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Top SA Entrepreneurial Competition Relaunched Post-Pandemic To Renew The Force Of The SME Industry

South African entrepreneurs continue to prove their mettle, despite a few harrowing years marked by persistent infrastructural issues, the ongoing energy crisis, and muted economic growth. These individuals refuse to allow these challenges to stand in the way of achieving ambitions to thrive as innovators and break into the world of business. This year, with the post-pandemic relaunch of the Business Partners Ltd Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, their unyielding resilience will once again be recognised and celebrated.

For David Morobe, spokesperson of the Business Partners Ltd Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, platforms that award local businesspeople for their achievements are pivotal in bolstering the health of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Referring to the most recent findings of the 2022 / 2023 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report, Morobe asserts that the impact of COVID19 on South African entrepreneurs has been immense.

“The early stages of the pandemic saw a rise in the proportion of adult entrepreneurs starting or running a new business, but this rate fell to just under half in 2021. Similar levels of volatility were seen in the intentions of entrepreneurs to start new businesses amidst the economic and social turbulence of the times.”

Despite these difficult odds, the local entrepreneurial community continues to demonstrate its inherent resilience, with a sense of optimism and anticipation slowly returning. According to the GEM Report, more than a third of South Africans know someone who recently started their own business and almost twice this amount consider themselves as possessing the skills and experience to do the same. Additionally, more than 3 in 5 individuals see positive prospects for starting a business, many of whom are motivated by the need to earn a living in a low employment climate, while also, ‘making a difference in the world.’

Given that entrepreneurship has the ability to drastically improve the country’s economic future, while tackling issues such as unemployment, Morobe believes that resilient entrepreneurs should be given the recognition and support they need to succeed. “We see their productive contribution as being critical to showcasing the positive character of entrepreneurship in our societies at almost every level.

“Entrepreneurship is the key to upliftment and social equality through economic activity, job creation and overall contribution to the country’s GDP. We’ve seen shining examples of this in small businesses that address the need for a more reliable power supply, the need for better service delivery and the need for safer mobility in underserved communities. Successful entrepreneurs often reinvest their profits into their communities, supporting education, healthcare, and infrastructure development, so as industry stakeholders, building a stronger entrepreneurial culture is about a broader vision.”

The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition: How it works and what’s in store for winners

The 2023 Business Partners Ltd Entrepreneur of the Year® competition aims to recognise the South African entrepreneurs who have built successful ventures and sustained operations despite the myriad of challenges that inhibit SME performance. The competition saw its 31st year in 2019 but was put on hold at the onset of the pandemic.

With its relaunch this year, Business Partners Limited hopes to bring a renewed impetus to the SME industry in a bid to revive the appetite among aspiring self-starters to put their best efforts behind getting their business off the ground. In addition, the competition will serve to help existing entrepreneurs to grow their business by identifying areas of improvement and opportunities for expansion.

The prizes for this year’s winners will total over R2 million rand, with the overall winner awarded a cash prize of R250 000 and five winners within the individual categories wining R100 000 each.

This year’s categories include: Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year, Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Medium Entrepreneur of the Year, Innovation Entrepreneur of the Year and Job Creator Entrepreneur of the Year. Winners in these categories will also be awarded a mentorship voucher worth R25 000 each, as well as a diagnostic analysis of their business, valued at R20 000 each. The competition will also award one special prize – a Lifetime Achievement Award, which was first introduced in 2013.

SA entrepreneurs encouraged to enter

Entrants can now enter via the competition’s official website, and have until 31 August 2023 to enter. The winners will be announced at an exclusive awards ceremony set to take place in November 2023.

As Morobe concludes: “The value of the competition goes beyond the cumulative worth of the immediate prizes. We aim to use the competition as a platform for networking and as a way to introduce entrepreneurs to the broader business community. Finalists and winners of the competition will be able to expand their networks and receive invaluable exposure for their businesses – enhancing the value of their offering to their customer and the society. We are excited to see the entries roll in and to gear up as we regain momentum as an industry.”