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Competition calls for SA's best business plans

Wednesday, 09 July 2008

South Africa's biggest competition for entrepreneurs with start-up ideas is on the go again, offering R50 million in funding to this year's Business LaunchPad winners. 

Images by Gallo Images / www.gettyimages.com Supported by FNB, Enablis Entrepreneurial Network and the Small Enterprise Development Agency, the competition is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship in the country by unearthing the best business ideas and fast-tracking their growth.

LaunchPad 2008 director Martin Feinstein says, "Working capital is the lifeblood of a business, yet thousands of entrepreneurs who have great, viable ideas struggle to get their business off the ground because they can't get funding, or the cost of funding is too high."

Following a nationwide search for business ideas, 30 winners will be selected to present their ideas to a panel of local and international business experts. Winners will be announced at an event in January 2009.

Apart from funding, winners will also receive laptops, cellphones, software and business training.

Speaking to Business Times, 2007 winner Ntlatleng Mphaga said, "Winning the competition was truly the bridge I needed. I had a good idea, a good product and lots of enthusiasm, but I just wasn't getting anywhere with my business concept.

"The funding has made it possible for me to run a professional business, buy the right equipment and promote the product. I can honestly say that without the competition, I would still be working in a job and not as an entrepreneur."

Mphaga's business, Healthy Legume Foods, produces and distributes affordable protein foods made from beans.

Business categories in which one may enter the competition include manufacturing, construction, agriculture, tourism, transport & logistics, IT, media, marketing & communication, personal services and business and professional services.

This year's competition will also address entrepreneurship gaps in particular sectors. Spier Earth Capital has donated R10 million towards the total prize money for 'green' business ideas, that address key environmental concerns from a commercial perspective.

The 2008 competition closes on the 30th of September 2008 (30th of August for Free State entrants).

For more information, contact the LaunchPad helpdesk on 083 913 3362 or visit the competition website.

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