The Entrepreneur Competition


The Ilembe Chamber of Commerce ‘The Entrepreneur’ competition is capturing the attention of global learning institutions - from Durban and America - placing the programme at the cutting edge of finding solutions to the unemployment crisis in South Africa.

“Students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States spent a week with us understanding our programme and giving input. These students are studying global trends and best practice in local economic development,” said Ilembe Chamber Chief Executive Officer Trenley Tilbrook.

“At a local level, a Masters student from the University of KwaZulu-Natal is currently using our programme as a case study in writing her thesis on local economic development and the implications of social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs are people that find resourceful and innovative ways to aid social development. In effect then our programme is seen as leading the space in this sector.”


This week 30 semi-finalists enter their third week of training aimed at assisting them think through each element of their business, from their target market to the delivery of the product or service. The eight week training programme, valued at a total cost of R300 000 helps each individual write a business plan based on a thought process called business modelling.

“It is important to note that these people already have businesses and are operating. We help them think through their current model and make adjustments. This is then articulated into an implementation plan. Business modelling is a whole lot more than a generic business plan that is commonly used for sourcing funding,” he said.

The statistics of success for last year’s participants speak volumes. Of the 30 that participated in the programme the Chamber is still in contact with 26. Of the 26 – 22 are operating on a full-time basis, three on a part-time basis and one is no longer in business. Before the competition these people employed a total of 66 people. Since completing the programme they have collectively created an additional 58 jobs. That is an average of almost three extra people per business.

“What is important to realise here is that not only are these people able to sustain themselves and the two others they were employing but they have created an additional average of three jobs per person.  Who knows, one of the candidates coming through our programme could be the next Richard Branson?” said Tilbrook.


At a deeper level ‘The Entrepreneur’ programme is also forging relationships between entrepreneurs from all different walks of life and cutting down racial divides between black, white and Indian. It is building social cohesion.

“Our participants all have different levels of understanding, products, services, markets and mechanisms but one thing in common – business. At the workshops we encourage them to network and build relationships. What is emerging is phenomenal. They are starting to do business with one another, sharing experiences and giving advice,” he said.


The Entrepreneur competition is funded by sponsors Airports Company South Africa, Royal Haskoning DHV, Enterprise Ilembe, African Bank and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It is in its third year and things have never looked better



We are proud and excited to announce that The Entrepreneur Competition has been officially LAUNCHED for 2013! 


This year applicants have until June 7 to fill in their entry forms. All entrants will then be reviewed and 30 semi-finalists will be chosen. They will then have to undergo a rigorous training programme and attend sessions every Saturday for a period of eight weeks from July 6 – August 24.


The programme will include all aspects of business, including strategy, marketing and sales, operational planning, staffing, financial planning and presentation skills. A panel of judges and mentors then scrutinize each individual application and based on this rigorous process – a final 10 entrants are selected. These finalists undergo further training.

A total prizes to the value of R300 000 is up for grabs and will be shared between the winners. The capital is then held in account and carefully allocated under the guidance of a mentor. In addition to the prize money the top five receive a 12 month contract with a local business management company that provides the necessary support and advice as well as free Chamber membership for a year.


In a surprise announcement at the Entrepreneur Competition launch held at the iLembe Chamber Offices the 15th of May part owner and editor of the North Coast Courier Bruce Stephenson also announced R40 000 of free advertising space in the monthly Get-It magazine and newspaper to assist business entrepreneurs in marketing their efforts.

Click here to view photos from the Launch on our facebook page.


This year will be slightly different as the finalists will be expected to present an exhibition that showcases their business.  This is where they will be expected to present their ideas in a Dragons Den situation.  The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed their support for the competition to be run in other chambers in the country. The three winners from each chamber will then go forward to compete against each other at the SACCI annual convention in October at which former United Nations leader Kofi Annan is due to speak.

The competition will now be able to grow, attract the attention of government and big corporates and have far reaching effect for small business people. Like other chambers in the country, the ILembe chamber recognises that a strong local business environment encourages growth and research shows that up to 80% of all new jobs are created through stimulating the growth of existing small business.


On an academic level, a Masters student from UKZN has chosen to do his or her thesis on the programme to measure why it has been so successful. This has brought in the involvement of the top entrepreneurial academic institution in the United States – students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – who will now be engaging with the winners of last year’s competition to seek possible interventions for the challenges faced by business entrepreneurs.


We would like to thank the following key supporters in making this competition a success:


African Bank

Enterprise iLembe

Airports Company South Africa



The Mentors:

Cobus Oelofse

Mickey Duncan

Dave Jarrett

Sue Hall

Chris Voysey

John Boyce



Bruce Stephenson – Northcoast Courier

Jane Wiltshire – Valtrust

Paul Naidoo – Ballito Autohaus

Bruce Rencken – Lifestyle Centre


Click here to be directed to the entry form, these are also available at Ballito Lifestyle Spar, KwaDukuza Municipal Offices, Stanger, Sangweni Tourism Office, iLembe Chamber Offices. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries.

The Entrepreneur Competition 2012

The Entrepreneur Competition is back!

Last year’s wildly popular Entrepreneur Competition is back and, this year, with a new and improved programme that will have the KwaZulu-Natal north coast’s budding businessmen and women clamouring to enter. The competition is a joint venture between the iLembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (ICCIT), African Bank and Enterprise iLembe. It ran for the first time in 2011 and was a resounding success with 240 aspiring entrepreneurs vying to be one of the top 10 contestants.

The competition proved to be an effective vehicle for driving enterprise development opportunities, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in the area. ICCIT CEO Trenley Tilbrook said, “International research shows that the most effective way to grow a local economy is to strengthen and grow existing business which contributes up to 70% of new jobs. The 2012 Entrepreneur aims to make this happen by targeting those people who have already established their own businesses and need the support and funding to take them to the next level.”

The 2012 Entrepreneur was launched on June 21 and winners will be eligible for a portion of the R320 000 prize money donated by Enterprise iLembe and African Bank. This year’s competition targets micro-businesses located within 50km of Ballito. Application forms are available at the iLembe Chamber offices in Ballito; Lifestyle SuperSpar; Kwa-Mama Care Centre; Luthuli Museum; Stanger Library; Stanger Youth Centre and the Ithala offices in Isithebe Business Park. Entries close on 01 August. Thirty contestants will be chosen and receive eight weeks of free training and mentorship every Saturday from August 25. During this time they will put together a comprehensive business plan. The top ten business plans will be selected and presented to a panel of judges known as the ‘Eagle’s Nest’ on October 25. Besides funding, winners will also receive 12 months of business support from ICCIT and its mentors. “ICCIT is committed to help grow and strengthen local business through a variety of networking, business support and training platforms. The Entrepreneur is just one of our ways to improve the economic future and quality of life for all,” said Tilbrook.