A pitching competition has given business owner Mohotjie Thoka the confidence to take his company to the next level.
Thoka, who took home R2 000 in prize money, is the winner of a “pitching showdown” hosted in Polokwane in July by South African Breweries’ (SAB) Kickstart youth entrepreneurship development programme.
He is one of 25 young Limpopo entrepreneurs who participated in the three-day startup bootcamp.
Participating entrepreneurs were provided with pitching opportunities, collaborative business mentoring, training and networking support.
Thoka, who sells portable cellphone chargers through his business Zippy Charge, says participating in the programme has boosted his business.
“After starting my business three months ago I struggled to put my business model into perspective to the extent where it could lead to actual sales.
“The mentoring and training I received were instrumental in helping me to identify my target market which is mainly cellphone users at events such as picnics, parties, and festivals – essentially public recreational places where high volumes of people are to be found.”
He says the pitching process, where participants were given two minutes to impress the judges with their business ideas, was very challenging and helped improve his negotiating skills.
“These negotiating skills coupled with the feedback we received will stand us in good stead when we have to pitch to investors in future.”
The final day of the bootcamp gave participating entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their business ideas at a national entrepreneur networking session in Polokwane, called the Hookup Dinner. It was here where he delivered his winning pitch.
Thoka says the networking session also gave him the opportunity to meet those active in the events industry and with whom he can potentially work with to sell and distribute his product.
Octavius Phukubye, an SAB enterprise development specialist, says SAB decided to run the bootcamp in Limpopo because youth in rural areas struggle to access support for their business ideas.
She says the Limpopo province presents young people with an opportunity to leverage its agricultural and eco-tourism potential.
“Limpopo is a province that has a high rate of unemployment and the youth must tap into the economic opportunities. It is an emerging hub of business.”
Phukubye says the bootcamp initiative extends SAB’s objective of growing a culture of entrepreneurship across the country, with the aim of building a strong and quality pipeline for the company’s SAB Kickstart programme.
The Limpopo programme was a once-off pilot and SAB is still deciding whether to expand the initiative to other provinces.
Entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 with an innovative business idea or early startup not more than six months old were eligible for selection.
The final 25 entrepreneurs who participated in the programme were selected from a group of 60 who had to undergo an initial pitching assessment process. Participants were assessed on the quality of their business idea, their ability to adhere to the two-minute pitch timeline and their response to questions from the judges.
The SAB Kickstart programme, in existence since 1995, offers entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 the opportunity to grow their existing businesses through a business development support package which includes business skills training, grant funding, a business growth development strategy and mentorship. Over the past 19 years SAB KickStart has helped more than 27 000 youth entrepreneurs.