More than 6 500 small businesses entered this year’s South Africa Small Business Awards. While there are still challenges faced, many have learnt valuable lessons in perseverance.
The National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) announced the Top 20 winners plus five special award winners at Montecasino in Johannesburg on 10 November 2016.
This is the eighth year that the South African Small Business Awards looks to acknowledge South Africa’s most outstanding businesses and the exceptional people behind them.
More than 6 500 entries in 10 business sectors were received for this year’s awards. Winners and nominees have started businesses in sectors as diverse as beauty and engineering, transportation, education, music and retail operations.
The five winners of the special category awards are:
2016 National Small Business Champion is Sassy Chic (Roxanne Page);
2016 National Entrepreneur Champion is Calvin Mathibeli (Calvin and Family Group);
2016 National Woman in Business Champion is Vino Govender (LA Consulting Engineers);
2016 National Skills Development Award is Eco Furniture Design (Tameron Haralambous);
2016 National Innovation Award Little is Green Number (Juanita van der Merwe).
— NSBC South Africa (@NSBCSouthAfrica) November 10, 2016
— Adams & Adams (@AdamsAdamslaw) November 10, 2016
Calvin Mathibeli started a small biz in 2005 to pay for varsity fees. Today he won the National Entrepreneur Award #SmallBizAwardsSA
— Tennille Taylor (@teethatsall) November 10, 2016
For the entrepreneurs in attendance, doing good work while running their business has become the maxim they live by.
In her speech, Tameron Haralambous of Eco Furniture Design said her reward at the end of the day is being able to make a difference in people’s lives.
Juanita van der Merwe of the Little Green Number, another winner said: “You can do good through business, not just do good business.”
Building strategies forward
Mike Anderson, founder and chief executive officer of the NSBC, said he didn’t want any runner-ups for the competition this year. “If you are a runner-up, it’s almost as if you have lost. Every one of the [6 502] participants who entered are winners.”
He added: “Small business is challenging. Everyone taking a risk is a winner.”
Anderson also gave insight to the NSBC’s challenges and highlights this year. “The challenge is seeing small businesses go out of business. This means a family goes out of business.”
He said that they are trying to help small business owners with strategies. “The highlights of the year are seeing growth and small business owners becoming job creators.”
Anderson also spoke about the survey they had done with the NSBC’s members. Currently, the NSBC has a base of 106 000 small medium enterprises and 50 big brands as national partners. “Everything we do is based on our findings.”
The most concerning findings in the survey is small business owners’ inability to build a customer base and to boost sales. “Access to funding is also a problem.”
He said that they are working towards bringing strategies forward to help the entrepreneurs.
Anderson’s advice to entrepreneurs was: “Keep innovating. Keep doing something different, be different.
“Embrace failure. To me, failure is everything in our path to success.”
Anderson also launched the initiative Think beyond a job on Thursday. This initiative aims to encourage entrepreneurship and its focus is millennials.
Some of the winners shared a few tips to success:
Roxanne Page of the online retail company Sassy Chic said their business is about local designs and giving scope to local talent. The website has been live since 2012.
Her business partner (also her mother) won the best female entrepreneur award last year at the South African E-Commerce Awards.
Page shared the following: “It’s important to persevere, to keep doing what you are doing, day by day, bit by bit each day.”
About marketing she said: “Online is the way to go. We have a brand ambassador and we also make use of bloggers. Never be afraid to experiment, especially on a small budget.”
Sivis Pillay is founder and director of Xabisa Human Capital Solutions, a human resources consulting firm. Her business was registered in 2012.
Xabisa Human Capital Solutions prides itself in doing things like formal recruitment and hosting graduate development team programmes for their clients. “We encourage our corporate clients to host these programmes, then we facilitate it. This creates employment opportunities for graduates,” she said.
“We’re passionate about creating employment opportunities.”
She added: “From every programme, we give up to 10% to an underprivileged home.”
Xabisa Human Capital Solutions also hosts free CV writing and interviewing skills to grade 12s every year.
When she started out as a business owner, she called up directors to set up meetings with key people. That is how she got clients. She added: “Networking also helps.”
The list of the Top 20 winners
Sassy Chic (Roxanne Page)
Eco Furniture Design (Tameron Haralambous)
Shift One Digital (Dylan Kohlstadt)
Yoco (Katlego Maphai)
Xabisa Human Capital Solutions (Sivis Pillay)
Myteksonic (Jonathan Kgatshe)
Calvin and Family Group (Calvin Mathibeli)
Gabsten Technologies (Iniel Dreyer)
Setsmol Enterprise (Solly MolefeSchoaro)
Old School Cool (Tiffini Wissing Hein)
TFS Holdings (Dwayne Malcom)
LA Consulting Engineers (Vino Govender)
Karl De Leau Natural Skincare (Karel Vermeulen)
Little Green Number (Juanita van der Merwe)
Nkazimulo Applied Sciences (Bathabile Mpofu)
Arrero Premium Car Perfume (Lizelle Beukes)
Lets Collaborate (Veronique Palmer)
McD Squared (Lizelle Mcdermott)
The Supremacy Group (Carien van Dijk)
The Pianoman (Raymond Cugnolio)
The 2016 awards are sponsored by Adams & Adams, First National Bank, DHL, and World Famous Events, all of which have a vested interest in the growth and development of small business in South Africa.
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