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Celebrating The Heroes of South Africa’s Economy

Whether they’re innovating and bringing the market new products, creating hundreds of new jobs, boosting the economy or inspiring other entrepreneurial businesses to take flight, entrepreneurs are making a difference to the world around them. The annual Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year awards celebrate these businesses and their achievements. These are this year’s winners.

Nadine Todd




Tommy Makhatho

Entrepreneur of the Year/ Job Creator of the Year


Why he won: Superior local knowledge, flexibility and determination create a winning combination.

Due to the significant contribution he has made in his local community by providing jobs to more than 680 employees, Tommy Makhatho, owner of BiBi Cash & Carry, a retail group situated in the rural area of Qwa Qwa in the Free State, has also been named both the 2013 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year and Job Creator of the Year.

In addition to his job creation achievements, Makhatho also assists fellow entrepreneurs by allowing smaller retailers to make use of the BiBi Cash & Carry brand name, in exchange for support and access to company information. The retailer also offers an in-house learnership programme to its staff which transfers critical tools and skills to employees of all levels.

Makhatho presently owns seven BiBi Cash & Carry stores, which is currently South Africa’s largest entirely black owned retail operation, and is involved with 32 express stores, which he actively assisted in starting. Since the first store was launched in 1984 this retail group has grown significantly in profit and size.

The lauded entrepreneur believes he has a competitive advantage over the bigger retail chains in the area due to his team’s superior local knowledge, its flexibility as a smaller regional player, as well as its determination to operate close to the townships and communities where most of its consumers reside.

From the judges

“The success and perseverance Tommy Makhatho has displayed in a very competitive market makes him a truly worthy winner and an inspirational role model to aspiring entrepreneurs both within his community and the country as a whole. It’s clear that Tommy understands the needs of the market segments in which he does business. This, coupled with his meticulous attention to detail, and an unrelenting will to continuously seek ways to add to his bottom line, makes him a worthy winner.” – Kobus Engelbrecht, marketing head, Sanlam Business Market

Chris Brown and Andrew Brown

Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year


Why they won: Securing a niche market through exceptional service.

Andrew Brown, co-founder of The Daily Buzz, an upmarket and speciality chain of coffee bars which service the corporate workplace, spotted a gap in the market for a superior and easily accessible coffee spot while working as a risk professional in Joburg. The idea to provide quality coffee in such a way that allowed employees to return to their workstations quickly and efficiently was slowly formed.

As part of the start-up plan, co-founder and brother Chris trained at the London School of Coffee, as well as other institutes in Italy, the US and Africa in order to perfect the art of delivering a premium coffee experience.

Over the years The Daily Buzz has successfully secured a niche in the market and is set apart from its competitors by its ongoing skills development and training programmes, which are provided to all staff on a frequent basis to ensure exceptional service and product expertise.

Since opening their first coffee bar in the Standard Bank headquarters in Johannesburg with just two employees in 2006, The Daily Buzz has grown to seven outlets and employs approximately 60 people.

From the judges

“With five fellow finalists recognised in the small business category, Andrew and Chris were awarded the title as they perfected a simple product, added to it a healthy dose of service, and created a brand which is highly sought after. Ultimately what made The Daily Buzz stand out was the combination of a high quality product and a determined focus on customer service and experience.” – Stefan Beyers, Partner, PWC South Africa

Anton Rossouw

Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year


Why he won: A role model for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make a difference.

After a long journey in the medical industry which equipped him with a wealth of medical institutional experience, Anton Rossouw founded Life Path Health in 2001. A network of private hospitals, Life Path Health specialises in mental health-related illnesses, addiction rehabilitation, post traumatic stress and anxiety disorders.

Apart from playing an active commercial role in the healthcare industry, Rossouw also actively participates in the development of awareness surrounding mental health. The business prides itself on regular engagement with industry bodies to negotiate medical aid funding for the treatment of mental illnesses. “The destigmatisation of mental illness in South Africa is a focal point for our company and our efforts have been a key driver to address the issue,” says Rossouw.

Successfully establishing six clinics throughout the Western Cape, with a seventh clinic opened in October 2013, Rossouw plans to expand nationally in the next five years.

From the judges

“Anton Rossouw is a role model for aspiring South African entrepreneurs. In a competitive industry, he has managed to identify an opportunity to establish a sustainable business which employs over 200 people while taking on some sizeable competitors.” Dr Kerrin Myres, CEO, Resonance Group

Mariaan du Plessis and Conrad Smith

Innovator of the Year


Why they won: Ground-breaking research and a focus on quality, strategy and systems ensure continued growth.

A strong and compatible business partnership has stood Dr Conrad Smith and Mariaan du Plessis in good stead. Over the past decade the founders of Medical Nutritional Institute have developed top-quality products that are scientifically sound and able to withstand the scrutiny and scepticism of the mainstream pharmaceutical and medical world, thanks to a strong entrepreneurial flair, a good mindset for business strategy and system development, and most notably ground-breaking research and development within the pharmaceutical industry.

Established in 2002, the company specialises in the development of

non-prescription medication made from organic molecules. All products are manufactured to the specifications of local and international medicine regulatory boards, including the Medical Control Council (MCC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Du Plessis, who is currently the CEO at Medical Nutritional Institute, says that although the reputation of complementary medicine has been under continued scrutiny due to a lack of regulated quality products, Medical Nutritional Institute has continued to prosper thanks to a continued focus on innovation.

From the judges

“Medical Nutritional Institute has successfully developed new products in an environment the pharmaceutical industry has become sceptical about, and are persistent in their research and development of new and innovative products. The business has been successful in making its products credible in this sometimes cynical environment.” Ferose Oaten, entrepreneur

Jonathan Pepler

Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year


Why he won: Alternative and sustainable construction business brings an innovative building model to South Africa while driving employment.

Each year, the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year title goes to an entrepreneur whose company has excelled in the early stages of the business’s life-cycle.

This year’s winner, Silverline Group founder Jonathan Pepler, has enjoyed rapid growth thanks to the introduction of a high-performance environmentally-friendly alternative building solution not widely used in South Africa.

Silverline Group provides conventional construction services, but its real growth lies in the fact that it also offers an effective method of light-frame steel construction that produces no waste and 80% less carbon footprint than conventional building methodology.

This innovative building method also considerably reduces the time needed to construct a building. As a result, more businesses are opting to make use of this method, which allows them to start operating and making a profit much earlier than expected. A recent example of this is the new McDonald’s in Cape Town, which was able to open the outlet four months earlier than expected.

Due to the growing demand for the product, Pepler made the decision to franchise the company, making it the only franchised construction business in South Africa, and one of very few in the world. The company also provides significant support, mentorship and skills training to its more than 30 franchisees, which Pepler believes is a major factor behind the business’s success.

From the judges

“Jonathan Pepler stood out in the Emerging category due to his exceptionally well executed business idea and the enormous growth potential of the business. The building method he uses is not unique internationally, but within South Africa it is not widely used and he has set out to successfully convince the major role players in the local market to accept this building method. Banks, for instance, chose not to finance buildings constructed in this way, but Jonathan managed to convince them otherwise. Jonathan also successfully franchised his business, which enabled him to grow it into a business with a national footprint in a short space of time and without the need for a large amount of capital.” – Kobus Engelbrecht, marketing head, Sanlam Business Market

Margaret Hirsch

Lifetime Achiever AWARD


Why she won: Celebrating entrepreneurship and the mindset to create wealth and make a difference.

Margaret Hirsch, the first recipient of the Lifetime Achiever award in the history of the competition, was honoured for serving as a remarkable inspiration and role model to aspiring entrepreneurs.

The COO of national appliance store, Hirsch’s, Margaret and her husband Allan started appliance store Hirsch’s from a tiny showroom in Durban in 1979. 34 years later, Hirsch’s has grown significantly and now boasts 12 stores as well as five concept stores across the country. In addition, the company currently provides employment to approximately 785 people.

Introduced in 2013, the Lifetime Achiever Award aims to commemorate seasoned entrepreneurs who have continually contributed towards the development and growth of South African entrepreneurship. This award will not only be obtainable by future competition finalists, but also among relevant industry veterans.

According to Hirsch, this award pays tribute to entrepreneurs who have remained focused on achieving their goals, and should serve to inspire the next generation of South African entrepreneurs. “Awards such as these convey the message that there are opportunities available for those with the correct mindset to create wealth and do extremely well in our country.”

From the judges

“Hirsch’s entrepreneurial success is a powerful reminder of the fact that there are always opportunities available to entrepreneurs — even when others might only see challenges. Her life is testimony to the resilience, patience and focus that makes a good entrepreneur. Margaret is an inspiring role model to many entrepreneurs in South Africa and is a brilliant example of the type of leaders that we need to build wealth and prosperity in the country.”– Ferose Oaten, entrepreneur

Visit for more information on where and when to enter for the 2014 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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Watch List: 11 Teen Entrepreneurs Who Have Launched Successful Businesses

These teens are proving that you don’t need a driver’s licence – or the ability to vote – to create and execute a successful start-up.

Diana Albertyn



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In South Africa youth entrepreneurship is encouraged as the best way to build the economy. Teens are no longer relying on tertiary education to jumpstart their careers, as many high school students become budding entrepreneurs. From make-up to confectionary and tech-centred ventures, youth entrepreneurship is taking the business world by storm.

“It’s easier than ever to become an entrepreneur, and technology has a lot to do with it. You’re a tech-savvy millennial, and Internet and mobile technologies make it easier to connect and identify with people, based on shared values and ideals,” says Michael Freestone, founder of the MJF Group. “All entrepreneurs wonder if their companies will succeed, but you don’t really know until you try. So, do it while you’re young and have little or nothing to lose.”

And that’s exactly what teenagers across the country are doing. While being a teenager is stressful enough, without worrying about marketing and your bottom line – these young entrepreneurs thrive on success, which must be their secret sauce to their winning business ideas.

  1. Rabia Ghoor
  2. Cory Nieves
  3. Nathan Woodrow
  4. Isabella Rose Taylor
  5. Mikaila Ulmer
  6. Moziah Bridges
  7. Tony McPherson
  8. Anthony Veck and Malvin Musanhi
  9. Reabetswe Nkonyane, Phumla Mvila, and Thandokazi Mtshakazana
  10. Omphile Sekwele and Didintle Nkambule
  11. Fisokuhle Lushaba and Wendy Nkosi
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10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

The future of entrepreneurship has never looked so bright…these young entrepreneurs share their wisdom around building a successful business.

Nicole Crampton



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Natural Talent Can Become Your Success


Thabo Khumalo

Thabo Khumalo – ToVch

“I learnt to design and sew while assisting my mother who was a seamstress, and that is when I realised that I had a talent to create,” Thabo Khumalo explains. “But I never knew I was an entrepreneur.” Thabo Khumalo started his company ToVch in 2010 and has since appeared in South African Fashion Week, Soweto Fashion Week and Mpumalanga Fashion Week.

Khumalo has a small but engaged audience, who he communicates directly with. “The brand has a dedicated audience, and the social media presence also allows me to continuously scan the fashion environment to keep up with external forces.”

The Lesson

One of the most challenging aspects of launching his businesses was marketing the brand with limited funds. He used social media and word-of-mouth to market. “On social media, people share your brand with others simply because they want to,” says Khumalo. “It’s a powerful platform, and it does not cost anything.” Khumalo built up his company using support from a strong online network, which became his marketing strategy.

Read more on How Fashion Start-Up ToVch Built A Brand Presence With Only A Little Budget.

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For Founder Of National Tekkie Tax Day Having A Higher (Business) Purpose Keeps Her Driving Forward

The NGO space isn’t easy. It’s a constant uphill battle to connect scarce resources with the vulnerable. Annelise de Jager has persevered in this space because she’s tapped into her personal purpose and values.

Nadine Todd




Vital Stats

  • Player: Annelise de Jager
  • Initiative: National Tekkie Tax Day
  • Launched: 2013
  • Visit:

Use your purpose to drive you forward

Connect your purpose with what you do, and you’ll find untapped reserves of perseverance and the discipline needed to achieve your goals.

Purpose before profit is not a new concept in business. In fact, it underlines the motivations behind some of the most successful entrepreneurs. It’s also not reserved for social enterprises alone.

However, it is in the social entrepreneurship and charitable spaces that living one’s purpose first found a foothold, mostly because without a strong purpose, the work would just be too hard, and many would give up.

Annelise de Jager, founder of National Tekkie Tax Day, unpacks how she’s used living her purpose to drive her forward, even when she’s faced almost insurmountable challenges and disappointments.

Make ‘living a life that matters’ intrinsic to everything you do.

“I was lucky in that I didn’t ever need to sit down and say, ‘I want my life to matter, so I need to do x, y, z’,” says Annelise. “It was intrinsic for me. However, in the past five years I’ve become acutely aware of it, and I’ve seen how important the ability to look beyond oneself is when you’re facing disappointment and challenges.

“It helps you look beyond the now, find a solution and keep pushing on, because there is a bigger goal at stake. The biggest revelation for me has been that anyone can figure this out and use it as a tool to achieve their dreams and purpose — you just need to trigger your intrinsic motivators.

Related: ReWare Did One Crucial Thing That Most Entrepreneurs Are Too Afraid To Do

“Figure out what’s really important to you, and then align this with what you’re doing, in both your business and personal journeys. Robin Bank’s Mind Power and Shaping your Destiny courses are a great place to start.”

Don’t be afraid to ask what’s next

Critical to Annelise’s journey has been the realisation that when goals are met, we need to ask ourselves: What’s next? “Too many people achieve their goals and then feel adrift. You should meet your goals. Your ultimate vision should change. That’s growth, and it’s critical if you want to keep moving forward.

“Our experiences inform our knowledge base and world views, and so as you live and run your business, that view should be changing, bringing with it new challenges and perceptions. Don’t be scared of it; embrace it.”

Annelise went to Potchefstroom University to study social work where she joined the university’s musical revue group, the Alabama Student Company. “Alabama was given the opportunity to tour Taiwan, but I was about to graduate. Travel is high on my personal values list, so I started a second degree in communications to stay in university — and — in Alabama.”

New experiences can be the source of great ideas and strength

Studying communications opened Annelise to a new discipline that she loved. “Marketing and communications are so filled with energy — an energy social work didn’t possess. I loved both, and I wanted to find a way to meld them together. This would ultimately shape my business, The Marketing Team, after I’d been a social worker for a few years. Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans based on new experiences; they can be the source of our greatest ideas and strengths.”

Related: Reel Gardening Warns That Innovation Is Never Easy

No experience is ever wasted

“We spend too much time trying to plan exactly what we should be doing, where and when, instead of following our hearts and instincts,” says Annelise. “No experience is ever wasted. Once I discovered my love for communications, I questioned whether I’d wasted four years studying social work. I hadn’t.

“Both disciplines became the bedrock of how I would assist the charitable space in South Africa. Experiences open our eyes, our hearts, and our understanding. They give us empathy and patience. They allow us to view things from other perspectives. If you want to really make a difference in other peoples’ lives, these traits are invaluable.”

Be open to finding answers in unexpected places

“By 2004 I felt rudderless,” says Annelise. “I’d been running my own business, handling communications and marketing for NGOs, developing campaigns and even assisting NGOs to run more as businesses than under-funded organisations, but it didn’t feel like I was doing enough.

“Part of the problem was that you can only give people the tools to work with, you can’t make them use them. Another problem was under-funding. Corporates spend billions each year on CSI projects but they don’t like to fund salaries and basic operational expenses.

“It’s frustrating because volunteers can’t do what needs to be done — most households need two breadwinners, which limits the availability of volunteers to assist.

“I was looking for a way to add more value. Should I start my own NGO? Where could I make the biggest impact? I’d been offered an excellent coaching position, which would allow me to walk away from the problems this sector deals with daily. It was tempting, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

“At that time I attended the Global Day of Prayer in Argentina on behalf of a client. It was at that conference that I had an almost supernatural experience. I left knowing exactly what my purpose was.

“How these realisations come to you is less important than the fact that you’re open to them. Deep down I knew what I wanted and needed — I just needed the courage and fortitude to follow my path. My experience in Argentina gave that to me because I allowed it to.”

Always find the strength to persevere.

Nothing worth doing is ever easy. In the NGO space, this is particularly true. “I developed the idea for National Tekkie Tax Day because NGOs constantly asked me to help them develop funding campaigns. I developed this fundraising model when I launched Casual Day and ran the project successfully for 18 years.

“But I also believe the NGO space can benefit from a more unified mindset to overcome donor confusion and fatigue. This is my new focus, but it’s difficult to get organisations to shift their mindsets. National Tekkie Tax Day is a step in this direction.

“It encompasses 12 national NGOs and 1 000 regional organisations across five categories — but there’s one product and one national marketing drive. Donors can choose a category to support.

Related: How Fintech Zoona Is Solving Customers’ Real Problems

“I’ve needed to persevere to help NGOs see the benefits in working collaboratively, and corporates to see the benefits of supporting the operational costs of NGOs.

“I don’t have a high profile job at a top company. People don’t call you back in my world. And yet you need to keep pushing forward against incredible headwinds.

“I wake up each morning and repeat the mantra that my success helps everybody; my failure helps nobody. There won’t always be easy wins, but with the right purpose you can persevere. You can make a difference.”

Support National Tekkie Tax Day on 26 May 2017

12 national charities | 1 000 local charities | 5 sectors to support

Animals, Bring Hope, Children, Disability, Education

Available at Toys R Us, Clicks and Babies R Us or online at

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