The 30th of January marked the launch of the Ilembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism’s (ICCIT) 2014 The Entrepreneur competition with total prizes to the value of R500 000. The competition is in its fourth year, this year sponsored by ACSA, the North Coast Courier, Enterprise Ilembe, and the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT).
Later this quarter the programme will launch provincially at five other chambers that are members the KwaZulu-Natal Business Chambers Council (KBCC) – the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), Durban Chamber, Zululand Chamber, KZN Youth Chamber, and NAFCOC. The KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism has pledged R2million to get this roll out off the ground as part of their youth development initiatives.
The competition has grown from strength to strength, each year bigger and better and attracting recognition near and far – from local chambers replicating the program, to endorsement by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States of America, to the Swedish Government expressing interest in sponsoring the program.
Let’s go on a journey in the life of the Entrepreneur Competition. The pilot competition in 2011 began with 10 semi-finalists undergoing five weeks of training and in a Dragon’s Den setup, facing a panel of judges and a live audience at the Pumpkin Theatre for the final event. There were a number of lessons learnt, but the competition was very successful in meeting its objectives. Not only did it provide entrepreneurs with media exposure and assistance to get their business operating at a sustainable level, it also provided the sponsors with good exposure and contributed towards local economic development in the region.
In 2012 the final event was filmed on live television! KZN TV agreed to screen the final event at the Pumpkin Theatre and the programme went onto DSTV for three weeks. But to top it off The Entrepreneur 2012 outshone its predecessor by far.
Consider these statistics - out of the 30 semi-finalists, the ICCIT is still in contact with 26. Before ‘The Entrepreneur’ they employed 66 employees including themselves. After the competition an additional 20 full time and 38 part time employees were taken on board – a total 58 new jobs created!
Interestingly when asked to describe their experience the winners said they were intensely grateful not so much for the prize money but for the education they gained during the process. They recognised the need for a solid foundation for their businesses to prosper.
Jump to ‘The Entrepreneur’ in 2013 and the competition traded the Pumpkin Theatre for an exhibition that allowed participants to showcase their products and create linkages with other partners. Those who were there said it was the best finale the competition had had to date and did not want to change a thing. It was clear this element of the Competition is here to stay.
The Entrepreneur 2014 will focus on innovation, resourcefulness, and integrated mentoring. “We are looking for creative minds who are passionate, hardworking and determined and have a business that exhibits innovation, growth potential, uniqueness, and sustainability” said Nobuhle Funda of the Ilembe Chamber. Applicants also need to have an existing business with a turnover of less than R1million, which they have been operating on a full time basis for at least 12 months prior to application. Entry forms are available at Ballito Lifestyle Spar, Stanger Library, KwaDukuza Youth Centre, Sangweni Tourism Office, the Ilembe Chamber Office, or online at www.ilembechamber.co.za .
Please click here for photos from the launch on our facebook page
Click here for the North Coast Courier article for the launch
Click here the Entrepreneur 2014 application form
Thank You to The Entrepreneur 2014 sponsors