Now in its 29th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners has built up a stellar reputation of attracting and celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship. Following a tough preliminary round, a shortlist of 15 standout entrants has made it through to the final round of the 2017 edition of the competition.
Kobus Engelbrecht, the competition’s spokesperson, says that while the overall number of entries saw a slight decline this year, the calibre and level of diversity exhibited by the 2017 entry pool was outstanding. “The judging panel was extremely impressed with the quality of this year’s entrants and was particularly pleased about the rising number of promising black businesses being showcased in this year’s selection of finalists, making up 60% of the entries that are through to the final round.”
The 15 finalists also operate across various different sectors throughout South Africa, says Engelbrecht. “This year’s finalists – the majority of which originate from Gauteng (53%) and the Western Cape (33%) –represent a widespread range of industries, from funeral and fiduciary services to fashion and fitness.
“We would like to thank and congratulate each and every entrant, as these are the individuals who bring about positive change and fuel job growth – something that is particularly pertinent at present, given that South Africa’s unemployment rate is at a 13-year high,” Engelbrecht adds.
In no specific order, the finalists are:
Pepe Marais and Gareth Leck – Joe Public United
Pepe Marais and Gareth Leck, based in Gauteng, are the entrepreneurial duo behind Joe Public – one of the largest independent, 100% South African owned advertising groups in the country.
Nelisiwe Magubane and Corrie Van Der Wath – Matleng Energy Solutions
Gauteng-based Matleng Energy Solutions is a South African black woman owned company led by Nelisiwe Magubane, in association with Corrie van der Wath, which strives to solve clients’ energy related challenges through the effective implementation of new and/or existing technologies. Matleng Energy Solutions is a finalist in the competition for the second consecutive year.
Jacques Groblaar – Stadium Management SA
Formed in 2008 by Jacques Groblaar, SMSA has become the “Gold Standard” in the field of full risk stadium and venue management in Southern Africa and currently manages FNB, Orlando, Dobsonville and Rand Stadiums on behalf of the City of Johannesburg.
Nomfundo Mcoyi – Icebolethu Group
Icebolethu was founded by Nomfundo Mcoyi in 2009, motivated by the need for a reputable funeral service provider that caters for all. Today, Icebolethu has 43 branches in and around the KZN region.
Willem Van Der Merwe – Africa Biomass Company
Established in 2004 by finalist Willem Van Der Merwe, Western Cape-based Africa Biomass is a wood chipping company that found the solution to the disposal of waste wood.
Mpodumo Doubada – Pimp My Book
Cape Town-based Mpodumo Doubada founded Pimp My Book, a chain of campus stores, in 2006 at the University of Cape Town and has since grown to serve the students of the University of South Africa, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the University of the Western Cape, the University of Stellenbosch, the University of Free State and the University of Johannesburg.
Shamil Ismail – Primaresearch
Formed in October 2015 by Shamil Ismail, Western Cape-based Primaresearch is an independent, sell-side, equity research firm that focuses on consumer-facing companies, servicing roughly 40 clients, including some of the largest fund managers in SA.
Joe Hamman – Novus Group
Founded in 2014 by Joe Hamman and located in the eastern suburbs of Johannesburg, Novus Group is a privately owned and operated business that specialises in providing media monitoring and media analysis services
Siphiwe Ngcobo – ilawu Hospitality Group
One of the fastest growing accommodation and catering companies in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, iLawu Hospitality Group was founded in 2009 by Siphiwe Ngcobo.
Itumeleng (Tumi) Phake – Zenzele Fitness Group
A former banker with seven years’ experience in investment and banking, Tumi Phake is the founder of Zenzele Fitness Group, a fitness and wellness company that operates 10 gym facilities across South Africa.
Malesela Rachel (Ouma) Tema – Plus-Fab
Geared towards the fashion savvy, modern day plus size woman who is looking for fashion that not only fits but accentuate her curves, Ouma Tema’s Plus-Fab – emerging out of Gauteng – is a fashion and lifestyle brand for fuller figured women.
Siraaj Adams and Sizwe Nzima – Iyeza Group
Having started as a company that delivered chronic medication from health clinics in Khayelitsha in Cape Town to patients’ homes in the township by using a bicycle as the only means of transportation, Siraaj Adams’ Iyeza Group has evolved into a Health logistics company with a wide array of capabilities.
Dirk Coetzee and Merwe Moelich – Dirk Coetzee & Associates
Western Cape-based Dirk Coetzee & Associates offer various tax and accounting services to SMEs and Individuals, but specialise in the fiduciary industry, with the submission of income tax returns for deceased estates and trusts making up the core of their work.
Refilwe Marumo – Mighty Comms
Refilwe Marumo from Gauteng is the founder of Mighty Comms, a 100% black woman owned South African Company which has carved a niche in the South African ICT sector.
Lindy Scott – Conceptual Eyes
Gauteng-based Lindy Scott is the woman behind Conceptual Eyes, a creative agency specialising in internal communication for large labour employers.
Engelbrecht explains that one of these deserving finalists will be named the overall 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® winner. The next step in the process will be the awards ceremony, which will also include announcing winners for the categories of emerging business, small business, medium business, job creator and innovator of the year.”
In addition to the prestigious titles, Engelbrecht says that prizes worth R2 million are up for grabs at the awards ceremony. “Each of the five category winners will walk away with R60 000, and the overall winner will get R160 000.
“Beyond monetary prizes, previous finalists have benefitted greatly from the competition’s various networking opportunities and associated exposure. Past winners have also gone on to win international awards and form valuable partnerships as a result of their success in the competition.”
Winners will be announced on 6 September 2017 at the official awards breakfast in Johannesburg. “We eagerly await the final stages of this year’s competition and wish all the finalists the best of luck,” concludes Engelbrecht.