THREE emerging entrepreneurs from the Free State have been chosen as part of the 46 candidates to undergo a two-year mentoring business training programme offered by the South African Breweries (SAB) Foundation’s Tholoana Enterprise Programme. The trio from the province is Thabisile Hlongwane (Isibusiso Holdings), Kelebogile Mande (Rejanala Farms & Projects) and Tyson Mpeake (Mpeake Creations). Nationally, only 46 small business owners were chosen from more than 2 000 applicants country-wide at separate workshops held in Cape Town and Johannesburg recently. The selected entrepreneurs will, during the two-year programme, receive intensive training around business support to take their businesses to the next level of success. Rejanala Farms is an agri-business entity based in Thaba Nchu’s rural Merino Trust Village. It specialises in horticulture, which includes, among others but not limited to, vegetables and fruit. The project is on the verge of expanding its operation into grains. Mande said because of the severe drought, planting operations had been put on hold last season. Isibusiso Holdings (Pty) Ltd (trading as Isibusiso Concrete) is a company specialising in the manufacture, supply and installation of a wide range of SABS standard precast concrete products. Hlongwane said the company was also in the process of extending their services to manholes, paving and pipe manufacturing.The applicants were exposed to the unique style of business training and entrepreneur support that the programme offers. A site visit to their business premises was the final step in the rigorous selection process.“The quality of the applicants from this region was outstanding. We were really impressed with the candidates and the passion for their respective endeavours. We congratulate each one,” said Bridgit Evans, the manager of the SAB Foundation.“We are passionate about helping South African entrepreneurs succeed,” said Catherine Wijnberg, founder of Fetola, who is the implementing partner for Tholoana. “The Tholoana programme does this by empowering promising black women- and youth-owned businesses and providing them with the professional growth support they need to become fully empowered and in control of their business future.”She said the large number of entries in youth entrepreneurship was necessary to counteract rising youth unemployment. Wijnberg said more than 61% of the participants were under the age of 35. Participants can look forward to practical business workshops and personal mentoring, e-learning and support for costing and pricing, finance, human resources and brand development. Additionally, they will receive media and marketing assistance, investment readiness preparation, as well as access to a wide network of like-minded peers.