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SA’s best entrepreneurs announced in premier entrepreneurial competition
Willem van der Merwe of Africa Biomass Company - the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year®
Johannesburg, 06 September 2017: Following a gruelling judging process and assessment of 15 successful finalists, South Africa’s premier annual entrepreneurial competition, 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®.
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) – which specialises in land clearing, wood chipping, and wood recycling – 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.
The five 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. www.iyezahealth.co.za
- 2017 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. www.zenzelefitness.co.za
- 2017 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. www.icebolethugroup.co.za
- 2017 Job Creator of the Year®: Siphiwe Ngcobo, owner and founder of iLawu Hospitality Group. Founded in 2009 as a humble five-bedroomed 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. www.ilawugroup.co.za/
- 2017 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. www.pimpmybook.co.za
Now in its 29th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners 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.”
Additional information pasted below in email:
- Profiles on winner and why they were select: see ‘related links’
- Video's of each finalist's entrepreneurial journey: see 'related video'
- Images of each winner: see 'related photos'
- Images taken at the awards ceremony will follow in a seperate email shortly.
Should you require additional information or an interview with a winner, we would be happy to arrange.
- Willem van der Merwe, owner of Africa Biomass Company: South Africa’s leading entrepreneur - 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year®
- Mpodumo Doubada, founder and owner of Pimp My Book: Student-centric business named Innovator of the Year® in national entrepreneurial competition
- Nomfundo Mcoyi, founder and owner of Icebolethu Group: Holistic funeral service provider named Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®
- Siphiwe Ngcobo, owner and founder of iLawu Hospitality Group: Determined hospitality entrepreneur named Job Creator of the Year®
- Itumeleng Phake, founder and owner of Zenzele Fitness Group: Young fitness maverick makes big strides in entrepreneurial competition
- Sizwe Nzima and Siraaj Adams, owners of Iyeza Health: Trailblazing health logistics duo awarded emerging Entrepreneur of the Year® title
About Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS:
The Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS aims to honour, benefit and uplift South African SMEs. Now in its 29th year, the competition celebrates excellence in entrepreneurship, serving as an inspiration to others to succeed in the world of business. Visit www.eoy.co.za for more information.