IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, Business Partners, and IBM South Africa today announced the winners of the inaugural Young Entrepreneur Business Plan Competition, which supports and rewards talented young South Africans, helping them reach their business goals.
Three winners were selected from a large number of high-quality entries by judges from IFC, IBM, and Business Partners. Applicants registered for the competition using the IFC supported SME Toolkit, an interactive, online tool that supports small business owners and managers in a range of core business areas.
The competition winners, chosen from six finalists, and their businesses are:
• Ntobeka Bonyana - Embo Environmental Solutions, which offers a range of environmental solutions including renewable energy, effluent treatment, alternative building technology, waste water treatment and hazardous waste management.
• Thandanani Khoza – Solaris, which installs and maintains solar water heaters. Services include installing and servicing solar geysers.
• Siphiwe Ntuli - Universal Car Mat Manufacturers, which aims to provide durable and customized car mats to the automotive industry and to create a fund to help young students further their studies.
One of the winners, Siphiwe Ntuli, a 31-year-old from Soweto, said, “Being part of this competition has really helped me understand my business much better and the mentoring and support I will now receive will definitely help me develop as an entrepreneur and help me reach my goals.”
Saleem Karimjee, IFC Country Manager for South Africa, said, “This competition has highlighted the incredible depth of talent and the strong entrepreneurial spirit that exists in South Africa. I congratulate the winners and hope that all applicants will realize their business dreams. IFC is proud to support such innovative businessmen and women.”
The three winners were honored at a gala awards evening that coincided with Global Entrepreneurship Week. They received prizes including 10,000 rand Business Partners mentorship vouchers, and laptops.
IFC runs a number of investment and advisory services programs across sub-Saharan Africa that support the growth of smaller businesses, helping them more easily access training and financing. Last fiscal year ending June 30, IFC dedicated more than $400 million in Africa to projects that strengthen micro, small and medium enterprises.
The SME Toolkit offers instruction in topics including accounting and finance; business planning; human resources; legal and insurance; marketing and sales; operations; and information technology. It receives an average of more than 20,000 visitors monthly in South Africa.