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Hundreds of budding, local entrepreneurs submitted their business plans for their dream ventures in entering the much-anticipated 2023 SME Toolkit South Africa Business Plan Competition. Now in its 14th year, the competition is aimed at providing a platform of recognition for aspiring business owners as well as the tools and training they need to access the market. In the end, it was Calab Baloyi of Nossa Sunflower Oil who clinched the title of this year’s winner along with R50 000 in cash and access to mentorship valued at a further R50 000.

Success stories to celebrate

As part of his broader agro-processing company, Tshemba-Ntsako projects, Baloyi’s new brand, Nossa Sunflower Oil is an organic vegetable oil produced in Orange Farm, a township located just outside of Johannesburg. In just over two years since he lost his job due layoffs attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic, Baloyi has succeeded in leveraging his natural aptitude for entrepreneurship and his hunger for new opportunities in creating a fully-fledged small business that he is confident will “Change the game in the townships of Gauteng.”

This year’s first runner-up was Eersterust-based Marlon Morgan, proud owner of Drip n Dry Deep Cleaning – a laundromat and upholstery cleaning service operating in the City of Tshwane. Morgan walked away with R30 000 in cash as well as a mentorship experience valued at R30 000.

Second runner-up was Mogau Maredi, the founder of interior design and production company, MC Rugs, who has demonstrated exceptional creativity and innovation in ‘transforming spaces into homes.’ He was awarded a cash prize of R20 000 and a mentorship voucher worth R20 000.

An initiative of upliftment

The SME Toolkit SA Business Plan competition is an initiative by specialist small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) financier, Business Partners Limited, through leveraging its entrepreneurship content engine, the SME Toolkit SA. The Business Plan competition aimed at providing entrepreneurs with much-needed information, support services, and access to broader networks within the SME sector, has become a flagship event on the aspirant entrepreneurs’ calendar.

Commenting on the exceptional calibre of this year’s finalists as well as the outstanding performance of the winners, is David Morobe, Executive General Manager for Impact Investing at Business Partners Limited. As he explains: “This year’s competition saw an influx of bright minds – individuals who were ready and willing to do what it takes to overcome hurdles and build successful enterprises that can stand the test of time.

Just looking at the 8 finalists, it’s easy to understand why the judging process was as rigorous as it was – there were so many promising and inspiring prospects to consider. Calab Baloyi, however, has demonstrated unyielding consistency and a drive to succeed that really set him apart. Our two runners-up also exemplified the resilience that has become synonymous with what it takes to succeed in business as a South African. Well done and congratulations to them all.”

All eight of this year’s finalists were awarded a laptop, courtesy of Business Partners Limited. The 5 finalists who did not progress into the deciding round, also received a mentorship voucher worth R10 000, which will provide access to expert advice, guidance and networking opportunities.

Benchmarking entrepreneurial talent in SA

One of the speakers at this year’s awards ceremony was the 2022 Business Plan Competition’s first runner-up and Managing Director of ChemKhowa, Cindy Mkwanazi, who shared her business journey over the last year. Her brand, ChemKhowa, is a local producer of high-quality cleaning products that are safe for household use and the environment.

Since becoming a runner-up, she has gone on to win the title of Manufacturing Founder of the Year in the 2023 Under 30 in the Sub-African Region SHE Awards. ChemKhowa is now a fully recognised manufacturing lab that is registered with Proudly South African and is in the process of supplying Makro Online.

“I will remain forever grateful for those who have acted as partners in helping me turn opportunities into steppingstones. They have been a source of great strength and hope in times when I’ve felt like giving up. I wish to congratulate the finalists and winners and encourage them to push on towards their goals and use this experience as the next big step as business owners,” she said.

As Morobe concludes: “We are confident that the finalists in this year’s competition will go onto become the next generation of entrepreneurs who will continue to build and fortify the sector. This competition contributes towards a bigger picture – one that addresses challenges such as unemployment, economic inclusion and social empowerment. We are honoured to be a part of working towards those greater goals as a collective.”

About the Author: David Morobe

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David Morobe is our Executive General Manager for Impact Investing. He has been working with small and medium business entrepreneurs for more than 25 years and has amassed considerable experience from the various positions he has occupied. Even after working with entrepreneurs for so many years, David still appreciates the opportunity to be of service to their needs, recognising that they play a very important role in the socio-economic development of our country. His greatest fulfilment is seeing SMEs grow and sustain both in good and challenging times, thereby creating wealth not only for themselves but also for those in their employ. He is our go-to-spokesperson for our SME Confidence Index, SME sector policy and trend matters, mentorship, and business leadership articles.