After a five-year hiatus, the ninth annual ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme returned to eMalahleni on Saturday, 29 September 2018. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the entrepreneurs who attended are serious about business, education and betterment. This year saw more and more attendees travelling from different cities for a second chance to learn and to pitch in hopes of being chosen as a contestant.

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 11 000 entrepreneurs improve the way they pitch their businesses to potential investors.

Karin Prinsloo, Terminal Manager from Engen Petroleum Ltd, shared her impressions, “This programme is inspiring. It is crucial that entrepreneurs focus on the sustainability of their businesses and learn to run their business, or it will run them.”

The day’s winning formula began with Justin Cohen, best-selling author and international speaker, explaining the truth about motivation and the value of delivering a polished pitch. The workshop aims to teach participants how to develop a well-rounded and investor-ready pitch. The interactive nature of the event ensures that everyone participates by asking questions and practising on each other. In this way, all benefit, as the facilitator and attendees offer guidance, advice and direction to help shape the pitches.

For example, through the pitch of Jenna Bowker, who came in second place with her eco-friendly pest-control business, the delegates saw a well-rounded and strong pitch which stated upfront the
business offering, the target market, and her background. Including a clear definition of the problem and how the service solves that problem was a key learning from Jenna’s pitch.

Siphiwe Mahlangu, who has a stainless-steel manufacturing business, developed a stronger pitch over the course of the day by including a more specific target market and by weaving in his credibility and experience. A key lesson is that an entrepreneur cannot be everything to everyone.

The learning imparted to Lucia Manthata, who delivered the winning pitch for her pre-school and was the Wild Card chosen on the day, was the impact of sharing a story that connects to the audience. By knowing her services, business model, differentiating factors and numbers, her pitch stood out as it reflected her business acumen.

Timothy Mashego, who has a manufacturing business, built a more polished pitch by becoming clearer about expressing his core business. However, to illustrate expertise in an industry, deep research must be done on the competitive environment.

Through Lethabo Tema, a mining consultant, the delegates saw how sharing facts and stats about the industry are effective and impactful. However, they must be directly relevant to the business. Her final pitch saw her winning third place.

“Nedbank strongly believes in the development of small business. An important lesson highlighted in today’s workshop is for entrepreneurs to surround their businesses with professionals that they can collaborate with, for growth,” comments Treston Brown, Relationship Manager from Nedbank.

Insider tip: Self-motivation is key and powered from within, by having purpose and taking action. Are you an entrepreneur in your head or in reality? The difference is taking the first step, which must be specific and practical.

As the 2018 winner of the eMalahleni leg of ENGEN Pitch & Polish, Lucia Manthata won R6 000 and a week of training at Raizcorp in Johannesburg worth R150 000. She also has the opportunity to progress to the semi-final and become the ultimate 2018 ENGEN Pitch & Polish winner and receive further cash injections and other prizes.

Congratulations to everyone for attending, for taking action and for being the light that shines on the local entrepreneurial environment.

For more information, visit www.pitchandpolish.com.

In this picture (from left to right):
• Siphiwe Mahlangu, manufacture stainless steel products, from Middleburg
• Lethabo Tema, mining consultant, from Witbank
• Lucia Manthata, pre-school, from Nelspruit
• Jenna Bowker, eco-friendly pest control, moving to Nelspruit
• Timothy Mashego, manufacturing, from Witbank