Cape Town – Resilience and the ability to adapt within a tough economic climate led Adri Kruger to victory in this year’s Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, which was announced on Wednesday.
Kruger is the owner of Tzaneen Country Lodge, a country style hotel situated on a 170 hectare working mango farm just outside Tzaneen in the Limpopo Province. Starting with an old and dilapidated farmstead in 2000, Kruger managed to successfully develop what was intended to be a four-bedroomed guest house into a full-service 60 bedroom hotel.
* Listen to the interview with Fin24 below where Kruger speaks about how the prize will impact her business, her success story, her passion for the environment and helping her community and a special message to women entrepreneurs.
Why Kruger won
She was awarded the overall title due to the resilience she showed in the current economic climate and her ability to adapt her business model to attract a different market from the ones she typically served – both traits inherent in a true entrepreneur.
Kruger said the award validated all the hard work, perseverance, determination, passion and the sacrifices that she made along her entrepreneurial journey. “It also underwrites the belief I have in myself and in my staff at the hotel,” she said.
“However, above all, I believe that it will serve as an inspiration to all women, especially those coming from a relatively poor background with limited opportunities. I am a firm believer that anything is possible if you focus your mind and energy on a goal.”
Fin24's Matthew le Cordeur spoke to Kruger shortly after her award announcement.
The 26 year old competition, widely considered to be the pre-eminent of its kind in South Africa, celebrates excellence in entrepreneurship and aims to honour, benefit and uplift South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by providing a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their achievements and elevate their profile, as well as their profits.
Other 2014 category winners include:
- 2014 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year: Johan Eksteen, owner of Agricon, a worldwide supplier of pelletising machinery and equipment as well as agri–processing factories.
- 2014 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year: Marthie Jansen Van Rensburg, founder of Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Centre. Based in Kempton Park, Johannesburg. The centre focuses on training unemployed individuals as artisans.
- 2014 Job Creator of the Year: Theresa J Cupido, CEO and owner of ATN Group, which has over a 100 years of combined expertise and skills in the Roadmarking and Civil engineering field. The group employs between 250 and 300 individuals, and has grown its employment rate by 100% in the last year.
- 2014 Innovator of the Year: Lorimer Gowar, founder of Larrem, is a leading player in South Africa’s Animal Health industry and specialises in the manufacturing of veterinary nutriceuticals, pharmaceuticals, feed additives and supplements, as well as raw material commodity sourcing.
What they won
The competition provides prizes worth R1 340 000, which includes a cash prize of R100 000 for the overall winner and R50 000 for each of the other category winners. Each winner received valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and associated marketing and national media exposure to further drive their business’ success.
Back row, from left: Ferose Oaten (judge for the 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year awards), Christo Botes, spokesperson for the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year completion and Executive Director at Business Partners), Lionel Billings (2014 EOY judge and Head of National Consulting Services at Business Partner), Kobus Engelbrecht (2014 EOY judge and Marketing Head of Sanlam Business Market) and Lorimer Gowar, owner of Larrem Pty Ltd (Innovator of the Year).
Front from, from left: Leema and Dudu Mofokeng, owners of Legaci Dry Cleaners and Laundry Services (Judges prize), Marthie Jansen Van Rensburg, founder and owner of Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Centre (Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year), Adri Kruger, owner of Tzaneen Country Lodge (Overall 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year winner), Theresa Cupido, owner of ATN Roadmarking and Civils (Job Creator of the Year) and Johan Eksteen, owner of Agricon(Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year).
An additional award that was handed out this year was the 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year Judges Prize, which was awarded to joint owners of Legaci Dry Cleaners and Laundry Services, Dudu and Leema Mofokeng.
With branches based in Pretoria and a head office in Silver Lakes, the company currently has three retail outlets and an industrial plant specialising in high-end dry cleaning services for the hospitality and commercial industries, as well as individual clients.
Competition spokesperson Christo Botes said this business made the biggest impression on the judges. “While the business is not yet at the level of the other entrepreneurs awarded this year, in terms of size and turnover, Dudu and Leema Mofokeng have managed to grow the business organically from nothing when they first established the business in 2008,” he said. “We have no doubt that this business will continue to grow and succeed."
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