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SA’s Top Entrepreneurs Recognised At 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® Competition

South Africa’s premier annual entrepreneurial competition, Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, has named Johan Eksteen, second-time finalist and owner of Agricon, as the overall winner of the 2016 competition in Johannesburg this morning.

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Speaking at the event, spokesperson for the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners, Gugu Mjadu says that Eksteen was selected as the overall 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® winner due to his strong entrepreneurial attitude and the remarkable growth and expansion that his business has exhibited since first entering the competition two years ago.

“Since being named a finalist in the 2014 competition, Agricon has not only expanded and experienced rapid growth in turnover, but has also made improvements in its business processes which have contributed to its growth,” says Mjadu.

She adds that the high calibre of business acumen and entrepreneurial talent of the finalists this year made it no easy task for the judging panel to decide on six category winners from the 15 deserving entrepreneurs who were selected to advance to the final round of judging.

Related: The Unique Challenges Of Senior Entrepreneurship

Other 2016 category winners include:

2016 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year®: Vanessa Jacobs, founder and owner of Sow Delicious

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Sow Delicious® is an edible gardening store, whose easy-to-grow vegetable and herb Slab of Seed® invention is making edible gardening more accessible for the ordinary, non-gardener consumer. sowdelicious.co.za

2016 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Meisie Nkosi, owner of Bella Bonni Guest House

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Four star graded Bella Bonni Guest House, based in eMalahleni (Witbank) and encompassing 18 rooms, has managed to stand the test of time during challenging economic conditions since opening its doors in 2006. bellabonni.co.za

Related: The Important Entrepreneurship Lesson From Jessica Alba And Sarah Michelle Gellar

2016 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®: Carl Pretorius, founder and owner of Just Trees

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Recognised for its economically strong, yet environmentally friendly business practices, Just Trees is a wholesale tree nursery that supplies specimen container grown trees to the trade throughout South Africa, as well as to certain export markets. justtrees.co.za

2016 Job Creator of the Year®: Michael Roberts, owner and founder of Khonology

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Founded in 2013 in a response to skills shortages in the South African technology sector, Khonology has played a significant role in bridging the gap between academia and corporate expectations for graduates entering the workforce by equipping them with vital technological and financial skills. www.khonology.com 

2016 Innovator of the Year®: Stacey Brewer and Ryan Harrison, co-founders of SPARK Schools

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SPARK Schools is a network of primary schools dedicated to delivering sustainable, affordable and high quality education by using a blended learning programme, which combines traditional classroom teaching and online learning, to individualise education for all students. sparkschools.co.za

Now in its 28th year, the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners aims to honour, recognise and uplift South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by providing a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their achievements and elevate their business profiles – as well as their profits.

Related: Is Entrepreneurship Dying In SA

Mjadu says that given the current job market and economic landscape, now more than ever, South Africa needs to rally behind and support local entrepreneurs.

“Given South Africa’s high unemployment rate of 26.6%, the country needs to promote entrepreneurship and support its main job creators – local entrepreneurs. Agile by nature, entrepreneurs are eternal optimists and will continue to see opportunity rather than challenges when faced with adversity.

“The 2016 group of 15 finalists have created 1071 job opportunities. This is just a small handful of South Africa’s many entrepreneurs. The more we recognise our local economic heroes, the more we can inspire other individuals to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey,” says Mjadu.

The competition provides prizes worth R2 million, with the overall winner receiving a cash prize of R150 000 and the other category winners receiving R50 000 each. Each winner also receives diagnostic analysis of their businesses coupled with valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and associated marketing and national media exposure to further drive their business’ success. Mjadu says that while the cash prize is always valuable to a business, the true value in the entrepreneurial platform lies in the networking opportunities secured through the competition’s network.

Mjadu concludes that the success of this year’s winners is testament to the thriving level of entrepreneurial talent and success present in the country.

“In addition to celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship, we hope that this impressive group of winners will inspire others to succeed in the competitive and innovative world of business.”

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Win A Business Makeover With Retail Capital To The Value Of R250 000

Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000.

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Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000. During the summer campaign, SMEs are encouraged to share the vision of how they would like to see their business grow, and led by a team of experts, Retail Capital will work with the winning SME to help make their vision come true.

While South Africa’s economy is not faring well, Retail Capital CEO Karl Westvig remains optimistic about the country’s retail and hospitality sectors. “We are seeing some green shoots, with an increase in turnover in these sectors – starting from the end of September. Economic conditions remain very tough, but businesses seem to be trading well into October and we’re hoping this continues into the festive season trading.”

According to recent statistics from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), South Africa’s retail sales rose by 5.5% year-on-year in August 2017, following a downwardly revised 1.6% gain in the previous month and above market expectations of 2.3%. It is the biggest gain in retail trade since August of 2012.

Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance

“I do believe that these sectors will see an improvement during the summer season. But, key to this will be for small business owners to ensure that they have the right amount of stock, adequate cash flow, as well as other systems in place to meet the ever-changing needs of customers,” says Westvig.

For many small businesses, however, continually adapting to market changes requires cash injections that they don’t often have.

The prize includes the following:

  • Business plan/consulting
  • Marketing strategy
  • Design and branding
  • Website and social Media and,
  • R50k capital to gear your business.

Westvig explains that the summer campaign tagline ‘Your Vision. Our Belief’ really speaks to why Retail Capital first opened its doors. “Our goal is to see the potential of small businesses and to work with them in making these become a reality.”

He adds that the idea is not to simply help one business during the campaign either. Westvig points out that one of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in the sluggish economy is enough foot traffic through their doors. “Generally, the main hurdle in creating brand awareness and projecting credibility of their establishments boils down to establishing a strong online presence.”

“One of the first ways that South Africans identify a business or service provider that they want to work with is over social media – even in a country where the digital divide has traditionally separated the technological haves from the have-nots,” he says.

He explains that companies that don’t have a social media presence are running the risk of being overlooked entirely. “They may attract customers in their own community with signage or word of mouth, but to grow a business, they need to expand their reach – and that’s where social media comes in.”

But, the reality is that resource and time constraints mean that for many SMEs, social media is not prioritised. “Unfortunately for the average small business owner, they don’t have the time or expertise to get connected.”

Understanding the importance of having an online presence, Retail Capital has also committed to developing the digital presence of all campaign entrants. This would include setting up each entrant’s digital presence on platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor, Zomato and any others that may be relevant to their specific market or industry.

“As a partner to many SMEs in South Africa, we are continually looking at new and innovative ways to help provide them with the much-needed support in order for them to realise their visions. SMEs need to be supported with initiatives like targeted education and training, supportive legislation, and funding opportunities that collectively help them grow our national economy,” says Westvig.

Related: 6 Great Tips For A Successful Shark Tank Pitch

Who we are and what we do:

“More than R1.25 billion has been extended to a range of businesses including food trucks, hair salons, restaurants, spas and franchised retail stores. Many of these businesses have not been able to raise funding in any other way, other than to go to unscrupulous lenders,”says Karl Westvig, the CEO Retail Capital, a company that provides working capital with the help of innovative lending technology.

“We have also estimated that for every R160 000 we lend, we create a new job. This means that 625 jobs have been created purely by enabling small businesses to get the funding they need for working capital requirements or expansion opportunities.”

Retail Capital’s system, which enables it to advance funding to small businesses, based on real time information on credit card transactions, is providing a new funding alternative to entrepreneurs who have previously been turned away by banks. Because it is able to get actual sales information, it can approve funding immediately, and allow for flexible repayment options based on sales cycles of the particular businesses it is funding.

“This creates significant opportunity for small business owners to focus on their business and grow volumes or look for expansion opportunities rather than spend their time frantically trying to repay debt or keep the business alive after debt repayments have eaten away at any cash reserves they might have had.”

Retail Capital funding is repaid by it taking a percentage of a business’s recorded credit or debit card sales, with repayments fluctuating in line with their business cycle. This has the effect of ensuring that it isn’t overburdened with debt.

“In the past six years since starting the business, small businesses have had the benefit of R1 billion in funding they would have been unable to get through traditional channels,”says Westvig.

Against the backdrop of recessionary conditions in South Africa, Retail Capital’s client information reveals growth in informal sector turnover across a number of industries.

“We believe that growth in the informal sector is outstripping that of the formal sector,”says Westvig.

As a large proportion of the businesses it funds are women- and black-owned, there is evidence that entrepreneurs who have previously been excluded from access to finance are now enjoying success now that their access to finance problem has been solved.

Win A Business Makeover with Retail Capital

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How Investors Can Take Advantage Of The Rand’s Currency Trading Rates

Negative sentiment is likely to be pervasive with the SA economy, and it will take more than a new figurehead in government to right the wrongs of a mismanaged economy.

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The USD/ZAR currency pair is trading in the 13.65 range heading into mid-December 2017. Over the past year, the 52-week low was 12.3126, and the 52-week high was 14.5742. As one of the more volatile currencies in the trading spectrum, the ZAR is closely associated with the political shenanigans taking place in South Africa.

The year to date return for the currency pair is -0.50%, after having started 2017 at 13.7351. Much of the activity taking place with the ZAR is speculative. Futures contracts are largely responsible for the whipsaw movements in prices.

Wilkins Finance strategists stress the importance of credit ratings agencies on currencies:

‘Whenever credit ratings agencies such as Moody’s and Fitch downgrade their assessments of the South African economy, this has a negative impact on the ZAR. The impact is not always predictable however – towards the end of November 2017, the USD/ZAR had appreciated after the recent ratings downgrade of the economy.’

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded South Africa’s economy to a rating of Baa3. This is the lowest rating level for Moody’s. Further ratings will be announced in February next year. Fitch has already downgraded the foreign currency and local currency to BB +, but has offered a stable Outlook for the ZAR.

Related: The Business Of Anxiety In Business: Giving Heroes Permission To Feel Vulnerable

That S&P also downgraded the South African economy to sub-investment grade is an important decision, and one that will have negative ramifications for the South African bonds market. Now, the Barclays Global Bond Index will no longer feature South African bonds. That South Africa’s bond market will be excluded from the World Government Bond Index will also be a bugbear to any hopes of the ZAR appreciating.

Interest Rates in the South African Economy

The South African interest rate is highly attractive to foreign investors, given that the UK, US, Canada, Japan, and European bank rates are at historic lows. There is little to be gained by investing cash in fixed-interest-bearing securities in these economies. The current interest rate in South Africa is 6.75% (as at November 23, 2017). The interest rate has dropped to expand economic activity in the country.

Overall, South Africa’s inflation rate for the year is expected to remain at 5.3% dropping to 5.2% in 2018 and rising to 5.5% by 2019. Global investors remain concerned about the risk/reward environment in South Africa. The country has experienced significant capital outflows in recent years, driven in large part by uncertainty regarding future prospects. The USD/ZAR was trading at 14.60 in late November, and current ZAR strength is being attributed to USD weakness.

Related: Offshore Business Opportunities Abound For South African ‘Oldpreneurs’

Factors on Both Sides of the Atlantic

One of the major economic events affecting exchange rates will be the reconciliation of the House and Senate bills on US tax legislation. Any major overhaul of the US tax code will invariably result in a dramatically boosted USD, and a weakened ZAR. For traders, it appears to be short-term call options on the local currency and long-term call options on the USD.

It is evident that currency traders are hedging against the ZAR over the long-term. The fundamentals of the economy are structurally unstable. The power grid infrastructure, water supply problems, and political instability at the highest echelons are but a few of the many problems plaguing South African growth prospects.

However, the ZAR will draw strength from the election of a credible leader, and this will be particularly noteworthy with Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment. Overall, negative sentiment is likely to be pervasive with the SA economy, and it will take more than a new figurehead in government to right the wrongs of a mismanaged economy.

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