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Now in its 31st year, the Entrepreneur of the Year competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners has built up a solid reputation of attracting and celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship.

Following a gruelling preliminary round, a shortlist of 15 standout entrants has made it through to the final round of the competition’s 2019 edition.

Gugu Mjadu, the competition’s spokesperson, says that it was encouraging to see an increase in the number of entries in a year that has been particularly challenging from an economic perspective. “With the economy having shrunk by 3.2% in the first three months of the year, we were thrilled to see the overall number of entrants increase by 13% from last year.

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“Considering the already significant contribution that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make towards our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and job creation, this uptick in entrepreneurial entrants provides a glimmer of hope that some business owners are still managing to steer their businesses to success, in spite of South Africa’s slow economic recovery,” she said.

Mjadu highlights that the 15 finalists operate across various different sectors throughout South Africa.

“This year’s finalists – the majority of which originate from Gauteng (60%) and the Western Cape (33%) – represent a wider range of industries, from finance and accounting to fashion and viticulture.”

In alphabetical order, the finalists are:

  • Andrew Weinberg and John Shaw – Retail Engage;
  • Anne-Marie Pretorius, Seugnet van den Berg and Jessica Tandy - Bizmod Consulting;
  • Carmen Stevens - Carmen Stevens Wines;
  • Cikizwa Nekile - Indima Hr Consulting;
  • Lyle Malander – Malander;
  • Mario Roos and Hayley Roos - LighTec (Pty) Ltd;
  • Mike Sharman and Shaka Sisulu - Retroviral Online Branding;
  • Ouma Tema – Plus Fab;
  • Perri King and Taryn Sharman - Faith and Fear;
  • Shantelle Booysen - Elim Spa Products International;
  • Siyabulela Mandla - Rhino Plastic;
  • Theo Baloyi - Bathu Swag; Uzair Essack - F And E Distributors;
  • Wynand Geldenhuys - Vectra Business Technologies; and
  • Yana Vergie - Wired Earth Technologies.

Find out more about each of the finalists here.

Following an independent judging process, one of these deserving finalists will be named the overall 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year winner, said Mjadu.

She added: “We will also announce winners for each of the five categories, namely emerging, small business, medium business, job creator and innovator of the year. By running the evaluation process through three different filtering stages, we are able to ensure that every finalist is put under the microscope to avoid any human error or bias from tainting the results.”

In addition to the prestigious titles, Mjadu revealed that prizes worth R2 million are up for grabs at the awards ceremony. “Each of the five category winners will walk away with R70,000, and the overall winner will get R200,000.

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Mjadu noted: “Beyond monetary prizes, however, previous finalists have benefitted greatly from the mentorship, various networking opportunities and associated media exposure that the competition offers. 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 4 September 2019 at the official awards event in Johannesburg.

“We look forward to watching this year’s competition play out and would like to thank all finalists, as they are the resilient individuals who the country can count on to bring about positive economic change at a time when the country needs it most,” she concluded.