South African SMEs stand a chance of securing funding, market exposure and new partnerships through the annual Eskom Business Investment Competition (BIC) and the Small Business Expo 2017.
Enjoying a rare opportunity to improve their businesses, market their companies effectively, network with potential business partners and carry out live market research, small business owners report that this annual opportunity delivers long-term benefits.
Through the Eskom Development Foundation, Eskom supports entrepreneurship and small business development at South Africa’s leading annual small business event, the Small Business Expo, organised by Reed Exhibitions and presented in partnership with Eskom.
Eskom utilises the opportunity to announce the winners of the annual Eskom BIC, in which substantial prizes are awarded to black-owned businesses in the manufacturing, engineering/construction, agriculture/agri-processing and services/trade sectors. The overall winner across all four sectors of the competition stands to win R150 000 to invest in their business, while each sector winner receives business investment support of R100 000. Runners-up and finalists also receive cash prizes.
The BIC finalists are also hosted at the Eskom pavilion at the Small Business Expo, taking place from 31 August – 2 September in Johannesburg, where they meet with potential business partners, investors and customers; and attend the numerous training events and development workshops at the expo.
In addition to hosting the BIC awards and showcasing the finalists at the expo, Eskom also features leading Eskom Simama Ranta schools who run enterprise clubs across South Africa at the expo.
The overall winner of the 2016 BIC, Nomcebo Sibanyoni, owner of Nomcebo Printers in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga, reports that her participation in the competition and expo has delivered long-term benefits for the company.
“The BIC was quite intimidating, but my participation gave me an opportunity to review my business model and strategies; and the input from the expert judges helped us to focus on long-term goals,” she says. “One concern raised during the process was our focus on servicing the mines within our province. As a result, we have reconsidered our strategy and are diversifying our products and customer base.” Winning the BIC also gave Nomcebo Printers valuable exposure, adding to its credibility, she says. “The Lydenburg Chamber of Commerce subsequently gave us an award for being a business that helped put Lydenburg on the map. This has helped build trust in our abilities among existing and potential customers.”
Participation in the Small Business Expo added significant value to the experience, says Sibanyoni: “Not only did we benefit from market engagement and networking with potential partners, we also learnt a great deal from the workshops at the event. For example, I took learnings from the social media workshop and applied them to our own business strategy – and we are now using social media very successfully to engage with our customers.”
Previous Eskom BIC runner-up and three-time participant at the Eskom pavilion at the Small Business Expo Kroutz Sprouts, says the competition and expo exposure have been very beneficial for the company.
Candice Kroutz-Kabongo, co-founder of the family-owned hydroponic vegetable farm, says the entire BIC process and the participation in the Small Business Expo has helped the company on several fronts: “The actual competition adjudication process is an eye-opener,” Kroutz-Kabongo says. “You subject your company to scrutiny by experts in their field, and they point out areas you may not have considered. In our case, this scrutiny highlighted price fluctuations in fresh produce, and led us to consider processing our own produce. At the Small Business Expo, we were then able to showcase these products and assess market response on the show floor.”
Kroutz-Kabongo says participating in the Small Business Expo also gave Kroutz Sprouts a rare opportunity to network with other business owners to discuss potential partnerships. “We had access to food franchise owners, for example, and we opened talks on possibly supplying them with our fresh produce. Overall, we found our participation in the Eskom BIC and the Small Business Expo very worthwhile.”
“Eskom’s participation and the BIC innovator showcase are highlights of the Small Business Expo, illustrating the high level of creative business flair South Africans are capable of and giving show visitors access to the most innovative new businesses around. This is in line with our overall goal to provide a platform for small business networking and growth,” says Carol Weaving, Managing Director of event organisers Reed Exhibitions.
The three-day expo, which is co-located with the #BuyaBusiness expo, provides SMEs, businesses, investors and franchisors with a versatile platform from which to network, explore new business partnerships, build brand awareness, interact with potential customers and investors as well as to generate media coverage. The #BuyaBusiness expo and Small Business Expo offer business opportunities, franchise opportunities, business tools, business services, financial advice and networking for anyone considering starting their own business or franchise, and for those already in business and looking to expand, or to source BEE procurement partners.
About the Small Business Expo
The Small Business Expo, to be held at the TicketPro Dome from 31 August – 2 September 2017, is devoted to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, providing an invaluable platform for small businesses to market their businesses and interact with prominent business leaders, corporates and procurement buyers. Attracting thousands of visitors each year, it is the ideal platform to stimulate business growth and motivate both current and aspiring entrepreneurs. The Small Business Expo runs alongside #BuyaBusiness Expo and is presented in partnership with Eskom.
About the #BuyaBusiness Expo
The #BuyaBusiness Expo is an annual exhibition held alongside Small Business Expo. To be staged at the Ticketpro Dome from 31 August – 02 September 2017, this expo connects thousands of entrepreneurs and investors who are looking to grow, diversify or enter into business ownership with one of the many business and franchise opportunities available at the show. It also presents business funding and service support solutions.