Newcastle hosts popular business pitch contest

19 September 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201811872

SMME Development & Support
Newcastle hosts popular business pitch contest
From left: Zamaswazi Khulu, environmental consultant; Ntombikayise Nkosi, geological consultant; Riaz Kajee, courier business idea; Charity Modise, events business and Sikhumbuzo Nkosi, labour law consultant

THE Newcastle leg of the ninth annual Engen Pitch & Polish programme was held recently, the first time the event has been hosted in the city since its inception.

This national entrepreneurial workshop and competition – hosted in partnership with Engen Petroleum Ltd, Nedbank, Raizcorp and Caxton Local Media – has helped over 10 000 entrepreneurs improve the way they pitch their businesses to potential investors.

Thandi Ngxonga, Process Safety Specialist, from Engen Petroleum said the programme aimed to assist local communities transform their business ventures. “This exposes entrepreneurs to enterprise development training and critical thinking skills that will help them grow their business ideas.”

The workshop aims to teach participants how to develop a well-rounded and investor-ready pitch. At each event, five contestants pitch their businesses while the facilitator and attendees offer guidance, advice and direction to help shape the pitches.

“This is where entrepreneurs are grown, and it is entrepreneurs who will grow this country, solve problems and create employment,” said Justin Cohen, an author and international speaker, who addressed the event on the importance of a well-polished pitch.

One of those who pitched on the day was Charity Modise, who runs an events business. Delegates learned that sometimes what entrepreneurs need is clients and not necessarily funding, and also how important it is to do research into your competitors and their offering and tools.

Sikhumbuzo Nkosi, with his labour law consultancy, presented a strong pitch. However, what he and the audience learned was that using a variety in pace and tone would have helped to make his pitch more impactful and easier to follow.

Sharing one’s accreditations can also be a powerful tool, as seen in the pitch of Ntombi Nkosi, a geological consultant. It also underlined the need to explain the differentiating factor in your business and be very specific about your finance model. It also demonstrated the importance of explaining a complex industry in a way that makes sense to a potential investor.

The feedback that Zamaswazi Khulu received was to clearly explain her environmental consultancy business by defining its value. A business that offers a product or service that is in high demand yet has low supply is music to the ears of an investor, but you need to be sure to back up your claims with stats and facts.

The winning pitch was delivered by the wild card entry of the day, someone chosen by the audience.

Riaz Kajee has a tech-focused courier business model and his pitch illustrated a clear business model and had a relatable story. His pitch was judged to have reflected the learnings from the day and well structured in its delivery.

He won R6 000 and a week of training at Raizcorp in Johannesburg worth R150 000. He also has the opportunity to progress to the semi-finals and become the ultimate 2018 Engen Pitch & Polish winner and receive further cash injections and other prizes.

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