An Imbali businessman has put Pietermaritzburg on the business map by winning a top award at this year’s prestigious Sanlam Entrepreneur of the Year competition.The competition, which is co-sponsored by investment company Business/Partners, was held in Johannesburg on Wednesday.Siphiwe Ngcobo (37), the owner and founder of iLawu Hospitality Group, scooped the Job Creator of the Year award for creating numerous employment opportunities in his community.“I think that the Job Creator of the Year award is a fitting one as we at iLawu place great emphasis on job creation. The award vindicates our efforts in becoming one of the best employers in the hospitality sector,” said Ngcobo.The annual competition, which is in its 29th year, recognises and honours South African entrepreneurs in the small and medium enterprises sector.The competition offers winners mentorship support and networking opportunities as well as R60 000 towards the winner’s business.The Carter High School old boy said growing up, he was business-minded but never thought he would venture into the hospitality sector.“I never knew what I really wanted to do in life but I have always been involved in entrepreneurship activities.“I have tried many things and have owned many businesses in my life. I have a tech company that I am still running now, I’ve owned a tuck shop, a shisa’nyama in town and I have also manufactured ice-lollies,” he said.Ngcobo said he slowly started investing in property in 2006 and that is when the idea developed into the formation of iLawu Hospitality Group in 2009.iLawu has three different branches in Pietermaritzburg that offer, among other things, restaurants, accommodation and conference centres.“We are currently expanding and looking into opening more branches in small developing towns in KZN. We are looking to bring quality brands in those areas and become one of the best in those markets,” said Ngcobo.Ngcobo cautioned young upcoming entrepreneurs to be wary of chasing fame and fortune while still crafting their brand. “Focus on not being popular or a celebrity as that may cause unnecessary distraction, but rather focus on polishing your craft, improving your services and products and becoming the best in what you do. The universe will definitely reward you for the solutions you are providing to people,” he said.