It’s a question of…encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship via the media. Finweek and business acceleration experts, Aurik, recently found who they believe are Gauteng’s most promising entrepreneurs and awarded them each R250 000 bursaries to help them develop their businesses to the next level. TheMediaOnline caught up with Finweek editor, Marc Ashton, to find out more.
- How does being involved with a project such as this impact on Finweek?
Finweek prides itself on being an entrepreneurial publication. Many of its writers come from entrepreneurial backgrounds and we believe entrepreneurship is an important factor when it comes to developing South Africa. We’ve done some previous work with Pavlo and Carien at Aurik and when this opportunity came along we thought it was a fantastic opportunity to play our part in developing 10 high impact entrepreneurs.
- Will you now be following the progress of the entrepreneurs and reporting on how they’re doing?
Yes – we think this is a very important part of this programme. Invariably when these kind of competitions are run, you get a short burst of enthusiasm around the project and then it fades away. The nice thing about this particular initiative is that it tracks the entrepreneurs through a structured two-year timetable and you watch them grow and achieve their different goals. It makes for awesome content and just brings the reader that much closer to the trials and tribulations that are real-life for entrepreneurs.
- How are you going to take the entrepreneurship message to a wider audience, leverage this competition to encourage more such businesses?
We are big believers in collaborative media and already we’ve seen other print and radio titles pick up the success of the competition and start talking about these entrepreneurs. While Finweek is the media partner on this competition, we want to see these entrepreneurs gain exposure through other platforms as well. There will be events coming up, some social media, quarterly report backs etc – and we want to see other professional networks and media outlets celebrating the success of these entrepreneurs.
- Is entrepreneurship an editorial pillar for Finweek?
Finweek is built around o nemain editorial pillar: money – how do you earn it, save it and spend it. Entrepreneurship is very under-rated concept in South Africa when it comes to the “making money” part. We want people to start seeing entrepreneurship as more than just a last resort when to financial success.
- What did you look for in the winners? They’re all so diverse, it must have been quite hard?
This was a big debate for us initially but eventually we settled on the concept of a ‘high impact entrepreneur. It is very interesting to see how many people are desperate for hundreds of thousands of rands of business development support but are not prepared to put down the R1000/month commitment to the project. We wanted entrepreneurs who we knew A) Had a viable business model, B) Had weaknesses in their business that could be fixed C) Could grow their businesses into an asset of value and finally D) Actually wanted help – a lot of people say they want help but refuse to take advice / comply with business development coaching – the right entrepreneurs were screened using professionally developed psychometric and business tests to make sure we picked people who would stick with the project
- What kind of response did you get using your social media platforms to highlight this competition?
Finweek is relatively new in the social media space so it is something we think we could have done better. Our major takeaway from this project on this front was the smart use of professional networks to help us source the right kind of entrepreneurs.
- Will you roll this out to other provinces and in fact, will you do this again next year?
Absolutely. The initial sponsor is keen to see the concept grow but would be great to have other sponsors on board as well.
What Aurik says:
“Any entrepreneurial journey gets lonely and through this most of us hit glass ceilings or we get to a point where we can’t see the wood for the trees. This happens at all stages of the businesses development from start-up to growth,” says Aurik’s Pavlo Phitidis. “The right business development support that focuses on the entrepreneur and the business makes all the difference in keeping focused and consistently building momentum to accelerate your business growth. This, in addition with the support of big business, the public and government is what we need to grow South Africa through entrepreneurship and we look forward to achieving this to turn these 10 entrepreneurs into symbols of success and opportunity.”
The winners of the 10 entrepreneurship bursaries are:
· FOX Innovations (Pty) LTD t/a FOXit – Aldo van Tonder
· Galeboe Professional Services – Cecil Thokoane
· Kushesh Trading cc – Ashley Mulligan
· Refer-X Technologies (Pty) Ltd trading as iSign.pro – Gareth Ochse
· Rexus Trading Pty Ltd – AllistairBalutto
· Richard Bentley Consulting Pty Ltd – Richard Bentley
· Studio 05 House of Fashion(PTY) Ltd – Cecilia Mungofa
· Destiny Cuisine – Titus Makoro
· MBS Aircon and Refrigeration – MabakaMonakgisi
· Firestring (Pty) Ltd – Tal Nathan
“We set ourselves the goal of doubling the revenue of these 10 businesses in the next two years and I think it is going to make for some fantastic and inspiring content for South Africa to follow,” concludes Ashton.