Spotlight on Western Cape innovative entrepreneurs

An innovative business idea helped a young entrepreneur scoop top honours at the Premier’s Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards which includes the chance to attend a Global Entrepreneurship Conference in Moscow worth R100 000.

The awards, held at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town last month, aims to recognise the achievements of entrepreneurs in the Western Cape.

Ludwick Marishane, who co-owns Headboy Industries with Lungelo Gumede, says the pressure is on to achieve even bigger results as he has now won numerous awards for DryBath, a bath substituting gel which he developed when he was in Grade 11. DryBath is described as “a bath without water”.

“I am happy about winning the money because I can use it to further fund the business but I now have a fear of making mistakes because there are more people watching me and less room for errors,” says Marishane.

Marishane, who recently graduated from the University of Cape Town, walked away with the Best Student Business Idea, Best Innovative Business and the Overall Winner prize on the night.

Vivian Kleynhans, owner of African Roots Wines, won R15 000 after coming third in the Export Business category and says she was forced to export her goods after local retailers refused to stock it. “I am now in the process of doubling the number of bottles of wine I send out as I just got Walmart (a big American retailer) on board,” says Kleynhans.

She says she has also acquired land in Stellenbosch and is hoping to expand her business to include a wine tourism aspect to her business and estimates growth of up to 50%.

Other category winners also include Alexander Daniel, owner of Genandendal Hand Weavers, who won Best Social Enterprise, Best Export Business went to Christo Du Plessis of Abagold, Lauren O’ Donell of GreenPop won Best Green Business and the Best Established Business award went to Paul Raphaely who co-owns Nomu with wife Tracy Foulkes.

Upon speaking to the various winners, it was clear that the recognition of their work meant more than the actual prize money.

Says Raphaely: “I am not just a little shocked. I am completely thrilled to win. I am more excited to actually win than I am about the money.”

His sentiments were echoed by Solani Lidzhade, owner of Mukoni Software whose core business is software development and integration.

“Sitting at a table with the Minister and Premier is first prize,” says Lidzhade who was the runner-up in the Established Business category.

Business owners submitted applications for the awards from November 2012 to January 2013 which was advertised throughout the Western Cape.

Thirty finalists from a wide-ranging number of sectors applied but the panel of judges selected only 12 winners in categories which include emerging business, established business, social enterprise, export business and best innovative student idea.

Twenty-nine panel interviews were held prior to selecting the winners. Each category winner received R50 000 with second place winners receiving R25 000 and third place R15 000.

Special awards were also granted to Best Innovative business and Best Green business who each received R25 000.

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