The 11 finalists of the 2012 Entrepreneur Competition arrived looking nervous, but all handsomely presented and eager to give it their all and earn a place in the winners’ line-up. The grand finale show took place at the Pumpkin Theatre in Ballito on Friday evening, the 1st of November.
The event attracted more than 100 guests, including some of last year’s competition winners, VIP guests, sponsors, local business owners, the Chamber Mentors who have coached and trained the finalists over the last couple of months, members of the media and the supporters and fans of the finalists. A group of six Grade 10 Business Studies learners from Ashton International College also attended with their teacher Shawn Moodley. The class has been following the competition’s progress since its start in June 2012, and were keen to find out who the winners were. The crew from 1KZN TV were also there to film the event.
Angus Herselman from African Bank, a joint sponsor of The Entrepreneur Competition, expressed delight at being involved in The Entrepreneur Competition, and also introduced some of the other CSI projects within the iLembe district which African Bank has initiated and to which they provide ongoing support and resources.
The judges panel included carefully chosen businessmen and women who have demonstrated their own entrepreneurial success in the local business arena. They were; Bruce Rencken, owner of Lifestyle Superspar; Bongani Linda Chairman of Enterprise iLembe, Jane Wiltshire, Executive Trustee at Valbridge and Paul Naidoo, owner of Ballito Autohaus.
The finalists all took to the stage and were allocated 5 minutes to pitch their business to the audience and judges panel, followed by on-the-spot questions from the judges. Not an easy task for anyone to convincingly sell themselves and their business in just five minutes, but thanks to Chamber Mentor Chris Voysey, who kindly assisted the contestants to prepare for the daunting task, they all gave a moving, sincere and sometimes humorous performance.
“The quality of the presentations and the business plans was absolutely outstanding, which was a tribute to the months of hard work of the contestants and the dedication and expertise of the mentors.” Said judge Jane Wiltshire
“What a great choice of finalists. You all were amazing and I can see why you were chosen. I felt humbled to be in your presence. Well done to every single one of you”, said Kim Holt one of the semi-finalists who attended the event to cheer on her fellow competitors.
The judges had met and interviewed each one of the finalists in the week leading up to the final event, to get to know the contestants and explore their entrepreneurial qualities. “The jockey is just as important as the horse when it comes to a winning team”, said Trenley Tilbrook CEO of iLembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Tourism and added, “Even if the businesses plan itself is good, it can only be effectively implemented if the entrepreneur exhibits important qualities such as enthusiasm, self-confidence, passion, optimism and perseverance to ensure success.”
The Top 5 winners’ line- up included;
Cindy Gien, who won R50 000 investment into her company called Domestic UIF, who offers a simple online registration service for Domestic Employers with the Unemployment Insurance fund.
Bhekie Buthelezi also won R50 000 investment into Buthelezi Enterprises who offer an Internet Cafe and printing service located in Etete.
The charming duo from Superwaste Recycling, Vusi Maduna and Xolani Sibiya receive R30 000 which will go towards the transport and logistics of their recyclable waste products. These two young men who started their waste recycling business four years ago – with two supermarket trollies and flattening tin cans by jumping on them! They now have equipment worth R70,000 but have still never taken a salary. However, when they sold their first batch of glass (30 tons broken with a 4lb hammer), they did take R100 to buy themselves one pizza!
Donald Manda, alias ‘Donald Trump’ of Donald Manda Properties receives R30 000 which will be used to employ and train 2 new staff members.
Toni Watson, aka ‘The Iron Lady’ (because she gave birth to her baby daughter during the final weeks of the competition), and owner of The Sarmie Shop receives R30 000 to expand her catering operation.
The runners up certainly did not go away empty handed, and all received R5000 for their efforts, as well as more unexpected additional prizes donated by local business, organisations and venture capitalists;
Tholakele Sibiya of Inqununu Fresh Daily Vegetables, received a contract from Lifestyle Superspar to supply them with her fresh produce.
Ntombifuthi Mavundla owner of NTO’s Home Bakery was delighted with her donation of a new oven, sponsored by Ellerines, which will make her cup cake baking a whole lot easier and more efficient. Until now, Ntombifuthi has had to get up at 2am when she gets a big order to bake her cup cakes (6 at a time in her mini oven) to ensure that she is able to deliver fresh product to her client. Lifestyle Spar is also sponsoring her with R500 of ingredients.
Emritha Maharaj, nicknamed ‘The Banana Queen’ from Amy’s Fruit & Veg will be assisted with venture capital from the Kelleigh Trust.
Lungile Khuzwayo a dressmaker and designer was given a box full of designer evening wear garments donated by a locally based senior executive of African Bank, which she will hire out to her clients through her company Siyaqhakaza, and will also receive a new sewing machine and other equipment and fabric kindly sponsored by The Lions Club.
Bonginhlanhla Mncube from Cherish Funeral Services and Nonhle Dlamini owner of Designa Bedouin Tents & Events, made up the remainder of the eleven finalist positions, with Nonhle also being assisted further by financing of new tents by UTL Financial Services.
Over and above the capital investments which were generously sponsored by African Bank and Enterprise iLembe, the Top 5 also receive a 12 month contract with Phezulu Business Management (Pty Ltd), who will provide the winning companies with an all-inclusive business service, including business planning, mentoring, marketing, bookkeeping, year-end financials, tax planning, BEE advisory and business administration. All this is bound to give the winners leverage to further develop and grow their enterprise.
The finalists were further rewarded with a 12 month free Chamber membership, and will be closely monitored and assisted with the development of their businesses, with the help of the Mentors. During this time it will be decided which of the Top 5 will receive a further equity investment of R100 000, based on their continued performance.
Charles Alcock, one of the Chamber accredited mentors who coached the finalists on financial planning, wrote, “Last night was a fantastic evening, it was not only inspiring but felt very rewarding to be part of being able to create happiness and motivation for the winners.”
The Entrepreneur Competition was initiated by the iLembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism in 2011. The ICCIT is committed to help grow and strengthen local business through a variety of networking, business support and training platforms. “The Entrepreneur Competition is just one of our ways to improve the economic future and quality of life for all”, said Tilbrook.
It is aligned to the chamber’s objectives in that it promotes and supports new and established local enterprises, it identifies and creates employment opportunities and promotes best practice in business. The joint venture has also enhanced public/private relationships and has highlighted the potential to grow into a far reaching event which will attract the attention of government and corporate companies nationally who may be looking for opportunities to invest in small business and entrepreneurship.
Every one of these people have not only created employment for themselves, but also for other people which shows that small entrepreneurs are a big part of the answer to South Africa’s unemployment problems, said Wiltshire.
We look forward to following the progress of this year’s winners and an even bigger and better competition in 2013. For more information on the competition, visit www.ilembechamber.co.za