An annual project to recognize and reward clients for their role in developing an entrepreneurial province will culminate in an awards ceremony that celebrates business achievements later this month.
Ithala Development Finance Corporation, KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial development agency, will host the 2018 Business Achiever Awards on 28 March at Coastlands on the Ridge in Musgrave, Durban.
Fifteen clients from various sectors including agriculture, franchise, medical, tourism and the logistical services sector – and from as far as Pongola, Newcastle and Kokstad – will compete for the coveted title of “Business Achiever of the Year”.
“We have nominated clients who epitomise a spirit of entrepreneurship; have a good track record of financial performance; made an impact in their community and demonstrated innovation and personal integrity,” said Ithala Acting Group Chief Executive, Themba Mathe.
Ithala’s Business Finance unit plays a catalytic role in facilitating the development and empowerment of KZN-based SMME’s and co-operatives whilst also taking seriously its commitment to be a responsible financial services provider. The agency provides financial and non-financial support to viable businesses to enable their growth and advancement.
The initiative complements government’s efforts to address the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment and achieve the goals set out in the National Development Plan through the implementation of radical socio-economic transformation.
“Small businesses need to thrive as they are an important lever to create jobs and grow the economy inclusively.
Mhlonipheni Joseph Zulu of Siyawisa Hlathi, a timber harvesting and loading company and Business Achiever Award nominee, which supplies Mondi in Richards Bay reflected on his entrepreneurial journey.
“We have been operating for 11 years. It has been a long, difficult journey. When I started out I had very limited financial resources and the strain of the business began to take a toll on my health. There was a point when I was wheelchair bound. I took a leap of faith and decided to apply for finance at Ithala so that I could buy two tractors. My application was successful and I now have this crucial piece of equipment which has made things so much easier.”
On being nominated he said, “I am very happy to be recognised by Ithala and this nomination is proof that I am indeed making a notable difference in my community. I want the business to continue growing to a point where even when I am no longer here, it will still be in full operation. I would like to thank Ithala – the bank for the people which has helped many ordinary people pursue their business interests and I can only hope that this will continue.”
Thamsanqa Ngcobo of Mlalazi Trading, a logistics company that operates in Eshowe and Umgungundlovu, offers commuter services to the public in the form bus transportation.
“We have been in business for seven years. I started out in the taxi industry. When the government implemented transformation policies in various sectors of the economy, I acquired shares in a local bus company. The first buses we used were leased until my application for funding at Ithala was successful and I was able to purchase nine buses.
“I am thrilled to be nominated in the Business Achievers Awards. I would still like to improve our facilities further and buy more equipment. Thank you Ithala for always ensuring that my business is cared for. I had nothing but now the business continues to grow.”
Zaba Ngubane of Logoman Designs, a company that focuses on branding, graphic and web design, signage and printing said: “We have been in business for eight years. The long journey has required a lot of patience but my passion for the business has carried me through the toughest of times. Ithala has been there for me every step of the way. They are like family. I have used Ithala’s services several times and we have a mutually beneficial working relationship.
“The nomination has encouraged me to grow in this entrepreneurial journey. I would like to invest more in the business and hopefully even purchase a vehicle for our signage. The business is growing and we require more resources to be able to meet the demand,” he said.
Sifiso Mahlalela of Overine 235 CC which offers radiology services in Newcastle said: “I started my business six years ago. My lifelong passion for this industry sustains me. It took a long time to fully establish this business and it has been a constant learning experience. When I received finance from Ithala, I was able to expand the business by opening our second branch which was really great.
“My nomination for the Business Achiever Awards was quite unexpected. I hope that my business continues to grow as I wish to purchase new equipment. I am most grateful to Ithala for all the support.”
The “Entrepreneur of the Year” will bag a R100 000 cash prize plus an additional R10 000 to donate to a charity of his/her choice. Category award winners will each receive R30 000 and “Special Awards” recipients will each receive R10 000.
Over the past three years, Ithala has disbursed R878 600 000 to nearly 700 businesses, resulting in over 8 000 jobs being created. Of these, 28% are women-owned businesses and young people comprise nearly 40% of those on Ithala’s loan book.