The Burgersfort leg of the ENGEN Pitch & Polish workshop and competition took place on Saturday, 24 August 2019. It was attended by entrepreneurs from across Limpopo province. Since its inception ten years ago, Pitch & Polish has helped over 16 000 entrepreneurs learn to pitch like a pro. This year was the first time the workshop was held in Burgersfort. The event was made possible through the generosity of the sponsors Engen, Nedbank, Raizcorp and Caxton Local Media. The entrepreneurs in attendance displayed innovative thinking.

The ENGEN Pitch & Polish workshop sees participants and five contestants taken through an interactive pitching workshop facilitated by Justin Cohen, a business strategist, international speaker and world-leading expert on pitching for business.

Justin opened Saturday’s event with an inspirational talk during which he said that regardless of the economic environment, there are problems to solve and wealth to be created. In fact, during tough economic times, there are even more opportunities because there are more problems to solve. He also touched on the need for entrepreneurs to be optimistic. On average, entrepreneurs fail 3.8 times before they succeed. By cultivating a sense of optimism and self-motivation, entrepreneurs can more easily view failures and setbacks as opportunities to learn and then move on. “Research has shown that a key factor for success is self-motivation,” Justin shared.

During the workshop, the delegates, together with four pre-selected contestants and one wild card contestant, were taken through eight key aspects of pitching for investment. (Wild cards are chosen on the day when audience members are invited to pitch their ideas or businesses to the room which then votes on who should become a contestant.)

The first half of the workshop ended with the first round of practice pitches by the five contestants. Each was asked to deliver a 30-second pitch as a basepoint to measure against their final competition pitches later in the day. The second half of the workshop was followed by the actual competition during which contestants delivered the pitches they had worked on throughout the course of the day.

The process resulted in important lessons for both the workshop delegates and the five contestants. Contestant Simphiwe Mokgawa, from Polokwane, who manufactures alcoholic beverages from fruit and vegetables, was advised that proof of concept must be established before investing in equipment to mitigate the risk. The importance of knowing the financial numbers is critical, as one cannot do business without them. Sphiwe Ntwampe, the wild-card contestant, offers a queuing service to Burgersfort residents. He learnt that in order to grow he needs to work on his pricing model and look for mentorship.

Both Kgodiso Lebea and Maimela Mohale, were named second place winners for their businesses. Through, Kgodiso, from Tzaneen, who manufactures and sells moringa based spice, the participants saw the value in bringing products to sample and how having a clear focus and vision can open doors instantly. Maimela, from Polokwane, has made great strides with his hydroponics business. His pitch demonstrated the strength in research and in having a deep understanding of one’s target market.

The winning pitch was delivered by Dr Mashela Mokgabudi, a Polokwane resident, who developed, manufactures and distributes menstrual cups. Her confident pitch integrated the learnings from the day where shedemonstrated an in-depth knowledge of her business and vision for growth. Mashela now moves on to the second round of the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme taking place in Johannesburg in September, where she will go up against eight other regional winners as they compete for the ultimate pitching crown.

The competition was judged by Benny Thobejane (Engen Petroleum’s Transformation & Stakeholder Engagement Specialist), Marcia Muthathi (Nedbank’s Investment Specialist Limpopo) and Jodi Lynn Karpes (Managing Director of GreenQueen Communications). During the competition phase, contestants were given three minutes to pitch after which the judges asked clarifying questions – another opportunity for learning – and then delivered their feedback.

“This is what ENGEN Pitch & Polish is about! Innovation!” Benny enthused. “Today was the highlight of the year as the innovative ideas were backed up with numbers, facts and research. The contestants and delegates were all participative, professional and switched on.”

Congratulations to everyone for attending the Burgersfort leg of the tenth annual ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, and for their dedication in learning to pitch like a pro.

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In the picture: PP19 – Bft – Benny Kgodiso Mashela Marcia Maimela Jodi – 24 Aug 2019:

  • Benny Thobejane
  • Kgodiso Lebea
  • Dr Mashela Mokgabudi
  • Marcia Muthathi
  • Maimela Mohale
  • Jodi Lynn Karpes