20 October 2003
Cape Town-based Roth Medical Components was declared the top small business in Africa at the first Africa SMME Awards function held in Johannesburg this month.
South Africa’s First Lady, Zanele Mbeki, presented the awards to the winners at a glittering ceremony interspersed with African dance items and attended by 240 people from all over the continent.
The Africa SMME Awards, an initiative of the Africa Centre for Investment Analysis (ACIA) at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, is set to become an annual highlight on the Africa development calendar.
The awards formed part of the Conference on Africa Development Finance, a well established event presented for the fifth time by the ACIA.
The evening was in no way a predominantly South African event, as the best small, medium and micro enterprises from all corners of the continent showed their mettle.
Other Africa SMME Award winners were Nineteen Twenties Safaris from Kenya (tourism sector and East African winner), Enda inter arabe (open category and North African winner), Groupement National de Nutrition (West African winner), Intermap (information and communications technology), Tropical Mushroom (agriculture), Peter Harley Construction (construction), and ABC Ulwazi (education, training and consulting).
Barrie Terblanche, editor of BigNews for the Business Owner, a South African national newspaper for SMMEs, was chosen as the Africa SMME Journalist of the Year. The judges were impressed in particular by Terblanche’s objective and informed style of writing.
“Judging by the entries we received from all over the continent, we certainly seem to have captured the imagination of African entrepreneurs,” said ACIA head Nicholas Biekpe. “This sector needs all the encouragement it can get,” he said, adding the awards “marked the start of a new level of inter-enterprise competition”.
Businesses that enter the awards are expected to be well established, in good financial shape and enjoy a reputation for quality, integrity and service. Furthermore, they should operate in a socially responsible manner, support community development efforts, and create a work environment in which their employees can learn and grow.
According to the judges, Roth Medical Components came out tops in the competition because of the high quality and reputation of its products produced for the medical industry. Furthermore, the business is built on solid business principles and has established itself as a world leader in orthopaedic niche products.
The company exported its products for the first time in 1994, and has since grown its export market to more than 40 countries.
The sponsors that made the Africa SMME Awards a reality were Xstrata, which sponsored the prize of the overall SMME winner, K-Rep Consulting from Kenya, Ashanti Goldfields from Ghana, Woolworths, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Western Cape Tourism Board, Barloworld, Educor, the University of Stellenbosch Business School, and the International Institute for Communication and Development.