The Johannesburg-based company Rocky Brands collected the top honours and R50 000 prize money when it was announced as the winner of the third staging of the Durban Chemical Cluster (DCC) Business Accelerator Programme for 2020. Five winners were announced at the end of the two-day contest, each of which will now receive mentoring from a top South African business leader.
Cedric Hlongwa of BAP South Africa walked away with second place and a R20 000 prize and the third spot and a R10 000 prize went to Mmoni Sehlapelo of Mamoa Skincare. The judges selected two additional companies for mentorship: Bantek Engineering headed up by Bandlelihle Tikayo and Bokang Muso which is owned and operated by Mmamuso Ditlhakanyane.
Managing Director and Founder of Rocky Brands, Rishav Juglall, is delighted with the win as the competition was stiff. “There were some very innovative entrepreneurs at the event which makes being selected as the winner a great honour.”
“While the prize money is welcome, I am really excited about the opportunity to work closely with a business mentor. This will be game changing for my business,” Rishav explains.
Focussed on leading innovation in South Africa, Rocky Brands imports, manufactures and distributes a premium range of household products currently stocked by some of South Africa’s major retailers. “We have three warehouses in major cities and employ 24 people. But we are ready to launch a range of new products which is going to expand our business exponentially. By working with an experienced mentor, I am confident that we will be able to scale the business successfully. So the business mentorship really is a massive win for my company,” Rishav adds.
Open to entrepreneurs, small businesses and established SMME’s nationwide, the DCC Business Accelerator Programme attracted more than 100 entries and the selection panel was hard pressed to whittle these down to the final 20 candidates.
These qualifiers were invited to the programme’s one-day capacity building workshop held on Wednesday, 8 December in Durban. A highly interactive session, the qualifiers not only had the opportunity to network with leading business people and learn from their experiences, these experts also helped them fine-tune their business pitches which they submitted at the end of the day.
The top 10 pitches qualified for the second round of judging modelled on the “Dragon’s Den” concept. The entrants pitched their innovative growth concepts to a team of four judges, including visionary leader and award-winning entrepreneur Luvuyo Rani, vying for the opportunity to win not only seed capital for their businesses but also an intense business mentoring programme.
Daniel Souchon, Managing Director of Ferro Polymers and one of the judges says that while the mentoring is critical to ensure the sustainable success of these small businesses, it also has a greater purpose.
“Starting in January 2021, each of the five winners will receive one-on-one support from an experienced business leader. Their goal will be to help these entrepreneurs develop a solid business plan that can unlock up to R2 million in preferential loans. The decision on which businesses will qualify for the requested loan funding is expected in April next year if we are not delayed by Covid-19 interruptions,” Daniel says.
The DCC Business Accelerator Programme was started in 2017 by the same companies that are still the main sponsors today, NCS Resins and Ferro Polymers, both of which are part of the BUD Group. Daniel says this year’s event again proves that the Programme is making a meaningful impact in the sustained development of small enterprises.
“Early-stage companies are driving great innovation and new capabilities for South Africa,” says Daniel. “We have had great feedback from our previous winners and we expect to build on our progress with this current group of entrepreneurs,” Daniel explains.
“In business, ideas are currency and the Programme really does offer a win-win solution for entrepreneurs and for the founder companies. The value proposition for these winning companies is that they get access to insights from business leaders and for the founder companies, it keeps us connected to front-line innovation by giving us visibility into disruptive trends from emerging technologies,” Daniel concludes.
For more information on the DCC Business Accelerator Programme visit https://durbanchemicalscluster.org.za/business-accelerator/.