Entrepreneurs are said to be the true heroes of South Africa’s economic society. SMEs contribute between 30% and 50% of the local GDP and employ up to 60% of the country’s labour force. Without SMEs and entrepreneurs, South Africa’s economy would not be as diverse or vibrant as it is. And that’s something to celebrate – which is exactly what Sanlam and Business Partners are doing.
Just over twenty years ago, Business Partners launched a programme celebrating entrepreneurial success. The 2011 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year awards continues in this tradition, but just as the SME sector is currently on the rise, so too is the level of entrepreneurial activity in South Africa.
Last year’s entries exceeded all expectations. Initially targeted at 150 entries, the final tally was 331. According to Christo Botes, executive director at Business Partners, the standard was incredibly high, which bodes well for the future of entrepreneurship in South Africa. “We have exceptional entrepreneurs in this country, as well as a strong entrepreneurial spirit, but we need to grow this sector even further, and by shining a light on local successes we aim to achieve just that.”
Sanlam, the sponsor of the awards programme, shares Business Partners’ view of entrepreneurship and the importance of promoting this sector locally. Jan Steenkamp, executive head of Sanlam Business and Professional Markets, the division within the Sanlam Group that caters to the financial needs of business owners, believes that entrepreneurship is a key factor in promoting local development, and it is therefore crucial to encourage and support local businesses in their drive to develop and close the gaps in the local economy and business sectors.
“As active players in this market, we need to remain relevant and to do that we need to promote and encourage entrepreneurs,” says Steenkamp. “Through a competition like this we can reward, highlight and uplift entrepreneurs, which we hope serves as inspiration for people who have thought about striking out on their own, but haven’t yet taken the first step to do so.”
Acknowledging that it is a bold move to start a company, Steenkamp applauds entrepreneurs who have taken the risks to do so. “Entrepreneurs have to be willing to lose it all, which is a tall ask of anybody. We want to give recognition to those that succeed, and hopefully strike a chord in many other South Africans thinking of entering this market at the same time.”
The awards are divided into four categories:
- Emerging Entrepreneur: An entrepreneur that has been in its present business for less than three years.
- Small Business Entrepreneur: A business, irrespective of length of time which it has been active, with a turnover of R20 million or less.
- Medium Business Owner: A business, irrespective of length of time which it has been active, with a turnover of R20 million or more.
- Overall winner: Most outstanding business across all categories
And the winners receive:
The overall winner’s prize money amounts to R100 000 and the opportunity to visit a tradeshow anywhere in the world. Each category winner receives R20 000.
About the Entrepreneur of the Year Competition
Initiated in 1989 by Business Partners, the annual Entrepreneur of the Year® award aims to give recognition to the vision, innovation, perseverance, drive and commitment of the individuals who run successful small and medium enterprises.
Contact Vicky Nish, EOY Manager, at 011 713 6600 for more information or visit www.eoy.co.za