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 SA winner announced for competition acknowledging aspiring young entrepreneurs

 

 The national winner for the 2013 Business Partners Limited / SME Toolkit SA Global Entrepreneurship Week's Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs was last night announced at an awards ceremony held in Johannesburg.

The title was awarded to Janine Williams (24) of Cape Town, who outshone 240 fellow entrants from across South Africa to secure the accolade. Williams, a Certified Financial Accountant, hopes to establish her own accounting practice in the near future, which will offer various business services, including bookkeeping, tax and accounting services and the drafting of financial statements.

Now in its 4th year, the competition, which is open to entrepreneurs between the age of 18 and 35, aims to have a positive impact on aspiring and promising South African entrepreneurs by bridging the gap between simply having an idea, to actually launching a start-up business.

This year, for the first time, the competition expanded nationally across the country and 20 selected entrants from various region, including rural areas, were invited to attend a regional one-day business workshop to learn the intricacies of compiling a business and marketing plan, as well as how to manage the many functions of operating a business. Each entrant was then required to submit a business plan, based on the knowledge learnt, before five regional winners were selected to be considered for the national title.

According to Pierre Mey, Executive General Manager – Support Services at Business Partners Limited, the competition strives to discover aspiring young entrepreneurs that demonstrate strengths in the necessary skills, technical ability, experience and knowledge in terms of the industry, and encourage these youngsters to fulfil their entrepreneurial dreams.

“Too many entrepreneurs fall through the cracks in South Africa and entrepreneurial awards platforms such as this are crucial to recognising and developing influential entrepreneurs.”

Mey explains that the judges considered three key areas, namely business skills and whether, with mentoring, the entrepreneur could apply their expertise to the specific business, industry risk and if the business plan addressed these risks, and lastly, if the business plan and financial projections were realistic and achievable.

He says Williams was awarded the overall title due to an exceptionally well presented business plan that touched on all of the essential elements needed to take her idea from plan to business. This was especially seen in the due attention she gave the financial aspects of the business. Not only was the plan detailed and well thought out, the business concept itself is practical, making the business plan one which could quickly be implemented.

Williams says that she had literally being flying high all day, given that yesterday was also her first time on an aeroplane. “When they called my name as the winner, I was really shocked at first and then of course really happy. I currently have a day job three days a week, which provides me with a fixed income, and then I work on my business the other two days a week and after hours, so I already have some clients. Now that I have won, I hope to be fully self-employed in a few months from now.”

The four other regional winners / finalists for the national award, include:

  • Sifiso Masango, regional winner from Johannesburg, who aspires to open a wash-n-go carwash facility;
  • Dudley Field, regional winner from Pretoria, who aims to establish an extreme adventure centre that provides inter alia programmes, as well as a petting zoo for children and a conference centre;
  • Durban based regional winner, Hlengiwe Zulu, who wants to develop a Zulu Cultural Village and Lodge in Durban;
  • Port Elizabeth regional winner, Azola Gqwabaza, who intends to establish an Internet Café in his hometown of rural Qumbu to provide online and office services to the community, especially for students who are far removed from the bigger towns and cities.

Mey says it is fitting that the awards ceremony is held during Global Entrepreneurship Week, a global initiative which celebrates entrepreneurs who bring ideas to life and drive economic growth. “This competition aims to provide a platform for the country’s many young and ambitious entrepreneurs who have the courage and determination, yet lack the means and assistance of how to establish their business ideas.”

Each regional winner received a R5 000 mentorship voucher from Business Partners Limited at the regional events and the overall winner also received an additional R10 000 mentorship voucher, a Samsung tablet, a cash prize of R20 000 sponsored by Business Partners Limited, as well as subscriptions to SMEasy Accounting sponsored by SMEasy.co.za, 6-month subscription to Bizlify, an online business building tool sponsored by Milestone Ventures, and a gift sponsored by IBM.

He says that all winners are encouraged to use the mentorship to its full potential. “A mentor offers invaluable assistance and will guide entrepreneurs on their business journey by showing the potential pitfalls and the corrective action that needs to be taken. It is therefore crucial that the entrepreneurs harness the skills of experienced business and professional people to support them in successfully establishing and growing their business,” concludes Mey.


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