Article by Melissa Javan (Brand South Africa)
Small businesses were recognised for their contribution to the economy and employment at the 2017 Top 20 Small Business and Entrepreneurship Award on 9 November 2017, held at Randlords in Johannesburg. The ninth annual awards were hosted by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) in association with World Famous Events.
Said Mike Anderson, founder and CEO of the NSBC: “We are astounded at the diversity of entrants this year, but equally encouraged as it shows the depth and breadth of South Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit.”
He said growing small and medium businesses was vital to the local economy and its ever-growing rate of unemployment. “This type of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit will undoubtedly cultivate a much healthier business landscape for all involved.”
There were no runners-up – no second place nor third place. Everyone in the Top 20 went home a winner, he said.
Access to funding and finding the right technology were challenges for small business, but the winners of the award were people with perseverance, passion and persistence, Anderson said. “We look at where they come from, the obstacles they’ve overcome and how they have arrived.”
There were special categories for several of the Top 20 winners:
2017 National Small Business Champion
2017 National Entrepreneur Champion and 2017 Innovation Award
2017 National Woman in Business Champion
2017 National Young Entrepreneur Champion
2017 National Franchisor Award
2017 National Tourism Award
2017 National Start-up Award
Entrepreneurs’ success stories
Chauke, founder of the marketing and brand consulting company DNA Brand Architects, started his business five years ago, running it solo. Today, he has a team of 34.
He didn’t take the win lightly, saying: “We are honoured. I hope it inspires my team more.”
Young entrepreneurs also got some advice. “It’s possible to achieve a lot in a short period provided you bring all you have got to it. It’s not easy, but just keep bringing what you have got,” Chauke said.
Samantha Adams, from Athlone in Cape Town, runs Helping Hands Academy. It gives on-site first aid training.
Adams started her business in 2014, offering free workshops. She now sells her services to corporates and gives training at primary schools. From a single-person business, her team has grown to ten volunteers and three first aid instructors.
Phillipa Geard, founder of RecruitMyMom, runs a website that connects job-seeking mothers with employers. There were 43,000 women and 3,000 employers registered on her site, Geard said of her five-year-old business. The mothers advertised services such as administration and accounting on the site.
“As an entrepreneur it’s tough and lonely at times but it’s a wonderful journey. I dedicate this award to the women on my site. I value the NSBC for these awards – we can take stock of what we do, especially since there’s always so much to be done.”
Janesha Govender of Feed It Forward said her non-profit organisation worked with a company in Sandton to give 250 meals once a week in Alexandra, in northern Johannesburg. Launched on Mandela Day this year, it had already distributed 2,500 meals.
Feed It Forward provided a technology-based, logistical solution, said Govender. Companies often had a lot of meals left over, so instead of throwing good food away, Feed It Forward took it to people in impoverished areas such as Alexandra. “Our medium-term goal is to distribute 1,000 meals a day in Alexandra.”