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Entrepreneur Organisation (EO) South Africa: Allon Raiz

Three young entrepreneurs launch the South African chapter of EO

Juliet Pitman

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The Entrepreneur Organisation

Allon Raiz, the typically upbeat co-founderof Entrepreneur Organisation (EO) South Africa, attributes the successful launchof the organisation to some fortunate coincidences. This despite its difficultbeginnings.Founded almost 20 years ago in the US, EOis an international body with 6 000-plus members and 120 chapters in 40countries around the globe. Members are united in their common desire to growtheir businesses, learn from others and share their experiences. Two membersfrom affiliate body YPO (Young Presidents’ Organisation), Bernard Seef and Clive Silberg, initially identified Orrin Klopper and David Dworcan as potentialfounding candidates for EO in this country. Raiz’s name was suggested toKlopper by a mutual contact. “When he asked if I was interested in joining themand I asked who ‘them’ was, he told me it was himself and David, who happens tobe married to my wife’s sister. It was a serendipitous coincidence,” says Raiz.

Previously known as YEO (YoungEntrepreneurs’ Organisation), the organisation had already been launched inSouth Africa a few years back, but had failed. “When we applied to theinternational body to launch in South Africa again, we were told that if wewere serious about it, we had to raise US$50 000 first. That meant we had tocome up with half a million rand.” The three put together a value propositionand started knocking on doors. “Everyone we spoke to said it soundedinteresting but we couldn’t tell them who our members were or how many we hadbecause we didn’t have any!” says Raiz. “Eventually, after a year of no’s, wemet with Angie Chapman from Ernst & Young, who saw the light and providedus with sponsorship. Finally, we had the money we needed to launch.” Havingraised the funds, the founding members managed to get the requirement for theUS$50 000 quashed. “Now that we didn’t have to pay the amount, we had funds tostart something that could offer real value to members,” he adds. EO SouthAfrica was so successful in its founding year that it won the worldwide awardfor Best Start-Up Chapter.

The organisation has over 40 members and isgrowing at a rate of about three new members a month. Application criteriainclude being a founding member or major shareholder of a business that does anannual turnover of at least R8 million, and being 45 years of age or younger.Applicants go through a selection process and board interviews.Looking at EO’s membership offering, it’snot difficult to see why people apply. There are three legs: education,networking and something called forum. Raiz explains the education offering:“Locally, EO holds two events a month, one with a guest speaker of the likes ofGidon Novick or Tony Lamberti, and one more technically oriented event.Internationally, members can attend travelling universities where they areexposed to the world’s top entrepreneurs and business authors. They can alsotake part in the Birthing of Giants three-year programme and a mini-MBA offeredby top US universities.” In addition, each member is matched with a mentor fromthe World Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (WEO), all of whom are doyens of businessin their particular industry.

The networking opportunities provided by EOare unparalleled. Locally, members have access to everyone in EO as well asmembers from YEO and WEO. Internationally, they have access to a database andcontact details of all EO members worldwide. “You can contact the president ofan EO chapter anywhere in the world and ask to be set up with a particular member,” saysRaiz. “Forum, in my mind, is the most valuableand unique offering,” says Raiz. Eight to ten entrepreneurs from different(never competing) businesses make a forum, which stays together over manyyears. “You hold a weekly forum which is a very structured process ofengagement. You get to know each other and confidentiality is paramount. Youmay not talk about forum, who the members are or what was discussed in anyway,” he explains. “For people who know the loneliness of entrepreneurship,forum provides a space to talk about burning issues that you may not be able todiscuss with anyone else. You can take your problems there and for an hour, agroup of great business minds will help you to find a solution. It’sunbelievably powerful,” he adds. EO provides entrepreneurs with a place tocall home where they can grow, share challenges and interact with likemindedpeople. Fees amount to R16 500 a year which provides access to all EO servicesand events both nationally and internationally.

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.

CEOwise

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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

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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.

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“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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