ON THE PANEL: Derek Thomas and Nobuntu Webster.

ALMOST everyone I know has a business idea they would like to see reach fruition in their lifetime.

We all have these grand dreams, yet we often gravitate towards a safe job and in turn those enterprising business ideas find their way into the dustbin. Yet there are those who still want to break the chains of employment and dependency.

So they go against the grain and fight to get their businesses up and running. Watching the first episode of SABC3’s Think Big, you can tell that there are many South Africans out there, young and old, who believe in self-sustenance.

“Entrepreneurs are gifted people who generate something out of nothing. They also create jobs, which is very important, and we feel it is worth telling their stories,” said Derek Thomas, the chief executive of Letsema Holdings.

Thomas, along with Nobuntu Webster, who is a founder and principal strategist at Ayano Communications and the executive director of African Pursuit, are the hosts of Think Big. It’s fitting since their professional lives reflect the success stories of individuals who took risks and started their own businesses.

The pair travelled the country talking to hundreds of hopeful small business owners who are in need of a cash injection to expand their business. Twenty-four of them were selected and 12 shortlisted.

The selection criteria included owning an established business, a team and room to grow. Only six of these teams get to sit in front of a board to pitch their ideas. Thomas and Webster have to select the people whom they feel have unique ideas which will add something to the economy.

We have seen various contestants try out on the show and some of the businesses include farming marketing companies, photographic enthusiasts and food outlets.

“The truth about South Africa is that after 20 years of freedom, we still have major problems and if I were to coalesce it into a single word it would be ‘employment’,” said Thomas.

“Modern science is interesting when it reveals facts like how as humans we don’t care how poor we are, but we care how we fare against the next person. If we don’t create opportunity for the other we will be in big trouble.

“Think Big thinks for the other and I am happy to work on it. I knew by taking on this challenge that I would learn more,” he said.

Webster also shared why she joined the show and how she wishes it would change South Africans’ perspective when it comes to owning businesses.

“I am in marketing and am an entrepreneurial coach so it’s a joy to look at people’s dreams and help them commercialise them.

“That’s why I am here and we have learnt so much on the journey,” said Webster.

She felt that because South Africans are very judgemental when it comes to failure, fewer and fewer of them are willing to take the leap of faith and start their own businesses.

• Think Big airs every Thursday at 9.30pm on SABC3.