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MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge Has Been Revealed

Finalists announced in the MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge powered by Jumia.

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Following a rigorous selection process, involving more than 700 applicants from 26 countries across Africa, the top three finalists in the MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge powered by Jumia, have been revealed.

The challenge, which aims to boost entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as build a stronger and more sustainable business environment on the continent, kicked off in February, and is a joint initiative between MTN, Jumia and the MTN Solution Space based at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.

Through the entrepreneurship challenge, students were invited to develop a unique digital application or smart solution to address a problem faced in Africa. Applicants heeded the call and hundreds of original ideas covering the areas of E-Commerce Marketplaces, Education Technology, Smart Cities and Solutions, and Health Technology were received.

Over the past few weeks, the ideas were narrowed down, with 11 Live Pitch events taking place from Cameroon to South Africa, to shortlist the top candidates who will eventually pitch their business ideas at the Entrepreneurship Festival in Cape Town in May 2016.

Related: How to Write a Funding Proposal

The three finalists are:

Pass.ng (Nigeria)

Pass.ng is a web, desktop and mobile-based CBT examination preparatory and testing platform, with a vision to help candidates excel in all the major Nigerian examinations and tests.

MedRX (Ghana)

MedRx app is an interactive health platform for all users who have health needs. The app connects users to health personnel from various fields of practice including hospital, pharmacy, laboratory and academia.

Vicoba (Tanzania)

Village Community Banks (Vicoba) are an important instrument of development work, allowing people who do not have access to conventional bank accounts, to access informal investment groups. Vicoba app creates a collaborative platform that includes existing tools for financial and task management in a way that is adapted for the African market.

MTN Solution Space Manager, Sarah-Anne Arnold, congratulated the winners and commented: “Universities are resource-rich, highly networked and create opportunities for students to find like-minded co-founders and explore and develop new opportunities together, and are therefore the ideal environments to encourage entrepreneurs. This was shown by the amazing talent that emerged during the incredible week of Live Pitches which took place across campuses in 11 countries, in collaboration with partner universities and sponsors. Congratulations and best of luck to the finalists.”

The top two applications from each region were selected for the semi-finals and awarded the opportunity to undertake a short course from GetSmarter in order to build new capabilities in areas such as Search Engine Optimisation or Digital Marketing.

Related: How GetSmarter Got Smarter

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The finalists will face a panel of experienced business leaders at the Entrepreneurship Festival, where the winning team will be named. The panel includes Jeremy Hodara, co-CEO Africa Internet Group, Professor Walter Baets, Director of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, and Herman Singh, MTN Group Chief Digital Officer.

“We are incredibly impressed with the calibre of applicants and the level of innovation shown. We are looking forward to the finals and wish our contenders the best of luck. We are certain that whichever team emerges victorious, it is the continent that will be the biggest winner, as entrepreneurship and locally developed solutions are what will enable the growth and development of this continent,” says Singh.

Bankole Cardoso, the Head of Communications at Africa Internet Group added, “From the application phase, we were very impressed with the high quality business models and it was not at all easy for the judges to select from so many promising businesses. Over the last week, we have held over 100 live pitches and given young entrepreneurs across the continent a platform to showcase their business ideas and even more importantly, to receive critical feedback from experienced professionals on our judging panels. The gaps in the African entrepreneurship ecosystem are in capital and mentorship so it was great to undergo an exercise like this that will no doubt force them to improve. I now look forward to working closely with these three finalist teams to prepare them for what’s to come in Cape Town. It is an incredible opportunity for all of them to propel themselves to the next level.”

The winners will be announced at the Entrepreneurship Festival with the top team being awarded the opportunity for incubation at the premises of either the MTN Solution Space at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, or at one of 9 Jumia offices across the continent. The winner will also win a cash prize of US$25 000 towards their start-up and have access to a Facebook Start Programme to the value of US$15 000, which includes tools and services needed to build mobile applications.

MTN EC by Jumia in numbers

  • Collaborated with more than 60 universities in 13 countries in Africa
  • Over 700 applications received, including 345 videos, from 26 countries in 3 languages -English, French and Arabic
  • More than 1 000 students applied to the competition
  • Top categories are E-Commerce Marketplaces, Education Technology, Smart Cities and Health Technology
  • 11 Live Pitch events from Cameroon to South Africa, in partner universities or Jumia offices
  • Met more than 250 young entrepreneurs during Live Pitch events all over Africa
  • Top 3 countries in number of applications: Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

Infographic - MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge in numbers

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Silver Linings For Smaller Businesses In Budget 2018

Comments by Pieter Bensch, Executive Vice President, Africa & Middle East at Sage.

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As expected, the Finance Minister and Treasury have proposed some tough measures to address South Africa’s tax collection shortfall, growing budget deficit, and new spending priorities such as free education. Higher VAT, fuel levies and import duties on luxury goods will no doubt crimp consumer spending, which could be bad news for smaller businesses.

But we are pleased that the Finance Minister has raised his GDP growth projections and proposed interventions to help grow Small & Medium South African businesses. We welcome the steps government is taking to restore fiscal credibility, rein in spending, and hold off another credit ratings downgrade – it may be painful in the short term, but we should be rewarded in the longer term.

On small businesses, competition policy and market access

It was great to see the Finance Minister talk extensively about the hopes and concerns of entrepreneurs and small businesses in his Budget Speech today. We welcome his acknowledgement that low market access and high barriers to entry are constraining the growth of the country’s small businesses.

Minister Gigaba mentioned that government will take action against anti-competitive behaviour that harms these businesses.

That is a worthy goal, but we think we should also be looking more closely at how big businesses can play a constructive role in nurturing the growth of small businesses through mentoring and partnership. Small businesses are tomorrow’s customers, suppliers and employers, so it’s in everyone’s interest to grow this sector.

Related: How South African Small Business Owners Can Overcome Economic Uncertainty

On small business funding

We heard more about the R2.1 billion fund Departments of Small Businesses and Science & Technology and the National Treasury are developing to benefit small and medium enterprises during the early start-up phase. It’s good news that government is investing in innovative startups, but it’s important that the funding is spent in an efficient and productive manner. Picking winners and losers isn’t easy, so we’d like to hear more details about how government will choose to allocate this money.

On public procurement

It makes enormous sense for government to use public procurement to support black economic empowerment, industrialisation and development of small businesses. We are glad to hear that government sees its billions of rand in procurement spend as a lever to empower small business owners – we look forward to more detail about how government will enable more small and micro businesses to participate in procurement opportunities. And of course, it’s critically important that government follows through on its promise to pay small businesses within 30 days of invoicing.

Cash flow is a major challenge for small businesses and few of them can afford to wait three to six months for payment on a big project.

Related: How South Africa’s Small Businesses Plan To Invest Their Money In 2018

VAT

Most consumers and businesses have been preparing themselves for a VAT increase in this budget. As unpalatable as many people will find the one-percentage point hike in the VAT rate, it was an obvious choice for a Finance Minister wanting to raise more revenue without dampening business investment or consumer spending.

The VAT hike will take some money out of people’s pockets, but will probably have less impact on business confidence than higher corporate taxes and less impact on consumer spending than further personal tax increases.

As expected, government has preserved the zero-rated status of some staples to lessen the impact on the poor. Small & Medium Businesses will need to make sure their systems are ready to cater for the new VAT rate, but this should not be too much of a challenge for those with automated accounting systems. By international standards, VAT in South Africa is still relatively low – we can just hope that this increase is not followed by another in the next year or two.

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4 Budget Speech 2018 Outcomes To Know For Your Business

2018 Budget Speech commentary by Rob Cooper, tax expert and Director of Legislation at Sage.

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The increases to taxes across the board are less painful than I expected. The general improvement to the fiscal framework and the reduction of expenditure by R86 billion over three years seem to have gotten us over the hump – for now, in any case.

1. Personal income tax

There were no surprises as far as personal income tax (PIT) is concerned. The top 45% rate remains unchanged and tax bracket creep relief is given only to those who earn below R410 000 per annum. Bracket creep in personal income tax, along with fuel levies, offers low-hanging fruit for the Finance Minister.

Related: What It Will Really Take For South Africa’s Businesses To Scale And Create Jobs

National Health Insurance

It’s good news that the Medical Tax Credit is still with us, even if it has received a below-inflation increase. This Medical Tax Credit is relatively small – especially with this year’s low increase – but it does help to make private medical cover affordable for millions of low-income South Africans.

2. Travel reimbursements

Great news for taxpayers and employers from the Budget: Government has scrapped the 12,000km a year limitation for using the prescribed rate per kilometre to calculate travel reimbursements.  This will simplify travel reimbursement administration, but could open the door for increased levels of non-compliance in respect of travel reimbursements. On the whole, however, this will make life much easier for businesses.

Related: Silver Linings For Smaller Businesses In Budget 2018

3. Employment tax incentive

The Minister of Finance has decided that six special economic zones (SEZs) should be recognised by the ETI Act. Employers will thus be able to claim the Employment Tax Incentive for all employees working in one of these SEZs, irrespective of an employee’s age, but subject to qualification tests such as minimum wage and maximum remuneration. Outside of the SEZ, employers can only claim for the incentive for employees aged 18 to 29 years. This is a great way to generate more employment in the SEZs.

4. VAT

The VAT increase was expected and inevitable, and so were the VAT exemptions and increases to social grants the Finance Minister has applied to shield the poor from the impact of higher VAT.

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Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs Takes On 30 New Businesses

22 Women and 20 men – attended a three-day induction at Tsogo Sun’s Crowne Plaza The Rosebank hotel in Johannesburg from 31 January to 2 February.

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With new hope burgeoning throughout the South African business environment as fundamental political change sweeps through the country, the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme has inducted 42 new beneficiaries from 30 different SMMEs for a year of intense training, coaching, mentorship and support – to assist them to professionalise and grow their businesses. This brings to 242 the total number of entrepreneurs supported by the programme.

The inductees – 22 women and 20 men – attended a three-day induction at Tsogo Sun’s Crowne Plaza The Rosebank hotel  in Johannesburg from 31 January to 2 February. This represented the commencement of the programme’s 2018 development year, which incorporates the provision of customised analysis and strategic plans tailored to the specific needs of each enrolled business, business management courses provided by the University of Cape Town and facilitated by GetSmarter; Financial literacy courses through the Colour Accounting system, Microsoft Office courses, and Sales & Marketing training.  The beneficiaries are each assigned a business analyst, a financial mentor and a leadership coach who work with them to implement their business strategies throughout the year.

Related: Before Time In Soweto – The Décor Hire And Catering Entrepreneurs That Are Growing Their Business Annually

This year’s class of 2018 entrepreneurs is made up of 30 small businesses operating in provinces across six provinces in South Africa in a diverse range of market sectors that include: tourism, ICT, cleaning, professional services, manufacturing, retail, health and beauty, agriculture and secretarial and administrative services. Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun’s GM of Corporate Affairs, says “Part of the value of such a diverse group is that it creates opportunities for the businesses to trade with each other.”

She adds, “Job creation is increasingly crucial in South Africa, as unemployment has reached unprecedented levels, particularly among the youth. Through the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme, we identify and assist people running their own businesses to professionalise their operations in an effort to make them viable employers who are sustainable businesses and contributors to the growth of the country’s economy.  At the same time, we encourage them to be “conscious” consumers who procure local products and services and support each other by keeping it local and proudly South African.  We are interested in changing their approaches from “managerial” mindsets to “leadership” mindsets, and so we motivate them to be fearless in their approach to growth with purpose. The programme provides them with the skills to enhance their strategic planning and performance and the wisdom to “pay it forward” by training them to become leaders in their communities.  The role that the programme’s mentors and coaches play in instilling these values is of great significance to the achievement of our objectives.”

Belinda Francis, MD of Tych Solutions, a generalist recruitment agency based in Durban with offices in Johannesburg and Eastern Cape, was enthusiastic about joining the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme. “Tsogo Sun is an amazing brand to be associated with, but more so, having met the team at a Supplier Showcase and heard others’ success stories, I was hungry to learn more and be a part of this journey. I don’t have an active partner and so I believe this programme will help to grow and empower me and my entire team even further. I am big on empowering and developing people and small businesses – and this will certainly create the platform for me to do so.”

Related: Gemkids – From Montessori Method To Micro Enterprise

Entrepreneur Carol Mlangeni, director of Enhle Creatives Photography & Design, also based in Durban, says she was browsing the internet looking for guidance on how to resolve issues within her company when she saw a Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs advertisement – and immediately responded. “I have issues within my business and I have been looking for answers on how to resolve them and grow my business and my brand awareness – I hope to achieve this through this programme.” Mlangeni adds that her future plans include providing job opportunities for “other aspiring enthusiasts like me”.

Thato Senosi is Founder of Magauta Designs and Projects, which supplies custom-made curtains, upholstery, and furniture repairs, and is based in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni. He was introduced to Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs by his mother, Carol Senosi, who joined the programme in 2016 and was a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. He says he joined the programme because

“I believe that entrepreneurship is a science, and one needs to put together all the necessary tools and formulas to build a successful business – and this programme offers that. My expectations this year are to identify missing formulas and find solutions, to be monitored and supported, and helped to become a great version of myself so I can inspire others, because no man is an island.”

His plans for the future include starting his own textile manufacturing company and bringing industry into the township to help combat some of the social challenges in his local community.

Says Tothill, “It’s encouraging to see the growing reach of Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs throughout the country and in a diverse range of businesses, and we wish our new beneficiaries – the Class of 2018 – every success through the year as they discover new ways to develop themselves and their enterprises.”

Tsogo Sun has a portfolio of over 100 hotels and 13 casino and entertainment destinations throughout South Africa, Africa and the Seychelles. For more details, visit https://www.tsogosun.com, follow on Twitter @TsogoSun or like on Facebook /TsogoSun.

Visit the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs on Facebook: Facebook/TsogoEntrepreneurs and follow #TsogoEntrepreneurs on Twitter and Instagram.

Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs Class of 2018 with Hezron Louw

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