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(Johannesburg - Tuesday, 22 May 2012) The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) has announced the winners in the 2012 Seda Small Business Stars national business plan competition.

The winners were selected after 180 finalists – drawn from more than 5,500 entries – presented their business concepts to 18 provincial judging panels, who selected a total of 11 national finalists.

Another four special category awards were allocated; these included best woman entrepreneur, best youth entrepreneur, best job-creating entrepreneur and best entrepreneur with a disability.

The winners were announced at a gala function in Sunninghill, Johannesburg today by the Chairman and CEO of Seda, Mr Linda Mngomezulu and Ms Hlonela Lupuwana.

National winner:
(Prize includes: laptop, software, R50,000 in cash, plus R600,000 in business support value from Seda)

Adesh Naidoo from Kwa-Zulu Natal, Clean Street.

Adesh is a passionate and determined entrepreneur, who plans to take his concept – a special green-friendly litter bin that provides advertising revenue for the city, to every municipality in South Africa. The judges believe that Adesh has the drive and business acumen to launch this product, even in the highly competitive media sector, and unanimously gave him their highest score.

National runners-up:
(Prize includes: R10,000 in cash, all runners-up share R240,000 business support value from Seda)

  1. Palesa Moeketsi from Western Cape – Chesa Communications.

    Palesa’s media company has pioneered the concept of simultaneous syndicated programming to a network of small community radio stations, thus opening up a whole new marketing channel to advertisers.

    The judges believe that Palesa’s unique community radio syndication business is not only innovative but is poised to grow as this media sector expands – her passion and energy should also be a major factor.

  2. Bokao Theka from North-West, Canvas Products.
    Bokao has taken a simple, borning product – canvas – and created a range of high quality canvas products from laptop bags to lapas. This business, say the judges, not only has national potential, but shows great entrepreneurship from someone who started as a cleaner.
  3. Lizelle Beukes from Gauteng, Arrero Premium Car Fragrance.

    The fragrances are based on designer aromas, and not the typical “fruity” smells currently available. As people spend more time in their cars, and as the average age of cars on the road increases due to high new car costs, this is a way for people to keep a new car sensation for longer.

    The judges believe Lizelle’s product could really take off, as people hold on to their cars for longer in a recession, and spend more on beautifying them for the long haul. Branding is the key, and that’s what the judges have recommended Seda’s business advisers focus on.

Special awards: (Prize includes: R15,000 in cash each)

  • Most promising woman entrepreneur

Tabisa Nomnganga from the Western Cape.
Bravo Promotions does what it says – making consumer brands come alive in communities through dance, theatre and performances. The company has created more than 20 jobs for dancers, performers and young promoters.

Tabisa said; “Companies and even friends were skeptical about my chances of succeeding. They looked at my disability rather than my ability. I do not let my disability define who I am. When I dream of something, I implement it, despite the hardships. I have been judged and have been denied contracts but that never stopped me from striving to achieve my goals and living my dream. Many look up to me for inspiration and I always lend a helping hand where I can.”

  • Most promising youth entrepreneur

Thula Sindi from Gauteng.

Thula has created an affordable, contemporary brand focused primarily on supplying stylish career-wear.

As a 28-year-old entrepreneur, he has managed in a space of five years to build a trusted fashion brand in South Africa, which not only employs six women directly but also 22 women and more through outsourcing to their co-op. ThulaSindi has managed to attract the attention of South Africa's largest retailer EDGARS and the brand is now available in five store locations in all three of South Africa's major cities. Proving that sustainable design enterprises can indeed be created and that young business people can create, manufacture and retail domestically.

  • Most promising job-creating entrepreneur

Martin Brown from Gauteng.

Radical Holdings is one of the leading manufacturers of custom-built powered wheelchairs in Africa. Radical Mobility brings a fresh and innovative approach with their funky, practical power wheelchairs.

Martin Brown, founder and CEO of Radical Mobility is a C3/6 quadriplegic, confined to a wheelchair since 1998. His frustration in trying to find an electric wheelchair that catered for his needs led directly to the formation of Radical Holdings. Martin has created more than 20 manufacturing jobs directly and indirectly, and his growing international order book is likely to push that number higher. Not only has he created jobs, but Martin personally mentors and motivates his employees to excel.

  • Most promising entrepreneur with a disability

Due to the outstanding quality of entries received, three national winners were selected for this category.

  1. Martin Brown from Gauteng.

    Many people think that a wheelchair is just a wheelchair and if you never had one, then any wheelchair will be fine. Martin has, through his work with hundreds of disabled people, not only shown them that starting and running a business is possible, but that true independence is also possible through true mobility. His success has not only inspired other disabled people, but encouraged them to follow their entrepreneurial dream too.
  2. Tabisa Nomnganga from the Western Cape.

    Bravo Promotions makes consumer brands come alive in communities through dance, theatre and performances. The company has created more than 20 jobs for dancers, performers and young promoters.
  3. Obed Segooa from Gauteng.

    With eight local schools already supporting their clothing manufacturing business, Cycle Check Trading makes work wear and school uniforms. They have created more than 20 jobs.

    Obed started the business knowing that it’s going to be very tough competing with established clothing businesses and he has made it through sheer determination and business acumen, with contracts from Gauteng Health & Social Development, Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, North West Road & Transport. North West Parks & Tourism and GaRankuwa Hotel School.

    On the overall success of the competition, MsLupuwana said: “This is truly the first national business plan competition in South Africa that has provided not only an opportunity for recognition, prizes and business support, but also offered business plan training, tele-coaching and on-line interactive business plan writing skills.”

    “We are thrilled by the results, not only in terms of the number of participants who chose to complete the competition process, but also with the quality of businesses and the level of business ingenuity, innovation and passion.”

    “This event is just the beginning of the process of supporting these entrepreneurs as they take the next steps towards achieving their business ambitions. We will be working closely with all the winners and finalists – as well as a wider group of other selected entrants - to deliver appropriate and customized support.

ISSUED BY: Seda - Small Enterprise Development Agency
MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO: Dominique van Onselen
E-MAIL: dominique@influencepr.co.za
TEL: 082 802 8184 OR
Roxy MacNaughton
E-MAIL: roxy@influencepr.co.za
TEL: 079 529 8045
Date: Tuesday, 22 May 2012

For further information please see the Seda Small Business Stars newspaper “Small Business Times”.