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Endeavor South Africa: Greg Durst

A non-profit organisation helps to catalyse the growth of high impact entrepreneurs.

Juliet Pitman



Greg Durst of Endeavor

There can be few entrepreneurs who haven’tdreamed at some point of being able to sit down with the best business mindsand ask them a few pertinent questions, pick up a couple of tips, or get theirinsight into how to go about solving a particularly sticky problem. And therecan be no doubt that one-on-one mentorship and advice from those who’ve alreadybeen successful in business can help small businesses immeasurably. Theproblem, however, is how to access these leaders.

Endeavor, a global non-profit organisation,has come up with a solution. Started ten years ago in Chile, it identifies andsupports innovative, high-growth, high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging marketsaround the world and provides them with access to the mentorship, advice andintellectual capital of some of the most pre-eminent business leaders in SouthAfrica and the world. Greg Durst, MD of Endeavor South Africa, explains, “Ourfundamental ethos is about creating a sustainable middle class throughentrepreneurship. Around the world, Endeavor aims to transform the economies ofemerging markets by identifying and supporting high-impact entrepreneurs.Because the SMME sector creates 80% of private sector jobs in South Africa,this is where we have chosen to focus.”The organisation’s methodology comprisesthree parts: search and selection, entrepreneurship services, and education andoutreach. Through a rigorous search and selection screening process, itidentifies and interviews hundreds of entrepreneurs. “Typically, we focus onthose that are in the post start-up phase with a minimum of R3 million inrevenue or capital raised. They go through about 25 hours of screeninginterviews and we take about 10 to 12 through to an international selectionpanel where there is another set of screening interviews,” explains Durst,adding that candidates are assessed on their entrepreneurial initiative, rolemodel potential, business innovation, ethical fibre, development impact and fitwith Endeavor.

“When we talk about high-impactentrepreneurs, we mean a couple of things. Firstly, innovation is important.Their business should have a real potential to change or improve the way anindustry operates. It needn’t necessarily be a new or unique product – theymight have developed an innovative new business practice or be targeting a newcustomer niche. We focus strongly on innovation because we want to help createlong-term sustainable companies that can grow locally and internationally. Thesecond element of being high-impact is the ability to foster job creation, andthis is best achieved by companies that can grow and develop,” says Durst. The international selection panel has tovote unanimously in favour of a candidate in order for them to become anEndeavor entrepreneur and of the 700-odd interviewed to date, just 25 have beeninvited to join. But while the process is certainly rigorous, the rewards areimmense. Successful candidates have access to Endeavor’s local board – whichcomprises Adrian Gore, David Frankel, Vincent Mai, Jennifer Oppenheimer, IsaacShongwe, Hlumelo Biko, Matthew Brown, Paul Harris and Beven Nyatoro – and aventure core of 130 senior professionals and successful entrepreneurs whovolunteer to act as mentors to foster growth and development.

A dedicated account portfolio manager isassigned to each company, which also benefits from a customised 18-month workplan based on analysis from the world’s top business leaders; three-month’sengagement with MBA students recruited from top global business schools; accessto workshops and conferences with respected academics, top executives andentrepreneurs, access to closed business networks and the most current businessresearch tools; and investing and networking road shows. The global Endeavornetwork offers networking opportunities with other Endeavor entrepreneurs fromSouth Africa and six Latin American affiliates.In return, Endeavor entrepreneurs are askedto aggressively promote and support entrepreneurship, act as role models toother emerging high-impact entrepreneurs and foster a culture ofentrepreneurship in the country.“While we don’t provide funding, we doprovide Endeavor entrepreneurs with access to funders like FNB and HorizonPrivate Equity with whom we have strategic alliances. So in a way, we’re kindof like a venture capital firm without the fund. Instead of funds we investintellectual capital to catalyse growth. We call ourselves venture catalysts.“

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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