCC), as the overall winners of the 2015 competition in Johannesburg this morning.

Speaking at the event, spokesperson for the 2015 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, Christo Botes, said that the judging process was extremely challenging this year, with judges having to select winners for the seven categories from 15 deserving finalists who were selected to advance to the final round of judging.

Botes says that Gil Oved and Ran Neu-Ner of TCC were selected as the overall 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year® winners due to the phenomenal success which the business has achieved in its 14 years of operation. “Founded in 2001 as a two-man agency, TCC is today the largest advertising group in South Africa by staff and turnover, with a targeted presence in Africa and plans to expand further into emerging markets.”

He says that TCC has also perfected the process of job creation – a trait inherent in entrepreneurs and a key reason why the competition seeks to discover and unmask South Africa’s economic heroes and celebrate the role they play in society. “The agency is one of South Africa’s largest private first-time employers in that the business employs untrained candidates and then focuses on up-skilling these individuals and equip them with experience for their future careers.”

Other 2015 category winners include:

2015 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Bryan Anderson, co-owner and co-founder of Delta Steam Systems

Anderson is the creator of a revolutionary Delta Venturi steam trap system, which removes water from steam systems to keep manufacturing systems efficient. The innovative product range is disrupting the global steam trap industry due to its simplicity and longevity.

www.delta-industries.com

2015 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® and Innovator of the Year®: Nadir Khamissa, founder and owner of The Hello Group

The Hello Group exists to create game-changing integrated consumer and business services for migrant and marginalised communities, and consists of a number of subsidiaries, each of which offers an innovative product or solution for individuals from these communities.

www.hellogroup.co.za

2015 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year®: Kim Whitaker, co-founder and co-owner of Once in Cape Town

Once in Cape Town is a hospitality establishment which is a combined product of two different accommodation types – a backpackers’ lodge and a luxury hotel – globally dubbed as a ‘poshtel’. The business offers a concise brand promise – the fun and adventurous qualities synonymous with a backpackers’ lodge, together with the cleanliness, safety, centrality and efficiency of a hotel.

www.onceincapetown.co.za

2015 Job Creator of the Year®: Lewis Thomas, owner and founder of Partners Hair Design

Thomas started the successful group of Western Cape based hair salons 31 years ago and currently owns 14 are unisex salons and eight male salons. In 2012, he launched his second line of hair salons called Hair Freedom. Providing full-time employment to over 250 employees, Lewis has also established a successful SETA accredited hair training academy which educates and equips students with tools to success in the competitive industry.

www.partnershair.co.za

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) entrepreneur, Ncamisile Maphumulo, of Coastal Nephrology Centre – a kidney dialysis treatment centre in deep-rural KZN – was awarded the 2015 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® Judges Prize. The judges prize was introduced last year 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 their attitude and positive entrepreneurial outlook.

Botes says that the judges believe that Maphumulo’s business needed special recognition for the social impact it is making. Maphumulo decided to start her business to provide much needed healthcare solutions to the patients that were left stranded by the closure of the health company she worked for in the community. “Maphumulo recognised the need in the community and used her competence to render a much needed service,” says Botes.

The competition provides prizes worth R 2 million, and will see the overall winner receive a cash prize of R 100 000.00 and the other category winners receiving R50 000 each. 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 and form valuable partnerships as a result of their success in the competition.

Now in its 27th year, the 2015 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition aims to honour, recognise and uplift South African SMEs and entrepreneurs, as well as celebrate excellence in entrepreneurship and inspire others to succeed in the world of business.