All The Winners From This Year's EOY Competition
Africa Biomass Company, Iyeza Health and Zenzele Fitness Group are among the big winners
Itumeleng (Tumi) Phake, founder and owner of Zenzele Fitness Group
The annual Entrepreneur of the Year competition sponsored by Sanlam and business partners, has announced this year’s six winners at an awards ceremony held this morning in Johannesburg.
The event saw Willem van der Merwe, owner of Africa Biomass Company, receiving the coveted title of this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Africa Biomass Company (ABC), specialises in land clearing, wood chipping, and wood recycling.
Speaking at the event, spokesperson for the competition, Christo Botes, says that while selecting one entrepreneur to be the overall winner was no easy task – especially given the exceptionally high standard of this year’s finalists – van der Merwe was a notch above the rest in terms of the raw entrepreneurial nature of his business.
"Through the establishment of Africa Biomass Company (ABC) – Willem [van der Merwe] has not only created a successful business by clearing landowners' unwanted trees, he has also shaped a new industry in South Africa by introducing the novel concept of wood recycling," he says.
With the exception of the overall winner, black business owners dominated this year's awards.
Botes says they are delighted with the increase in black entrepreneurs entering the competition and attribute some of it to a robust advertising campaign, particularly in areas like Kwa Zulu Natal, and on mediums like radio and social media. Botes adds that they hope seeing a diverse range of entrepreneurs being celebrated will inspire even more young entrepreneurs.
The 5 2017 category winners are:
2017 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year: Sizwe Nzima and Siraaj Adams, owners of Iyeza Health. Having started as a bicycle delivery company that delivered chronic medication from health clinics in Khayelitisha to patients’ homes in the township, Iyeza Group has evolved into a health logistics company with a wide array of capabilities.
Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year: Itumeleng Phake, founder and owner of Zenzele Fitness Group. Zenzele Fitness Group is a dynamic fitness and wellness company that is making health and fitness more accessible to South Africans in middle and lower LSM groups.
Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year: Nomfundo Mcoyi, founder and owner of Icebolethu Group. Established as Icebolethu Funerals in 2009 as a funeral parlour, with a complement of just five staff members, the business has evolved into a prominent funeral services conglomerate with international presence and around 300 employees.
Job Creator of the Year: Siphiwe Ngcobo, owner and founder of iLawu Hospitality Group. Founded in 2009 as a humble five-bedroom B&B in Pietermaritzburg, iLawu Hospitality Group has since expanded to become one of the well-recognised hospitality and catering brands in KwaZulu-Natal, providing countless jobs to the community.
Innovator of the Year: Mpodumo Doubada, founder and owner of Pimp My Book. Pimp my Book, an ever-growing chain of campus stores across the country, was founded in 2006 on the simple premise of buying and selling used textbooks and making them significantly more affordable to students.
Now in its 29th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year competition provides prizes worth R2 million.
Each of the five category winners received R60 000, and the overall winner received R160 000, towards further growing their businesses.
Beyond these monetary prizes, Botes adds that each winner will also receive valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and associated marketing and national media exposure to further drive their business’ success.
"Past winners have also gone on to win other prominent national and international awards and form valuable partnerships as a result of their success in the competition."