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Polished Pitch Wins the Day

Green was the prevailing theme at this year’s Pitch & Polish competition, aimed at teaching entrepreneurs how to pitch their ideas to financiers.





The national Pitch & Polish entrepreneurial competition has been won by Criytone Revanewako from Emalahleni.

The finale for the 2012 competition was held at The Venue in Melrose Arch. What was interesting was that all three of the finalists: Alan Butler, Bhongolwethu Sonti and Criytone Revanewako, fell into the category of “greentrepreneurs”.

The panel of experts

A sponsor and one of the three judges, Dave Wright, Corporate Planning director from Engen Petroleum, said, “We are proud and privileged to be part of Pitch & Polish. SMMEs are the secret for success for job creation which is addressed through this competition.”

Khabo Raphoto, HR Director at Babcock International Group: Africa, and Allon Raiz, CEO of Raizcorp, were also on the panel of experts who listened to the contestants’ final three minute pitch.

The finalists were:

  • Alan Butler of Green Thumb Home Growers Co-operative. His business idea offers a solution to the need for housing, food security, and employment. Butler stated, “My product is a single garage-sized growing room, supported by 11 individual companies that form a co-operative.” Butler, from the Cape, won the Wild Card competition on SAfm.
  • Bhongolwethu Sonti, from Port Elizabeth, wanted to transform township dumping sites into community hydroponic farms. His objective is to create financial growth within these communities, providing them with a source of food, making it self-sustainable, transfer skills and create jobs.
  • Criytone Revanewako, from eMalahleni, approaches environmental issues from a recycling perspective, using slag generated by the ferrochrome smelting industry to produce economically useful products cheaply and sustainably. These include paving and building bricks, road construction material, roofing and flooring tiles, pre-mixed and ready mixed concrete.

Growing awareness of the need for green

The rise of social entrepreneurs and “greentrepreneurs”, such as these finalists, represents a growing awareness amongst South Africans of the importance of sustainability in all aspects of life.
Some 41% of the 2012 Pitch & Polish contestants were social entrepreneurs, compared to 29% in 2011.

Polishing your pitch

The Pitch & Polish programme is developed and run by South African small business incubator, Raizcorp, and is based on the premise that many entrepreneurs struggle to raise finance, not because their ideas are flawed, but because they don’t know how to pitch their ideas effectively.

The competition provides a prime example of how corporate South Africa can generate education and business development opportunities for smaller businesses, while ensuring that sustainable social development goals are also met.

Education and entertainment come together

Bronwyn Echardt, Pitch & Polish project manager at Raizcorp, attributes much of its success to the combined education and entertainment format.

“Research by Laurie Scholtz on the impact of social entrepreneurs’ education and business skills training, published in 2011, showed that there are only three types of informal business skills training that have a significant impact on the success of organisations, namely: business experience, networks, and workshops and conferences.”

Pitch & Polish combines all three.

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