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The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition

The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, is an annual competition that recognises and honours South African entrepreneurs in the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector. The competition celebrates excellence in entrepreneurship with the aim to inspire others to venture into and succeed in the world of business.

The Entrepreneur of the Year® initiative is not just about the competition. It is about:​

  • Developing the standard of excellence in entrepreneurship throughout South Africa;
  • Promoting entrepreneurial excellence as the norm and not the exception;
  • Promoting entrepreneurship as an honourable and rewarding yet challenging career;
  • Educating entrepreneurs so that they reach a standard of excellence;
  • Educating the youth about what entrepreneurship entails with the aim of encouraging them to select entrepreneurship as a viable career option;
  • Influencing government legislation by being the voice of entrepreneurs in order to create a healthy regulatory environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive.

To enter, entrepreneurs can complete the entry form available on www.eoy.co.za during the year. The competition closes on 31 May annually. ​​

  
Description
  

Finalists stand the chance to win prizes worth a total value of R2 million, which includes cash prizes of R500 000. Finalists and winners receive mentorship vouchers and are able to expand their networks and receive invaluable exposure for their businesses as a result of the competition. ​

  

​The judging process is completely independent and is led by the judging panel comprising five judges. The judges represent different areas of the business community. The evaluation process runs through three different filtering processes, which ensure that all entries are checked and rechecked to remove human error and subjectivity.

The data requested also gives the judges very important and critical information which they need in order to make a complete and holistic judgment on the candidate being reviewed. The judging process is completed by an interview with each finalist to ensure that any questions or issues needing clarity are addressed. An on-site visit at the businesses may also be conducted.

  

Entrepreneurs who enter may be considered for the following categories in the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition:

Emerging Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur who has been in their present business for a maximum of three years and with a turnover not exceeding R5 million on the date the entry form is received by the steering committee.

Small Business Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur who runs a business, irrespective of length of time during which it has been active, with a turnover of between R5 million and R30 million in the tax year immediately preceding the date of entering the competition.

Medium Business Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur who runs a business, irrespective of the length of time during which it has been active, with a turnover of more than R30 million in the tax year immediately preceding the date of entering the competition. The controlling owner must be stated.

Job Creator of the Year

An entrepreneur who not only employs a significant number of employees, but also plays a key role in uplifting, up-skilling and training them. They contribute towards making a dent in the unemployment rate of the community, area, province and country where the business is situated.

Innovator of the Year

An entrepreneur who has:

  • Reinvented the way business is done in his/her industry; and/or
  • Been innovative in the product or service being offered to the market; and/or
  • Found a way of drawing the best qualified and technical people in his/her industry and kept them by creating a special environment where employees can flourish.

Two additional Entrepreneur of the Year® award categories can be awarded at the discretion of the judging panel, namely:

Lifetime Achiever

An established entrepreneur who has made great strides in their business over many years. The steering committee proactively sources finalists for the Lifetime Achiever award category with the judges selecting the final winner.

Judges Prize

A category to acknowledge a business that may not yet be at the same level of the other entrepreneurs (in terms of size and turnover), but makes an impression on the judges due to aspects such as  the business's social impact, the entrepreneur's attitude and positive entrepreneurial outlook.

Entrepreneur of the Year®

The overall winner is selected out of the emerging, small, or medium categories.