2020 SME Toolkit-BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition reinstates physical workshop component
As South Africans adapt to life under Alert Level 1 of lockdown, local businesses look forward to a much-needed uptick in economic activity following the worst quarterly GDP collapse on record – a 51% drop, on an annualized basis, during the second quarter of 2020. This latest easing of restrictions, however, also brings good news for aspiring entrepreneurs who have a business idea but aren’t sure where to start.
This is according to David Morobe, Executive General Manager for Impact Investing at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that in-person workshops – with the necessary caution and safety protocols – will now be allowed to take place, in selected areas, during this year’s SME Toolkit-BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition.
“In our 10 years of running this competition, entrants have always found the workshops to be extremely beneficial, and the platform has launched hundreds of young entrepreneurs as a result. During these highly regarded sessions, participants are also able to meet other like-minded young people, exchange ideas, and get to start useful business networks.
“We were therefore obviously hesitant to take the entire competition online as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, as this would not only deprive entrants of their full workshop experience but could also unintentionally exclude entrepreneurs who don’t have uninterrupted internet access,” Morobe explains.
With the reinstatement of physical workshops, Petro Bothma – the Group Enterprise Development Manager at BUSINESS/PARTNERS – explains that the competition framework has been revised. “To accommodate the workshops, we have ultimately extended the timeframe of the competition, so instead of running entirely online until November 2020, the competition will culminate in a national awards ceremony, which will take place during February 2021.”
One competition component that Bothma notes was never in question are the awesome prizes up for grabs. “Based on the business plans submitted, 10 regional winners will be selected in January 2021, and will each receive mentorship assistance from leading business experts to the value of R10 000. Finally, from this pool of regional winners, one overall national winner will walk away with a further mentorship voucher worth R20 000, as well as a cash price of R30 000.”
Morobe concludes by calling on all hopeful South African entrepreneurs who have not yet entered, to do so today. “With the workshops set to commence in just over a week, I want to encourage everyone who has ever had a business idea – even those who are not sure if they’re ready to take the leap – to apply and take part in this free competition. The platform essentially allows participants to take the plunge without being exposed to the full extent of real-life risks, but having access to a variety of recourses and expert support – so there really is nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
To enter the SME Toolkit-BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Entrepreneurs, please complete the online entry form on the SME Toolkit’s website. Online entry is required before the closing date for Business Plans to be submitted, 23:00 on 30 November 2020. However, in order to take part in the workshops, an online entry must be completed by 31 September 2020.
After submitting the online entry, participants will receive an invitation to join the programme, and be asked to submit a registration form and a certified copy of their IDs. Once the documents have been received, participants will be issued a registration number and invited to join a closed Facebook group for group discussions and solutions to frequently asked questions.
Training material will be provided to each participant, as well as access to selected mentors to assist with questions resulting from this. To complement online support, workshops are now scheduled to take place during October, and Business Plans must be submitted by 30 November 2020. The 10 regional finalists will be announced in January 2021, and the overall winner will be announced during February 2021.