Entrepreneurs are defined as optimistic, having the ability to spot opportunities, inspiring and driving positive change and most importantly they are innovative, which is the key ingredient in maintaining a competitive edge in an increasingly globalised world economy.

Demonstrating these qualities are the winners in the Ernst & Young SA chapter of the World Entrepreneur Awards, in partnership with First National Bank and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, we congratulate this year’s winners in the following categories:

• Master entrepreneur category – Marcel Golding and John Copelyn – HCI

• Emerging entrepreneur category – Debbie and Walter Fry – Fry Group Foods

• Social entrepreneur category – Olivia van Rooyen – The Kuyasa Fund

Ajen Sita, CEO for Africa at Ernst & Young says: “It is well known that emerging markets face two adverse socio-economic challenges – alleviating poverty and job creation. We also know that in order for South Africa to overcome these challenges we need entrepreneurs who undoubtedly provide the fuel which keeps our economy running. With the forces of globalisation and the mass adoption of the internet changing the world, South African entrepreneurs are certainly opening the gateway into Africa as they increase their use of innovation and new technology to reach new markets.

Ernst & Young has for the past 13 years recognised outstanding entrepreneurs who have been the life blood of Africa and at the same time contributed to the social upliftment of our society, making a difference in the communities in which they operate.

Sita continues:” One of the best examples of entrepreneurship in South Africa is the winner of our Lifetime Achiever Award – Dr Bertie Lubner. Bertie has played a critical role in South Africa, in both the business and philanthropic arenas. His business career is legendary and he is an inspiration to us all. Bertie’s commitment to improving the community is evident with his many success stories including the creation of MaAfrika Tikkun and the Field Band Foundation, to name but a few.

Zanele Xaba, Country Leader for the South African Chapter of the World Entrepreneur Awards at Ernst & Young, says, “In a recently launched survey – “Competing for growth: Winning in the new economy”, the report stated that innovation is becoming increasingly important for survival for 71% of the survey respondents and more than half of companies are introducing new products or services to increase sales. “Corporates are also focusing their efforts on finding growth from existing markets, with 58% looking to sell new products and services in markets where they are already present. In fact, 63% report that incremental product and service innovation has been more successful than transformational innovation. “

Howard Arrand, FNB Commercial Provincial Head for Gauteng, says, “The commercial landscape following the economic crisis has changed. Right now, the word “cautious” sums up the attitude of most traditional South African businesses. Many have responded with cost cutting and the implementation of more stringent governance practices. If ever there is a time for fleet-footed, flexible, customer-orientated, and most importantly, innovative entrepreneurs to redefine how business is conducted, it is now. As a bank focused on enabling, growing and accelerating entrepreneurship in South Africa, we are focusing on the shifting needs of the business owner and targeting our advice and service offerings to meet those needs. ”

Dr François Bonnici, senior advisor to the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship commented, “Social Entrepreneurs are providing innovative, cost-effective and scalable solutions to South Africa’s most pressing problems – a critical resource in today’s economic climate. They blend business acumen with social objectives to address key challenges such as poverty and education, and can, with limited resources, have transformative effects – not just on marginalised communities and populations where they often work, but also on entire sectors and economies.”

About the award winners Master entrepreneur category winner of Ernst & Young SA chapter of the World Entrepreneur Awards, Marcel Golding and John Copelyn of HCI became business partners in 1995. In order to ensure that they were personally invested, Marcel and John structured their investment into HCI through their own investment companies by putting their own capital into the businesses in which HCI invested. Over the last 14 years, Marcel and John have built HCI into a prominent JSE listed company with majority shareholdings in a number of industries including buses, casinos and hotels, television, clothing and textiles, mining, renewable gas, property and motor component manufacture.

Emerging entrepreneur category winner of Ernst & Young SA chapter of the World Entrepreneur Awards, Debbie and Walter Fry started Fry’s Vegetarian. What was a hobby pursued more for personal satisfaction than for business ideals – the Fry’s began experimenting with food types in 1989 looking for vegetarian alternatives that were tasty, nutritious and easy to make. In September 2010, Fry’s launched the Meat Free Monday’s campaign in South Africa as a global initiative to invite South African’s to pledge their support and declare Mondays a meat free day in their households.

Social entrepreneur category winner of Ernst & Young SA chapter of the World Entrepreneur Awards, Olivia van Rooyen started The Kuyasa fund to support community groups to save towards housing and grants loans to individuals who qualify for the state housing subsidy within their belief that the poorer of the poor are still credit worthy and that through mobilising savings they are able to build financial and social capital – specifically housing. Kuyasa provides microfinance services to those with secure occupational rights but whom are traditionally excluded by the South African banking fraternity. The underlying belief behind the business of Kuyasa is that by improving the quality of housing of these people – the moral and social fibre of the community is enhanced by pride felt in being a home owner, and the stabilisation it gives to families.

Very Important Note – Please be aware of the following, when referring to the World Entrepreneur Awards Programme:

The phrase ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR is registered as a trade mark in South Africa in the name of Business Partners Limited. Legally, in South Africa Ernst & Young and First National Bank are therefore entitled to use only the following replacement phrases – WORLD ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS, WORLD ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS PROGRAMME, WORLD ENTREPRENEUR or WORLD ENTREPRENEUR PROGRAMME.

About Entrepreneur Of The Year Ernst & Young’s global Entrepreneur Of The Year programme is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. Recognised globally, the award provides a unique way of encouraging entrepreneurial activity and recognising the contribution of outstanding men and women who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing, and dynamic business, recognising them through regional, national, and global awards programs in 125 cities in 40 countries.

About First National Bank (FNB)

As a company with entrepreneurial spirit at its heart, FNB Commercial is committed to supporting South African entrepreneurs to take advantage of the business opportunities present in our country by offering sound financial services and innovative banking solutions. This commitment is reflected in our strategic vision to enable, grow and accelerate entrepreneurship in South Africa.

FNB Commercial Banking addresses the unique needs of a range of businesses from start-ups to medium corporate companies including companies listed on the JSE Alternate Exchange. FNB Commercial’s successful business model is designed around client segments rather than products. This allows it to focus on understanding clients’ specific needs and building mutually beneficial relationships.

FNB Commercial provides financial solutions, including working capital, structured finance, investment products, and transactional banking to its customers. It offers specific niche solutions in Tourism, Franchising, Agriculture sectors and its product house provides innovative offerings such as debtor and property finance.

www.fnb.co.za About the Schwab Foundation For Social Entrepreneurship

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was co-founded by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, and his wife, Hilde. Since its inception in 2000, the Foundation has been identifying the world’s leading social entrepreneurs in over 40 countries around the globe. Social entrepreneurs implement innovative and pragmatic solutions to social problems by tackling the root causes and creating social transformation. Selected social entrepreneurs of the Schwab Foundation network participate in World Economic Forum events, thus providing unique opportunities for them to connect with business, political and media leaders.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential. Ernst & Young refers to the global organisation of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity.

Following on from Ernst & Young’s successful integration in 2008 of 87 countries into one area from across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), the firm has launched its Africa Business Center™ (ABC), which aims to enhance the effective and efficient links between its geographic reach and areas of expertise. The firm enjoys representation in 30 countries across Africa.

Source: Ernst and Young News release – Fathima Naidoo