Photo: Business/Partners.

CAPE TOWN – Business/Partners 10th annual SME Toolkit Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs aims to assist young and ambitious individuals (aged 18 – 35 years old) who want to start their own businesses.

First intoduced in 2009, Petro Bothma, the Group Enterprise Development Manager at Business/Partners explains that the competition, which launched on 16 June 2019, consists of three phases, starting with a full-day workshop where entrants will be taught the intricacies of developing a comprehensive business plans.

Bothma said: “The workshops, which will be hosted in different regions across South Africa, will cover all the essential elements of starting a business, including business management, marketing, financial management and legal requirements.”

Bothma told Business Report that the insperation behind this competition was to get more young people accessing the valuable information to help grow their ideas.

Bothma said: "The SME Toolkit, a free online knowledge resource containing thousands of advice articles, forms and tools for business owners is now fully owned by Business Partners Limited. The platform, however was established by the IFC (International Finance Corporation) and made available to entrepreneurs in selected countries across the world including South Africa. Business Partners Limited was the South African custodian of the SME Toolkit."

 "In a bid to get more young people accessing the valuable information available on the SME Toolkit online portal and to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in the country, Business Partners Limited introduced the business plan competition. The initiative was so successful that the IFC replicated the competition in the 15 other countries where the SME Toolkit was available."

Following the regional workshops, the participants will draft their own business plan and enter it as part of the second phase of the competition. From these plans, regional winners will be chosen who will receive a mentorship support voucher to the value of R10 000 each at regional award ceremonies and go through as finalists to the third phase of the competition.

The competition will culminate in an awards ceremony that will take place in Johannesburg on Tuesday 26 November, where a national winner will be announced and awarded a further R20 000 mentorship voucher, R 30 000 cash and a goodie bag comprising of various sponsored prizes.

When asked  How many companies were brought to life thanks to the competition, Bothma statted that not all entreprenuers immediatyly start their business whne winning.

"The competition has seen many winners, but not all of them start a business shortly after winning the competition; some may still be in school or would want to research their ideas further. What we aim to do with the competition is to lay a foundation for young people to be able to start a business in future. Also, the idea they pitch at the business plan competition is not necessarily the idea they end up running with."
 
"An example of a successful winner from the competition is Lindiwe Shibambo of Made4U, who runs a placement agency for cleaning and care workers for the domestic environment, retirement homes and or small office holdings – the Maid4U team has gone on to win many other awards.Another noteworthy winner is Mmabatho Mokiti of Mathemaniacs, a maths tutoring service who now runs Dream Girl SA Academy – a mentoring and entrepreneurship training academy," Botha told Business Report. 

To enter the SME Toolkit Business/Partners Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs, entreprenuers can visit http://smetoolkit.businesspartners.co.za/. 

The competition launched on 16 June 2019 and the closing date to enter is 17:00 on Wednesday, 31 July 2019.

The workshops will take place between 12 and 23 August 2019 in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town as well as Polokwane, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and East London if more than 10 entries are received.

The regional award events will take place between 21 and 31 October and the National award ceremony is on 26 November 2019 in Johannesburg.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE