Greatness in Grahamstown

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Sisa Mapetu answers the tough questions as Pitch & Polish hit Grahamstown earlier this month. Photo: Sue Maclennan

The Grahamstown leg of the ninth annual ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme was held on Saturday, 15 September 2018, and was attended by enthusiastic entrepreneurs from across the Eastern Cape. It turned out to be an intimate event with truly dedicated delegates. Education is something that is ingrained in Eastern Capetonians, as evidenced by the delegates who travelled from East London, Port Elizabeth, Queenstown, Port Alfred and King Williams Town simply to be at this engaging learning workshop. Great learning news travels fast in this province!

Since inception, this national entrepreneurial workshop and competition – hosted in partnership with Engen Petroleum Ltd, Nedbank, Raizcorp and Caxton Local Media – has helped over 11 000 entrepreneurs improve the way they pitch their businesses to potential investors.

Siyabulela Matinise, Regional Sales Operations Manager Eastern Cape from Engen Petroleum Ltd, shared his thoughts, “I enjoyed the open-minded environment created by the ENGEN Pitch & Polish platform, which helps entrepreneurs simplify their business pitch and invites audience participation. The current statistics on poverty and education in our country clearly indicate the need for corporates to invest in small business.”

The day’s winning formula began with Justin Cohen, best-selling author and international speaker, motivating the crowd about the value of delivering a polished pitch. The workshop aims to teach participants how to develop a well-rounded and investor-ready pitch. The interactive nature of the event ensures that everyone participates while learning at the same time. At each event, the contestants pitch their businesses while the facilitator and attendees offer guidance, advice and direction to help shape the pitches.

For example, through the pitch of Sisa Mapetu, who came in fourth place and whose dream is to own his own coffee shop, the delegates learned how loving what you do permeates both words and body language. However, it is imperative to know the economics of and include the full value chain into the business model.

The learning imparted to Kanyo Langa, who delivered the winning pitch on his trailer-manufacturing business, is to find a differentiator in your offering and specific geographic area. In addition, sharing with investors your current revenue and profit, in relation to the capital injection required, can be beneficial in illustrating the health of the business.

Aisha Slamang, who came in third place with her project-management consultancy, learned to be clear on her offering and to refine her business idea to easily explain the need in the market and how she can solve it. It is advantageous to dig deep and determine whether the concept is a potential business, a non-profit organisation or a hybrid model.

Phelelani Zonke, second runner-up with a pitch on his grocery delivery business, saw a need and solved it. Being personable and sharing a story captured attention. However, connecting this to your business is crucial. He demonstrated that skills and determination can be a winning formula. He was advised that his bigger vision must take into consideration the greater competitive market. A new business should create foundations and build muscle before developing and growing.

“The biggest challenge for an entrepreneur is access to finance and ENGEN Pitch & Polish helps to address this gap by teaching participants what an investor is looking for. Here, dreams are turned into reality, and big business must ensure they play their part as it is through small business that the high unemployment rate will be addressed. It was quite amazing to see the transformation over the course of the day,” enthuses Andisa Sikwebu, Provincial Manager: Retail Relationship Banking from Nedbank.

Insider tip: in the current economic climate, local businesses that serve their communities can thrive as their operating costs can be reduced, with the resultant lower prices helping their customers.

As the 2018 winner of the Grahamstown leg of ENGEN Pitch & Polish, Kanyo Langa won R6 000 and a week of training at Raizcorp in Johannesburg worth R150 000. He also has the opportunity to progress to the semi-final and become the ultimate 2018 ENGEN Pitch & Polish winner and receive further cash injections and other prizes.

Congratulations to everyone for attending, for taking action and for being the light that shines on the local entrepreneurial environment.

For more information, visit www.pitchandpolish.com.

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