The 2016 winner of the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneur of the Year Award is Nqobile Nkosi, owner of NQ Jewellery Design Services, based in Soweto, which was announced on 20 October at a gala banquet at the group’s Riverside Sun Resort on the banks of the Vaal River in Vanderbijlpark.
The event was attended by Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, who gave the keynote address and attended the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs National Supplier Showcase Exhibition on Friday 21 October.
Says Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun’s GM of Corporate Affairs, “Our wholehearted congratulations go to Nqobile on his worthy win. In his role as the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneur of the Year, Nqobile will serve as an inspiring role model to other entrepreneurs, and set an example of what can be achieved when one perseveres to overcome obstacles and challenges. Our Entrepreneur of the Year winners become ambassadors for the programme for the following year; they talk about their experiences, their secrets to success, as well as the programme, and they promote their own businesses. We welcome Nqobile as our seventh ambassador and we have no doubt he will be an inspiration and contribute to the development of other SMMEs in South Africa.”
Among the prizes that Nqobile won were R30 000 from Tsogo Sun, a business bursary from Tsheto Leadership Academy valued at R20 000, and a professional business image experience from tweak&STYLE valued at R15 000.
A turn of events saw Nqobile launching into jewellery design and manufacturing. He originally had plans to become an electrical engineer, but when funds ran out, he started a two-year course in jewellery design and manufacturing at the Soweto Jewellery School – and so started on the path to establishing his own jewellery design company. He registered his company in 2013 and subsequently attorney Jerry Nkeli invested in it and became chairman of Nqobile’s company, and his mentor. NQ Jewellery Design Services is Soweto’s first jewellery manufacturing and retail business. It employs six people, all from Soweto, including two disabled interns who are being financially supported by HopeFund in France.
Nqobile joined Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs last year. Tsogo Sun is working with him to establish a more sustainable and consistent income stream, determining the feasibility of opening a jewellery outlet for his company at Gold Reef City Theme Park, and assisting with other potential plans to grow market access.
The awards dinner is part of the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs conference that includes an intensive business workshop as well as a National Supplier Showcase where the entrepreneurs exhibited their products and services to potential customers, giving them access to new markets.
The four-day conference represents the successful completion of a year-long programme that started in November last year when the new intake of businesses was inducted into the full year development programme. They were each allocated a business coach and a personal life coach to help them close the gaps in their businesses and to develop themselves as the people running them. This one-on-one coaching is customised according to each entrepreneur’s needs. In addition, business foundation skills training was given to the entrepreneurs in their provinces.
Tsogo Sun delivers the Entrepreneurs programme with the support of several strategic partners. These include Carlson Wagonlit Travel, which has been a long time contributor to the beneficiaries of the programme for the past seven years and funds some of the bursaries for the University of Cape Town Guesthouse Management and Small Business Management courses; and Queen Ramotsehoa, whose company, Tsheto Leadership Academy, provides a repertoire of coaching and business mastery services for personal and enterprise development to the entrepreneurs. Adds Tothill, “Coaches from Tsheto Leadership Academy work with our entrepreneurs throughout the year. We’ve been impressed with the powerful impact that this coaching has had on the entrepreneurs’ confidence and thinking, leading to exciting development within many of their businesses.” Colour Accounting gives financial management training to the entrepreneurs.
To enter the Entrepreneur of the Year competition, the eligible entrepreneurs, which included a total of 152 Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs and Alumni who are benefitting from the development programme, were required to complete a comprehensive entry form. These were shortlisted and five finalists were selected, using a stringent evaluation method that included assessing performance in the programme, financial performance, customer knowledge, marketing, innovation efforts, job creation, contributions to the greater community, potential for growth, and overall sustainability. The finalists were then interviewed by a panel of nine judges: Marcel von Aulock, CEO of Tsogo Sun; Vusi Dlamini, Group HR Director of Tsogo Sun; Laurelle McDonald, Corporate Finance Manager of Tsogo Sun; Ravi Nadasen, Tsogo Sun Operations Director; Ella Bella Leite, Founder of Generation Earth; Adriaan Groenewald, CEO and Co-founder of Leadership Platform; Carol Sanderson, 2014 winner and owner of Casambo Exclusive Guest Lodge; Emmah Makatu, 2013 winner and owner of Zwinoni Lodge; and Salome Tshungu, 2012 winner and owner of The Orchards.
Tothill says participation in the programme is open to all South African businesses with an annual turnover of less than R50 million. There are three channels through which businesses can join the programme: the HCI Supplier Club (Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited is the key shareholder of Tsogo Sun); Tsogo Sun’s Supplier Showcases, where entrepreneurs with potential for growth are identified by Tsogo Sun and invited to join the programme; and the Department of Tourism and tourism agencies that nominate businesses for evaluation for inclusion by Tsogo Sun.
“It’s essential for big business to get involved in small business development in order to boost job creation and the economy,” Tothill notes. “We’re proud of what our Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs are accomplishing, often against the odds, and of what we can do to help them grow. The Entrepreneur of the Year Award is our way of acknowledging their hard work and significant achievements.”
Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs by numbers
- 180 beneficiaries are supported nationally by the programme
- 152 are enrolled in development
- 82% are black South African women
- 74% have graduated to the Alumni phase and have trained to become mentors to new entrepreneurs
- 47 businesses in the Alumni phase have expanded their operations as a result of the programme
- 126 have successfully completed the UCT Business Management Course funded by the programme
- R84million was the group’s combined spend on enterprise and supplier development for the past year, of which R14million was spent on enterprise development beneficiaries and R70million on supplier development beneficiaries