The Small Enterprises Development Company (SEDCO) will soon launch regional activations to promote the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards (EYA) 2023 launched by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo last week.
The main objective of the regional activations is to sensitise entrepreneurs on the importance of the EYA programme and to encourage businesses to enter for the EYA competition. The Awards were last held in 2019 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the EYA 2023 launch last week, entrepreneurs are making use of the opportunity to participate in the awards as this programme is of many benefits to businesses. The judging process allows for all entrants an opportunity to receive free business advice from the panel of judges who have a diverse business experience.
As it has been the norm, there would be Regional EYA events in recognition of entrepreneurs in the regions that would precede the National EYA event to be held around July. Deadline for entry is on May 5.
Entrepreneurs are encouraged to enter for the competition through the following link: https://bit.ly/42joY1G.
As part of the initiatives to market the EYA programme, SEDCO participated in the recently ended Vusumnotfo Expo 2023 held at the Tums Water World. Entrepreneurs that attended the Expo had an opportunity to interact with SEDCO officials on the entry requirements for the Awards.
During the official launch of the Awards, Minister Khumalo said the programme aimed to uncover exceptional business that have demonstrated outstanding leadership over the years.
“Through these awards, the ministry aimedto uncover exceptional businesses that had demonstrated outstanding leadership and innovativeness in their business ventures.
Over the past years, over 90 MSMEs have been awarded cash prizes and motor vehicles to reinvest in their enterprises,” Khumalo added.
The minister then pledged his ministry’s continued support for the country’s entrepreneurs by providing the necessary interventions for their business growth.
“As a ministry, we will continue to pursue an integrated MSME support system for the effective delivery of SME support interventions. We believe that through both policy intervention and on-the-ground programmes such as this award competition, the MSME sector will be positioned to meaningfully contribute to the nation’s exports, fiscal, employment creation and poverty reduction,” minister said.
SEDCO is collaborating with partners in ensuring that the programme is a success. In the past, the First National Bank (FNB) and SEDCO have engaged the EYA past winners to understand their constraints in growing their enterprises.
“We consider these kinds of engagements to be immensely valuable to the winners of the competition. Moving forward, we want to create forums where MSMEs can interact with big companies to identify business-to-business opportunities that can benefit the MSME sector,”
We also wish to create platforms for networking and information sharing between the participants of the EYA competition,” Khumalo said.
Speaking during the same event, SEDCO Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Khethiwe Mhlanga said the EYA programme exposedMSMEs to their potential clients and new market.
“This Award competition greatly benefits MSMEs by exposing them to potential customers and new markets, funding agents for financial assistance for further growth and expansion as well as exposure to world-class standards and best business practices,’
For us as an organisation, they help us to identify MSMEs and create a database for sustained engagement,” Mhlanga added.
FNB Eswatini, who has become title sponsors of the programme, has been supporting the awards for over ten years now.
FNB CEO, Dennis Mbingo said they were excited to be contributing to the growth of Eswatini entrepreneurs through the EYA Programme.
“We have been supporting the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for a decade now, having started as a category sponsor and now title sponsor.
In light of the way this collaborating programme has stood the test of time, despite the forced gap during the most difficult years of the pandemic, we are seeking to increase our sponsorship. Today we are committing 1.5 million emalangeni, which is nearly double our last spend,” Mbingo said
The EYA awards have been held annually since 2002 to encourage and promote an entrepreneurial spirit and competitiveness among MSMEs in Eswatini.
This year’s categories include Youth Entrepreneur of the year, Female Entrepreneur of the year, Most Innovative, Most Techno Savvy, Handicraft, Street Vendor, Merchandiser, people living with Disability and Agribusiness, among others.