Turning Passion into Profit


Tommy Makhatho on winning the 2013 Sanlam/ Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition winner

We chat to this year’s overall Sanlam/ Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition winner, Tommy Makhatho, owner of BiBi Cash & Carry, about his entrepreneurial journey and experiences post winning the title.

1. What was your reaction to winning the overall Entrepreneur of the Year® award?

Every time I get asked this particular question I always have a different response. The reason for this is that I experienced a range of emotions, all of which were extremely positive. Overall, I felt overwhelmed and incredibly blessed to have a team such as mine – as the award would not have been possible if it wasn’t for them.

2. What does it mean to you to be recognised for your business achievements?

I never really thought about being recognised for my business achievements or sought to be recognised. Instead, it has always been about pushing the envelope and exceeding my own expectations. However after winning this award and being recognised for my business’ achievements, it has made me aware of where we have come from and what we have survived thus far. It has also provided me with the adrenaline and strength to pursue another 25 years. This recognition makes me realise that this is only the beginning of our journey and that people should never stop dreaming, no matter their age.

3. How was business been after winning the title – have you noticed more interest in your business post the awards ceremony?

Business has been great – especially the working environment! My team realise they are a part of a bigger dream and this has boosted staff morale and contributed to a motivated working environment. I have also been approached by many companies wanting to take the business to the next level. This had in the past not happened on such a large scale, but thanks to the awards, opportunities are now presenting themselves.

4. Any future plans for your business?

Yes definitely! As mentioned before, I am constantly dreaming whilst other people my age are preparing themselves to cash out, retire and play golf. I however, plan to stay strong so my dreams and goals can still be achieved. The best way to achieve these goals is with a steady mind and healthy body so that I can chase after them, and still be the first at the office and last to leave.

Ultimately my future plans is to grow my business to the point that my business rivals Shoprite, mention my name at every Shoprite board meeting due to my understanding of the market like no other retail company.

5. What is your advice for business owners considering entering the EOY awards?

I strongly advise that entrepreneurs and business owners, no matter their business size, take as many opportunities as possible, because a business is all about taking risks – both good and bad. There will always be that one shot that hits the target, so consider entering awards such as the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, as the exposure and confidence it gives you and your business is tremendous.

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