Rewards for small business lions

2018 Business Achievers Awards

The entrepreneurial spirit and tenacity of small business leaders in KwaZulu-Natal was celebrated at the 2018 Business Achievers Awards ceremony in Durban this past week.

Hosted by the Ithala Development Finance Corporation, the awards recognise business achievements and excellence, their contribution to job creation and the growth of the province’s economy.

Eight out of 16 nominees, Ithala clients from the agriculture, franchise, media, tourism and logistics services sectors and hailing from as far as Pongola, Newcastle and Kokstad, were selected as winners, earning prize money for their businesses and a charity of their choice.

Winners in each category were selected on the basis of their business sustainability, growth, job creation, community development, entrepreneurial flair and innovation.

“We initiated the Ithala Business Achiever Awards project to recognise and reward existing Ithala clients in their role of developing an entrepreneurial province.

“We nominated clients who epitomise a spirit of entrepreneurship, have a good track record of financial performance, have made an impact in their community and demonstrated innovation and integrity,” said Ithala acting Group Chief Executive, Thembe Mathe.

Ithala aims to be a catalyst for economic development and empowerment.

“We are mandated to deliver development and empowerment solutions and encourage participation in all sectors of the economy, including and especially disadvantaged communities.”

The judging process was stringent with external independent adjudicators from the Durban Chamber of Commerce and the Ethekwini Municipality Business Support Unit ensuring impartiality. Shortlisted clients were provided with the interview questions a week before the interview so that they could be well prepared for the judges.

Five category award winners each received R30 000 plus R5000 for charity.

1. Logistical Services Business of the Year: Thamsanqa Ngcobo of Umlalazi Trading – a business started by taxi owners who got together to form a bus transport co-operative. They started out with a fleet of eight buses which has expanded to 12 buses.

2. Franchise Business of the Year: Muziwethu Shinga of Majestic King Fast Foods – his business sense has seen him expand to three franchises with a total staff of 72 and good operating systems in place.

3. Micro Business of the Year: Zaba Ngubane of Logoman Designs – for passionate involvement in his business which specialises in graphic design and printing. He has a shop in Mega City shopping centre in Umlazi and currently employs nine youths in his store.

4. Agriculture Business of the Year: Bhekuyise Magwaza of Ngqobeni Farm – for hands-on involvement in his business for 16 years. He has also started a co-op that specialises in harvesting and haulage of sugarcane in the KwaDukuza area. He currently employs 15 permanent staff with 60 seasonal workers.

5. Tourism and Hospitality Business of the Year: Mlungisi Nzuza from Nongoma. He owns three lodges – Nongoma Inn, Nongoma Lodge and Mbazwana Inn. He currently has 47 permanent employees.

The overall winner, who took away the Entrepreneur of the Year title and R100 000 plus R10 000 for charity, was Phumulani Ngwenya, owner of Siyanda Stationery trading as Kwalala Lodge.

Born and bred in Pongola Ngwenya grew up selling boiled eggs and sweet potato at school. This entrepreneurial spirit and an eye for business saw him filling the needs of his community, opening a crèche and later a stationery shop. He then branched into the tourism industry with a B&B with Kwalala Lodge, Magugu Lodge and Crocodile Creek Lodge, all which are based in Pongola. He is also involved in property development where he owns six commercial properties which he is currently leasing out.

This year’s special award for the Most Promising Young Entrepreneur of the Year went to Sabelo Buthelezi owner of Limco Logistic.

He started his business in 2012 with two trucks and within six months he expanded his fleet to five trucks. He has since increased his number of employees from five to 13.