Greatest business plan competition ever for the Free State province: The winners
· Editorial staff
On Thursday night, 30 May 2013, at an entertaining gala awards ceremony at the President Hotel, Bloemfontein, the winners and runners-up of the 2013 Free State enterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge - the biggest ever business plan competition presented in the Free State - were announced.
Launched on 27 February 2013, the competition was organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), in partnership with the Flanders International Cooperation Agency (FICA), the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DETEA) and Seda Free State. The competition is part of the Free State SME Development Initiative implemented by the ILO in the province.
The competition set out to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship as a means to job creation in the Free State and was sponsored by companies such as Microsoft, Harmony, PETCO, Blue Pencil, AxisWorkgroup and Pendulum Visual Communication, a local Bloemfontein based firm.
Other organisations working towards successful entrepreneurship, such as the Black Management Forum, Mangaung Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut and the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, were quick to endorse the competition and will be offering mentoring to selected winners and runners-up. The Central University of Technology hosted the launch of the competition and the University of the Free State training workshops and the final judging event. .
The aim of the enterPRIZE Job Creation Challenge was to enhance the growth of emerging, new and established entrepreneurs in the process of setting up or expanding their business. Entrepreneurs were encouraged to focus on where they can fill gaps in the market and seize unexploited or underexploited market opportunities. Entrepreneurs were invited to “think out of the box” and be innovative.
In so doing, the idea was to support the development of a considerable number of SMEs and to support job creation in the province. The Free State SME Development Initiative has a goal of creating at least 5 000 decent jobs in the province and the competition is one of several means towards achieving this goal. The shorter-term outcomes are promoting a more entrepreneurial mindset among young men and women, a more enabling environment for SME development and the availability of more demand driven business development services for SMEs.
In the course of the competition, altogether 10 workshops were held throughout the Free State to assist entrepreneurs in entering the competition, after which 549 entries were received. A short listing was done during the first two weeks of May and 85 people were shortlisted for a training session on how to revise and present their business plan to a panel of judges on 22 May. The winner and runners-up in the 14 different categories were then announced. Each category had a first prize, a second prize and a third prize. A total of 43 prizes were awarded.
Cash prizes ranged from R 225 000 to R 50 000 for the 43 winners and runners-up. In addition an MBA and short courses in leadership and executive management were offered by the Business School at the UFS along with courses in farm management, budgeting and cash flow management by the UFS agricultural department. Petco awarded bailing machines and equipment to waste recycling businesses at a value of R 500 000 and Microsoft offered selected businesses a membership to their BizSpark program at a value of R 100 000 per business totaling value of more than R 1 000 000. Gramercy Millennium Development Group of Africa, a venture capital company, will be offering venture capital advice to all winners. Blue Pencil will be coaching winners along with AHI, BMF, MCCI and NAFCOC,
The categories of the competition included agribusiness, construction, ICT, social entrepreneurship, tourism and waste recycling. Prizes were also awarded to the best young entrepreneur, best woman entrepreneur, best start-up business, best emerging entrepreneur, best new entrepreneur, best established entrepreneur, most innovative business and best green business.
At the awards ceremony on 30 May, Mr Vic van Vuuren, director of the ILO Southern Africa, highlighted the importance of the competition for the ILO as a way to create more decent jobs in the Free State province. Mr David Maenaut, Head of the Flemish Delegation to South Africa and the main donor, praised the ILO and partners for an excellent competition. The keynote address was given by Mr Ikhraam Osman, HOD of the DETEA, who acknowledge the partnership with the ILO and FICA and the efforts to also mobilize private sector actors in a true public-private-partnership thereby leveraging more support for business development and employment creation.
Mr Jens Dyring Christensen, the ILO Chief Technical Advisor and leader of the competition organising team commented: “We want this competition to become an annual event and we want to challenge and inspire more entrepreneurs in the years to come to step up to the challenge and find ways to create more jobs in the province.”
On pages 8-9 of this edition the full results of the 2013 competition as announced on 30 May, are published.
To be notified of the 2014 competition, register on the website www.enterprizejobchallenge.co.za.