Failure has a bad rap

06 October 2017 | Web Article Number: ME20176786

Commerce & Trade
SMME Development & Support
Social Development
Failure has a bad rap

Due to the extreme weather being experienced, the ENGEN Pitch & Polish Durban event, on Saturday 14 October, has been cancelled.

The quote “failure is not an option” was popularised by the movie Apollo 13. It suggests that, in order to succeed, one must avoid failure. But according to those behind the Engen Pitch & Polish workshop and competition programme, this is not a good lesson for life.

“It is an even worse lesson if you choose to start and build a business. It is crucial for entrepreneurs to see failure, not as the opposite of success, but as an inevitable part of the journey towards success,” a statement from the organisers said.

“It is only failure if you don’t pick yourself up again, and learn and grow from your mistakes. The key lies in learning to accept feedback and implement changes based on the feedback. While failure may be scary, it provides the impetus that spurs entrepreneurs towards improvement and growth.”

Failing often, and an acceptance of failure as an inevitable part of the process, and then rising stronger, is the premise on which the Engen Pitch & Polish workshop and competition programme is built. Now in its eighth year, the programme gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to fail - but not give up - as they get constructive feedback, and the opportunity to give their pitch another go.

Sponsored by Engen Petroleum, in association with Nedbank, Raizcorp and local partner, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Engen Pitch & Polish is in pursuit of South African entrepreneurs brave enough to pitch, fail, take feedback, and stand up again – all in an endeavour to perfect their business pitch, attract funding and grow their venture.

Conceived by Allon Raiz, the CEO of Raizcorp, described by The Economist as “Africa’s only genuine incubator,” Engen Pitch & Polish combines the unique elements of workshop and competition – not only do all audience participants learn, they also get to give feedback to the contestants.

“Accepting the inevitable failures, that accompany the journey towards success, is a prerequisite for growing a business. Being an entrepreneur takes courage; you can’t be afraid to fail. Embrace it, as it could be the springboard to your success,” Raiz said.

An entrepreneur, with a polished pitch, has a greater chance of success, and attracting investment, than one who has not taken risks, made mistakes - and come back better than before. This year’s programme will be hosted around the country, culminating in the finale, which will be held in Johannesburg on Thursday 30 November 2017.

The Durban leg of the programme takes place on Saturday 14 October between 8am and 5pm at the Olive Convention Centre, 81 Somtseu Road, North Beach. To RSVP, email

For a list of this year’s other workshops visit

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