Riversands Incubation Hub and Nedbank celebrate small business leaders

The events team pulled out all the stops when Riversands Incubation Hub and Nedbank recently partnered to announce the winners of the inaugural Small-Business Excellence Awards 2019. The venue was beautifully set up and the expectant guests arrived with bright smiles on their faces.

The annual awards were established to recognise entrepreneurs with grit, business acumen and the vision required to build sustainable, successful operations. The awards are open to entrepreneurs within Riversands’ programmes in five categories. 

Jenny Retief welcomed the crowd, saying that, “In South Africa, when the going gets tough; the tough get entrepreneuring.”

“As a bank for small business, the initiative to nurture and recognise small business entrepreneurs at the hub, matches our ethos to grow the economy and create jobs through innovative solutions aimed at helping entrepreneurs,” remarked Nirmala Reddy, Senior Manager of Enterprise Development at Nedbank.

The Beyond 5 Award celebrates businesses that have passed the critical five-year mark and have achieved significant momentum. It recognises the business owner demonstrating commitment, calculated risk-taking and capacity for personal growth. In this category, many of the nominees were recent graduates of the incubation programme.

The Beyond 5 accolade went to Yolanda Nomoyi and Mathapelo Montsho of Why Cook. This duo teamed up in 2014 to create a catering company promoting home style cooking. During their three years at Riversands, Nomoyi and Montsho made full use of their 200m² unit where they created a kitchen with catering-grade health and safety standard and grew the business substantially, attracting a diverse corporate clientele while also serving private customers.

The Gamechanger Award acknowledges entrepreneurs striving to solve challenges using innovation in new, developing fields. 

In this category, the award went to Langa Sangoni, the founder of Apple Green Environmental. When he established his business in 2008, he was someone ahead of his time, anticipating the rising emphasis on sustainability. Today, the company offers a complete suite of waste management and environmental services, employing more than 100 staff members.

Nine small-scale manufacturers competed in the Local Producer category, which rewards and celebrates entrepreneurs brave enough to develop a new product from scratch.

Ivan Skhosana of Wood Armour, who manufactures wood treatment products including sealers, varnish and stains received the top honour in this category. Skhosana currently distributes the product through independent hardware stores with plans for a national footprint.

The Diepsloot Entrepreneur of the Year award acknowledges business owners who come from the nearby township of Diepsloot. Just over 30 percent of entrepreneurs at Riversands live in Diepsloot.

This award went to Bigbrain Moloi, the founder of accountancy firm Moloi & Co, who studied part time and worked as a security guard to fund his accounting degree. After completing his articles, he made the choice to start his own firm in 2014, rather than job-hunt.

The final category of awards celebrates the Top Newcomer – a new entrant on the Riversands programme who has a viable business model, some traction and huge potential.

Vuyisile Zondi of Corium Skincare was acknowledged as the Top Newcomer. Zondi started experimenting with different DIY skin mixes which she would share with friends and family, who encouraged her to commercialise the hobby. Zondi retails online with a strong following of regular customers and interest from large retail chains.