Entrepreneur competition top five heading for the finish line

The five finalists in an entrepreneur competition run by coworking operator The Workspace and MiWay business insurance have been chosen.

One more workshop, the workshop for the final five followed by the contestants’ last chance to pitch their businesses, and then the winner will be announced on 13 September 2018.

The finalists are cloud based loyalty management platform and app for SMEs, Loyal 1; finance solution company, Matla Risk Management; events and catering business Sindi’s Best for All; mining tech integration partner, Dwyka Mining Services; and Minatlou Trading 251, supplier of general and women-specific protective personal equipment/clothing.

CEO of The Workspace, Mari Schourie, said it was vital to support and recognise entrepreneurs and small businesses as a prerequisite to growing South Africa’s economy. While competitions such as this helped give emerging businesses a leg up, it also fell to corporates and consumers to do their bit too.

Phakiso Tsotetsi – entrepreneur, Ambassador of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and co-founder of the Hookup Dinner and one of the judges – said a pitch-readiness workshop helped whittle down the top 10 and deciding the top five businesses.

“It helped the entrepreneurs in developing concise, repeatable sales pitches for their businesses, which afforded them the opportunity to get closer to being chosen into the top five,” he said. “As it stands we are very excited about the decision we have made and looking forward to the rest of the journey in this competition,” he said.

The workshops and pitch interventions have been invaluable, personally and professionally.

What the finalists said

“Personally I have grown in self-confidence,” said Mpho Mpatane, managing director of Minatlou Trading 251. “I’ve learned I should learn to listen more and be open to learning from other people's experiences. Business wise, I have learned how to pitch better so that my value proposition is clearer and is more attractive to possible investors. I have learned that I have much to learn from my peers and I can get business from my peers as well. We can procure business from each other and start improving our skills and expertise.”

Mpho Mpatane, Minatlou Trading

Dwyka Mining Services’ Rethabile Letlala said the competition has been a “rather uncomfortable yet extremely exciting experience overall. I was forced to confront my public speaking insecurities and even more, learn how to enjoy it and use my own personality to influence and improve my presentations”, he said. “Entrepreneurs are the true drivers of the economy. Competitions like this not only give entrepreneurs a chance to grow, but plainly the confidence to know that they are noticed, they are making a difference. That affirmation alone is all that someone needs to keep pushing and working towards their dream.”

Rethabile Letlala, Dwyka Mining Services

Thabo Moodie, who runs Matla Risk Management, said he’d learnt how to structure his pitch. “It’s much more crisp and precise. You may have a lot to say and you may know about your product and service, but knowing how to translate that to your potential investor or partner is crucial,” he said.

Thabo Moodie, Matla Risk Management

Besides being an invaluable networking opportunity, the entrepreneur competitions such as this one help entrepreneurs get an edge on the bigger competition, said Sindi’s Best for All founder, Sindiswa Beverly Gqogqonyeka.  “When we are groomed and mentored correctly at an early stage of a business, our success rate becomes higher as we end up knowing what good business practices are. And then we can become profitable,” she said.

Sindiswa Gqogqonyeka, Sindi’s Best for All

Loyal 1 creator, Tshireletso 'TY’ Hlangwane, said he had been given the opportunity to learn from judges, as well as a shot at prizes that would help grow his business and become a “well-oiled machine”. “Many entrepreneurs in South Africa need such skills in order to improve the business and grow their businesses,” he added.

Tshireletso Hlangwane, Loyal 1

The prizes

The prize, worth over R350 000, includes 12 months free office space for up to four people at The Workspace’s Village Road premises, free Wi-Fi, free phone rental, free business insurance and business advice, as well as all risk equipment insurance, free tea and coffee, free usage of meeting and board rooms, free security and 24-hour access, free parking and a new laptop.

There’s also a brand new responsive design website and content management system plus training in how to keep digital collateral updated; a share portfolio from Opulentus Wealth and a complete brand communication strategy and two strategic sessions from Oxigen Communications worth over R50 000.

Beyers Müller, a judge and CFO of the Intespace Group, said The WorkSpace and MiWay Entrepreneur Competition was a great initiative that “showcases the hunger and spirit of up and coming entrepreneurs in South Africa. I’m thrilled to see how every entrepreneur is a broker between ideas and resources”.