Willem van der Merwe, owner of Africa Biomass Company (ABC), has been crowned the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year in South Africa, the continent’s biggest economic powerhouse.
“Through the establishment of ABC, which specialises in land clearing, wood chipping and wood recycling, van der Merwe has not only created a successful business by clearing landowners unwanted trees, he has also shaped a new industry in South Africa by introducing the novel concept of wood recycling,” the competition spokesperson Christo Botes said.
Following a gruelling judging process and assessment of 15 successful finalists, the organisers have chosen – alongside van der Merwe – the following five 2017 category winners:
2017 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year:
Sizwe Nzima and Siraaj Adams, owners of Iyeza Health, a delivery company that delivered chronic medication from health clinics in Khayelitisha to patients’ homes in the township but evolved into a health logistics company with a wide array of capabilities.
2017 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year:
Itumeleng Phake, founder and owner of Zenzele Fitness Group, a dynamic fitness and wellness company servicing middle and lower LSM groups.
2017 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year:
Nomfundo Mcoyi, founder and owner of Icebolethu Group, an entity that started in 2009 as a funeral parlour in 2009, but has since evolved into a prominent funeral services conglomerate with international presence and around 300 employees.
2017 Job Creator of the Year:
Siphiwe Ngcobo, owner and founder of iLawu Hospitality Group. Founded in 2009 as a humble five-bedroomed B&B in Pietermaritzburg, iLawu Hospitality Group has since expanded to become one of the well-recognised hospitality and catering brands in KwaZulu-Natal.
2017 Innovator of the Year:
Mpodumo Doubada, founder and owner of Pimp My Book, an ever-growing chain of campus stores across the country, which was founded in 2006 on the simple premise of buying and selling used textbooks and making them significantly more affordable to students.
The awards ceremony took place on Wednesday 6 September 2017 in Johannesburg.
Pic: All the 2017 South Africa’s Best Entrepreneurs of the Year. Front row, from left: Willem van der Merwe, Mpodumo Doubada and Siphiwe Ngcobo. Back row, from left: Tumi Phake, Nomfundo Mcoyi and Sizwe Nzima.