Entrepreneurs can enter

2016-06-01 06:00

CURRENTLY in its 28th year, the free-to-enter 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year competition is open to entrepreneurs of all industries and for businesses of any size.

By providing valuable employment, infrastructure and skills development opportunities, entrepreneurs hold the key to the development of their communities.

Despite tough economic times, the effects of which are most clearly seen in smaller communities, entrepreneurs are ready and able to identify and capitalise on opportunities created by gaps in the market.

While very rewarding, entrepreneurship can be a tough journey.

Entrepreneurs need support to grow their businesses to levels at which they can positively contribute to job creation and economic growth.

Society at large should be providing the right guidance and support systems to motivate and encourage entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.

This is especially true for business owners in small towns and more rural communities who do not have the overwhelming support of big business or the public sector.

These entrepreneurs, who like many, start their business journeys in a room in their homes, a garage, or back-yard dwelling, are the entrepreneurs who should be celebrated as the heroes of their communities.

Take Tommy Makhatho, owner of BiBi Cash & Carry, and winner of the 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year title.

Bibi Cash & Carry is South Africa’s largest entirely black-owned retail operation situated in the rural area of Qwaqwa and includes 32 express stores, which Makhatho actively assisted in starting. Born and raised in Soweto, Makhatho is a true example of an entrepreneur, having only been an employee for two years of his life.

Since the first store was launched in 1984, the retail group has grown in profit and size significantly, and today provides jobs to more than 680 employees.

The retailer also offers an in-house learnership programme to its staff, which transfers critical tools and skills to employees of all levels.

“Winning the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year award gives us an opportunity to display how an organisation can grow from nothing into a flourishing business.

“All it takes is love, hard-work and passion to achieve it,” says Makhatho.

The annual competition aims to celebrate entrepreneurial excellence, and through the awareness generated for the 2016 entrants and winners, raise the profile of entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year competition sponsored by Sanlam/Business Partners, says that entering business competitions affords entrepreneurs the opportunity to look at their business from a different perspective and to gain valuable insight into its successes and failures.

This is apart from any cash prize money which would be used for funding the growth of the business, as well as the invaluable national marketing the entrepreneur and the business will receive by being named a finalist or winner.

“Entering such a competition carries immense value with the ease of access to business experts, creation of a broader business network, increase in the profile of the business and the possibility of a cash injection into the business’s finances and growth prospects,” says Mjadu.

For more information on the ­competition’s entry criteria, visit www.eoy.co.za.

Entries close on Thursday, 16 June.

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