The entrepreneurial spirit and tenacity of small business leaders in KwaZulu-Natal was celebrated at the 2018 Business Achievers Awards gala ceremony in Durban last night (28 March 2018).
Hosted by the Ithala Development Finance Corporation, the awards recognise business achievements and excellence, their contribution to job creation and the growth of the province’s economy.
Eight out of 16 nominees, all Ithala clients from the agriculture, franchise, media, tourism and logistics services sectors and hailing from places as far as Pongola, Newcastle and Kokstad, were selected as winners, earning prize money for their businesses and a charity of their choice.
Winners in each category are selected on the basis of their business sustainability, growth, job creation, community development, entrepreneurial flair and innovation.
“We initiated the Ithala Business Achiever Awards project to recognize and reward existing Ithala clients in their role of developing an entrepreneurial province.
“In selecting the finalists for the awards, we nominated key clients who epitomise a spirit of entrepreneurship, have a good track record of financial performance, have made an impact in their community and demonstrated innovation and personal integrity,” said Ithala acting Group Chief Executive, Thembe Mathe.
The Ithala Development Finance Corporation aims to be a catalyst for economic development and empowerment. As a committed responsible financial services provider, we offer financial and non-financial support to viable businesses to help them grow and advance.
“We are mandated to deliver development and empowerment solutions and encourage participation in all sectors of the economy, including and especially disadvantaged communities through employment creation, skills transfer and training.
“The Business Achievers Awards 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.
“Over the past three years, Ithala has loaned R878, 600 000 (R878,6 million) 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, which further re-affirms our commitment towards SMME’s and cooperative development, especially amongst the youth and women of this province,” he said.
The judging process was stringent with external independent adjudicators from the Durban Chamber of Commerce and the Ethekwini Municipality Business Support Unit ensuring impartiality. Shortlisted clients were provided with the interview questions a week before the interview so that they could be well prepared for the final judging.
Five category award winners each received R30 000 plus R5000 for charity.
- Logistical Services Business of the Year: Thamsanqa Ngcobo of Umlalazi Trading – a business started by taxi owners who got together to form a bus transport co-operative. They started out with a fleet of eight buses which has expanded to 12 buses.
- Franchise Business of the Year: Muziwethu Shinga of Majestic King Fast Foods – his good business sense has seen him expand to three franchises (Debonaires outlets located in Umlazi at Mega City Mall, Philani Valley and KwaMnyandu Mall) with a total staff of 72 and good operating systems in place. His Mega City Debonaires store has just recently been awarded the 2nd position for the most profitable store nationally.
- Micro Business of the Year: Zaba Ngubane of Logoman Designs – for passionate involvement in his business which specialises in graphic design and printing. He has a shop in Mega City shopping centre in Umlazi and currently employs nine youths in his store.
- Agriculture Business of the Year: Bhekuyise Magwaza of Ngqobeni Farm – for his hands-on involvement in his business for over 16 years. He has also started a co-op that specialises in harvesting and haulage of sugarcane in the KwaDukuza area. He currently employs 15 permanent staff with 60 seasonal workers. He is also extremely passionate about assisting other local farmers and he currently offers free mentorship support to local KwaDukuza farmers who are benefiting from his years of experience in the sugarcane farming business.
- Tourism and Hospitality Business of the Year: Mlungisi Nzuza from Nongoma. He owns three lodges – Nongoma Inn, Nongoma Lodge and Mbazwana Inn. He currently employs 47 permanent employs. He is extremely passionate about the hospitality industry and would like to own his very own hotel to rival the Southern Suns’ of this world.
The overall winner who took away the Entrepreneur of the Year title and R100 000 plus R10 000 for charity was Phumulani Ngwenya owner of Siyanda Stationery trading as Kwalala Lodge.
Born and bred in Pongola Ngwenya grew up selling boiled eggs and sweet potato at school. This entrepreneurial spirit and an eye for business saw him filling the needs of his community, opening a crèche and later a stationery shop. He then branched into the tourism industry with a B&B with Kwalala Lodge, Magugu Lodge and Crocodile Creek Lodge, all which are based in Pongola. He is also involved in property development where he owns six commercial properties which he is currently leasing out.
This year’s special award for the Most Promising Young Entrepreneur of the Year went to Sabelo Buthelezi owner of Limco Logistic.
He started his business in 2012 with two trucks and within six months he expanded his fleet to five trucks. He has since increased his number of employees from five to 13 and his business is growing.
Buthelezi was the only young entrepreneur to be nominated for these awards and the judges believed that this would bear testimony to the critical role Ithala plays in youth business development.
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