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Sani2c: Glen Haw

A dairy farmer and social entrepreneur builds a thriving social entrepreneurship business with the sani2c bike race, creating jobs and changing lives across rural KwaZulu Natal.

Juliet Pitman




When outdoor adventurer and passionate mountain biker Glen Haw started the sani2c mountain bike race seven years ago, he could never have envisaged that it would grow into the biggest event of its kind in the world.

What started out as a local fundraising event for a small under-resourced rural school in KwaZulu Natal has become a thriving multi-million rand business that creates jobs and supports the education of thousands of rural schoolchildren. “At some schools children’s education is being subsidised at a rate of R400 per child per month, thanks to the race,” says Haw.

Firmly rooted in a social entrepreneurial model, sani2c, presented by BoE Private Clients,  uses the local community and local schools as service providers, paying them an agreed fee to organise everything from pre-registration packs to setting up stations along the route. “They help with the many logistical operations incurred by an event of this magnitude,” says Haw. Activities in this regard include course preparation, bike washing, seconding/food tables, erecting of overnight race villages and catering.

“Wherever possible, we organise sponsorships where large companies donate a range of items that are needed by race participants along the way. This helps the service providers to reduce their costs and to raise even more money, and the sponsors get media coverage whilst being able to contribute to a good cause,” Haw explains, adding that the majority of sponsorships are based on ‘in-kind’ rather than ‘cash’ contracts.

For the majority of organisations involved, the event constitutes their biggest fundraiser. “There are no volunteers – every organisation that works on the event is paid for its services,” says Haw, who describes the model as a foolproof way for the organisations to raise funds while adding value to the event. “The work delivered must conform to a certain standard though,” he adds, “At the end of the day, I need to be able to justify the costs to my riders.”

Since its launch in 2004, sani2c has experienced phenomenal growth, almost doubling the number of entrants each year. A committed focus on the rider experience is partly responsible for the success and significant growth of sani2c. “What’s good for the riders is good for the race is good for everybody,” says Haw, explaining that riders need only arrive with their bikes and their kit. “Everything is provided for them over the three-day period, from tents and mattresses to three daily meals and on-route drinks and snacks,” he says.

That’s no mean feat when you consider that the race covers a 270km off-road route over a  three-day period, taking riders from Underberg near Sani Pass, through the Umkomaas River Valley, to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu Natal south coast.

Being able to attract ever-increasing numbers of participants has enabled sani2c to land large corporate sponsors such as BoE and Subaru, which is why putting the rider first is the business’s core focus.

“When we started out there was not that much competition, but that’s all changed,” says Haw. Keeping sani2c’s position as one of the top events on the mountain-biking calendar requires ongoing innovation. “Every year we introduce something new and exciting, something that provides riders with a unique challenge,” he explains. Many of these innovations are world-firsts, such as the floating bridge constructed across the Umkomaas River in 2011’s race. “It creates a talking point and provides riders with an additional reason to enter,” says Haw.

The increasing demand for entries saw the original event split into two overlapping fixtures in 2011 – a race for serious competitors and an adventure component for social riders. “We’ve split the next race into three fixtures to accommodate the number of entries and ensure that we maintain a unique rider experience that’s not too crowded,” says Haw. Even so, the waiting list for 2012 is longer than it’s ever been. “We thought we’d have saturated the market by now but that doesn’t seem to have happened,” he adds.

What Haw has created in sani2c stands as an example of logistical and business excellence. It also demonstrates just what can be achieved when you harness the power of a community to the benefit of all.

Securing the supply chain

Loyalty to service providers generates good relationships.

Sani2c is officially the world’s largest fully serviced mountain bike stage race. Managing the logistics of such an event is no small undertaking and relies heavily on having a supply chain that’s reliable and consistent. In this regard Haw believes that relationships are key. “For the most part we’re using the same service providers as we’ve always done since the race’s inception. This means they know the race and they understand our service and quality requirements,” he explains. Service providers have also grown with the race and Haw highlights this as an important success factor.

“Every year they have been able to make improvements to their service which ultimately benefits our riders,” he says, adding that the investment made in developing relationships with these service providers has paid dividends tenfold. It’s an important lesson for other entrepreneurs.

If customers and staff form two pillars of business success, suppliers form the third and yet they are often taken for granted. Entrepreneurs who treat their suppliers as business partners instead of adversaries gain multiple advantages for their businesses. Investing in supplier relationships means that suppliers are in a better position to understand the needs of your business and this in turn secures quality, continuity and responsiveness.

By the numbers

BoE Sani2c’s winning formula.

1 Status as world’s largest fully serviced mountain bike stage race

3 Number of days it takes to complete the multi-stage route

76 The number of farms riders cross along the route

763 The number of participants who listed their occupation as ‘entrepreneur’

2000 Number of workers involved in the event

2600 Number of riders who participated in 2010

2007 & 2008 Won Best Cycle Race of the Year award

R2 million Spent on accommodation alone during the 2011 event

R5 million Put back into rural communities between Underberg and Scottburgh

R40 million Estimated indirect spend in the region as a result of the race (Tourism SA)

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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Company Posts

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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