Entrepreneurship, it’s far beyond meetings at coffee shops, sleek silver grey PCs and colourful socks, it’s a design that’s a function of human-centred solutions and banking on the market in the gap. And, in most emerging markets like Africa and Asia, small and medium businesses contribute a large portion to not only a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but also in alleviating social ills like unemployment and limited access to affordable healthcare. And no business can operate as an island; access to markets, capital investment and capabilities are just some of the tools needed to operate and scale a business, something that the Entrepreneur of the Year® (EOY) Awards offers and enables.
What is Entrepreneur of Year Awards?
Proudly sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, the Entrepreneur of the Year® Awards is an annual competition that recognises and honours small and medium enterprises in South Africa who are innovative in their businesses, and create not only profitable businesses, but enterprises of social and economic impact. The competition invites esteemed entrepreneurs, investors and veterans in business like Matsi Modise and David Morobe to judge this notable competition, and uses various filtering processes to mitigate bias and error.
So, what’s in it for Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS in investing in such a platform? “We’ve been in business for over 38 years and understand that entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. As such, we created the competition as a platform to acknowledge the efforts made by business owners to assure them that they are on the right track and to link them with other entrepreneurs for networking and business opportunities,” says Gugu Mjadu, Spokesperson for the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS.
Gugu adds that the awards were also introduced with the aim to contribute towards stimulating entrepreneurial activity in the country. “We want aspiring entrepreneurs to look at the EOY award winners and believe that it is possible to achieve success and wealth via entrepreneurship,” she adds.
What Access to Market?
With so many competitions, events and awards in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, it can be difficult to track the impact and progress of the capital that the entrepreneurs receive from these organisations. According to the SME Landscape Report An Assessment of South Africa’s SME Landscape: Challenges, Opportunities, Risks & Next Steps’ 2018/2019, it was revealed that almost 52% of entrepreneurs care and prioritize about access to market than anything else for their businesses and also need assistance in access, especially small and medium business, using this is a springboard to enabling their companies to scale.
But what is Access to Market? And how does it enable small and medium businesses to thrive? Market access is the conditions and measures set by countries to enable or to restrict transactions and trade of their products. These conditions for small and medium enterprises are also upheld by the bureaucracy that exists in both public and private sectors, at times making it difficult for the smaller players to get a piece of the market share. This is why, more than ever, it’s important for big players like Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS to enable market access, through either their own market or with the financial capital that is up for grabs in this year’s awards.
EOY's Strategy for Entrepreneurship Access in South Africa
“Take 2017 Innovator of the Year® winner and owner of Pimp my Book, Mpodumo Doubada – he says the direct spin-off from the EOY awards was a far more positive reception from various universities and corporates – who had heard about their company through the media and became a little more open to trying their innovative approach. Post winning, he also opened a new store in Pretoria, signed on more than 1000 new bursary students to their bursary division. The best part is that their revenue has grown by 40% since winning the award. ” says Gugu.
Through the awards and its objective to get the entrepreneurs to build and grow a successful business, the entrepreneurs get an opportunity to leverage social networking and capital, this, with fellow entrepreneurs and credible business experts who carry insights in industries of interest. Winners also have the added advantage of receiving formal mentorship or technical assistance as one of their prizes which they can use to develop tactics for accessing markets.
Adoption Strategy for your Business
So, whether it’s the prizes to the total value of R2 million which include cash prizes of R500 000, expanding networks, receiving media and mentorship exposure, it’s important that not only you just enter the EOY Awards, but to also enter it with clarity of why and how it can benefit the scaling of the development of your business.
Entries close on 31st of May, so don’t forget to submit your applications by visiting www.eoy.co.za
It was after a much needed catch up with my mentor, over some lunch where education was the theme of the few hours we spent building the trust of the relationship and updating each other on what was new and how we could continue building each other and our ecosystems. It was intimidating to sit down with an accomplished, educated and intelligent woman, but I’m glad the tough conversation was had. It was one of the keys that led me to making a decision that was about opening up to being more, experiencing more and living more – getting out of my own way.
I was going to go back to school to obtain my under graduate degree, 6 years post matriculating from high school. Besides the reasons mentioned above, the two other motivations was the value that I know education has the potential to add to my professional and personal life, and this was also a promise that I had made to my father before he passed away.
So why did I wait 6 years to pursue my under graduate qualification? I’ve got very good reasons and excuses which were very good delay tactics, please see below:
· Pending …
- · My application was unsuccessful in two universities through past
- · I was just really lazy and afraid to start all over again
- · I didn’t think I still had it in me, curriculums and times change – insecurity’s timing is perfect. It’s a good thing that it was no measure for faith!
- · I didn’t want to save for the course because I enjoyed being careless with my money, and I didn’t know that my company had a study assistance policy
· You get my drift …
After many dress rehearsals with myself and my mother, close friends, mentors and sponsors, I decided to get over myself and begin the journey, I enrolled.
- 1. Picking the Qualification
After I finally had plucked up the courage to sit on the University of South Africa (UNISA) website, I went through the qualifications that appeared not only intimidating, but relevant for the future of corporate innovation, startups and strategic partnerships through data and modelling in preparing or the current and future economic and industrial revolutions. The data led me to BCOM Business Informatics qualification. The modules looked relevant to the objective of my desire to go back to school. I applied and got accepted. I was extremely nervous and happy at the opportunity to become a better employee and a corporate innovation practitioner.
- 2. Preparing for the Qualification
I was accepted, so what was next?
I had been accepted and found out about my company policy, but because of the university administration and a strike that happened, I was late to apply which meant that the money had to come out of my own pocket. Because I had been intentional about going back to school, I had saved up a couple of thousands of rands, and my mother was also a gem and made an investment in my first semester, that helped. The cost of studying is high, if I were to advise someone on going back who has no financial aid, it would be to starting saving yesterday, a little does go a long way.
I also had to be transparent and disclose the decision to my manager, this so that should time come needed for studying and exam time (quite a few UNISA tutorials are on Saturdays), it would be no issue.
- 3. Doing the Course
You’re going to war, so strategize!
· Prepare a Timetable - To be honest, what’s really helped is having this timetable saved as my phone screensaver and putting in alarms on my phones. Be nice to yourself and schedule in a night off during the week.
· A Strong Ecosystem - Get yourself some considerate and supportive friends who will understand when you cannot go out (time and money) because of the current investment you’re making. In the long run, this will also
· Work Smarter – If you get an assignment that aligned to the theme that you’re already doing at work, or as a side hustle, complement the two and kills as many birds as you can with the assignment stone.
· Be Kind to Yourself – By this I not only mean spa days and popping a bottle of champagne when you’ve aced that exam, but eating better and taking that digital detox when necessary because the stress can manifest in pimples and headaches.
It’s been a tough few months, I won’t lie. To be honest, there was a period where I’d given myself one week off studying because I was just lazy to, even with the grace of my alarms attempt at reminding me only to be snoozed until it stopped. The truth is that you know you and your behaviour better than any tips that I could give you, and the reason of you going back to school fulltime or part time should be motivation enough.
Congratulations to us on taking the step to go back to being educated and seeing its value in our lives, and may continue to pursue by preparing and being ready to participate in our destinies.