Eskom supports SMMEs that are delivering the goods

It is widely acknowledged that thriving small businesses are essential for SA’s economic growth, in order to create the jobs so desperately needed.

Countless research reports highlight that small businesses not only drive economic growth but create vast numbers of jobs. In fact many experts suggest that by stimulating growth in this area we may be able to address some of the challenges the SA economy faces.

According to research conducted by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, successful and sustainable small businesses can create millions of jobs and drive economic development.

Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) contribute more than 45% of SA’s total GDP and create in excess of 50% of all employment opportunities.

Taking this to heart, the Eskom Foundation NPC (Reg No 1998/25196/08) believes that enterprise development at a small business level is a powerful mechanism for driving economic growth.


‘Small businesses and the passionate entrepreneurs behind them are essential ingredients of this country’s future economic success. Entrepreneurship is a vehicle for job creation and can drive economic growth and development,’ says Haylene Liberty-Nel, Eskom Development Foundation CEO.

That is exactly where Eskom’s Business Investment Competition (BIC) fits in. By rewarding small businesses that are doing good work in the agricultural, manufacturing and trade and services sector, Eskom hopes to bolster their growth trajectory and speed up economic growth and job creation.

Competing for a share of the R1.7 million in prizes, this annual competition is open to small- and medium-sized, black-owned business that operate in the agriculture, trade/services and manufacturing sectors.

The business must have been operating successfully for a minimum of two years and will be assessed on their business acumen, track record and potential for job creation. The overall winner will receive R200 000 worth of prizes to reinvest into the business, while sector winners will take home R100 000 worth of prizes.

‘The aim of the competition is not just to acknowledge and reward these entrepreneurs but through the prizes, equip them to take their businesses to the next level,’ says Liberty-Nel.

The competition has been running since 2008 and the winners and runner-ups receive prizes that include cash injections to be reinvested into the business as well as training, skills-development and business tools that will help their businesses grow further.

‘The competition is one of the Eskom Foundation’s economic flagship programmes that aims to equalise the business opportunities available to previously disadvantaged people. As a result, finalists and winners of the competition benefit from substantial prize money to invest into their businesses to drive further growth and development. It also provides the finalists with general business recognition that helps them build and grow their customer base,’ explains Liberty-Nel.

Last year the overall winner was Khariye Poultry Farming, a family-run co-operative established by Livhuwani Tshifhango in 2010. The company specialises in raising, slaughtering and packaging chickens to sell to retailers, hawkers and local community members. It also sells live chickens.

When Tshifhango resigned her job in banking to create a chicken farming business, many thought she was crazy for starting such a risky venture in such tough financial times.

Winning the 2013 Eskom BIC, however, has silenced her critics.

‘I am so proud [to have won]. I now have seen that resigning from my job wasn’t a waste of time. This proves the point that what I am doing is valuable, that is it acknowledged as good work,’ says Tshifhango.

Khariye Poultry Farming used the prize money to expand the business by building more chicken houses to meet the ever-increasing demand, with the long-term view to distributing their products nationally.

In addition to the other prizes, finalists are invited to exhibit at the Business Opportunities & Franchise Expo (BOFE). The four-day expo provides SMMEs, businesses and franchisors with the opportunity to build brand-awareness and interact with potential customers, clients and investors.

BOFE is one of Gauteng’s premier business expos and offers companies a unique opportunity to market their business and meet with potential clients and customers. The expo also offers small-business owners the chance to attend business, financial and marketing presentations by renowned business gurus to broaden their business knowledge.

Previous competition finalists who have exhibited at the expo have made contact with major retailers, resulting in lucrative deals, while other finalists have met with procurement professionals from large organisations and companies looking for black suppliers.

Eskom is also aware that many small businesses lack sustainability as a result of insufficient basic business skills and experience. As a result, winners of the competition will attend the Eskom Contractor Academy for upskilling that will help them grow their businesses sustainably.

Another company that excelled at BIC in 2013 was Megaphase Construction. Based in Durban, Megaphase Road Marking and Traffic Signs dedicates itself to the manufacture and supply of quality road signs and road-marking services.

Part of their mission statement is to maintain and build service excellence as well as to promote black economic empowerment at all levels of their operation. The company employs 49 full-time employees and one part-time employee. They opened a Johannesburg branch recently, and hope to eventually open branches throughout Africa.

Due to Megaphase’s sound business practices as well as their commitment to job creation – particularly of the youth – they were awarded first runner-up in the manufacturing category of the 2013 Eskom BIC.

Another aspect of the contest is Eskom’s Enterprise Education Simama Ranta competition, which aims to identify, honour and showcase secondary schools that serve as models of comprehensive, quality entrepreneurship education.


Run in partnership with the Education With Enterprise Trust – an NGO specialising in enterprise development – the programme encourages learners to form clubs that generate income using different interventions and activities to get to grips with what it take to be a successful business owner.

The profits are then reinvested into the school or used to support local community projects.

Translated, Simama Ranta means ‘empowering the South African economy’, and participating learners are groomed to become job creators rather than job seekers.

Winning schools are encouraged to serve as mentors for other schools.

Last year 27 provincial finalist schools were selected from the large number of entries, and schools that used models that took local demographics, including the location, socio-economic environments and grade levels of the school into account, were looked upon favourably.

All finalist schools are also given the opportunity for an educator and two learners to exhibit their project at the BOFE. This provided them with the chance to meet with thousands of visiting business people and thereby gain more exposure for their fledgling businesses.

‘The expo opened up so many opportunities for us. We are very community-focused and we will be sharing our experiences and contacts made at the event so that everyone can benefit,’ said one of the educators.

For more information about the Eskom Business Investment Competition, please visit


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