In the pursuit of excellence, the Newcastle Sakekamer is assisting school learners breaking into the business world.
The Newcastle Sakekamer’s Student Entrepreneurial Competition (SEC) is an initiative where participants prepare a business plan. The top entries are then submitted to a panel of judges, who in turn select the top five business plans.
On Wednesday evening, May 16, the gala event was held at Grey Goose. The learners anxiously waiting for the winner to be announced.
“We started at the beginning of the year, inviting various schools. After all the entrants, we held the Dragon’s Den for the top eight entrants,” explained Jandri Barnard from Newcastle Sakekamer. The Dragon’s Den is a panel of judges who critique the business plans and give the entrants advice on their plans.
Then in April, Newcastle Sakekamer held an Entrepreneurial Day at Newcastle Mall for the top five teams. This was followed by contestants having stalls at the Newcastle Winter Festival.
“I thought it would be a good idea for the programme to go bigger and have the SEC at the Newcastle Winter Festival,” said Winter Festival Marketing Manager, Elmar Gouws. He explained from seeing the business plans evolve from the written plans to the actual product being sold, from a stall, at the Winter Festival was amazing.
“There were struggles, we helped and mentored where we could and seeing the children do well was really great. I would like to thank the children, parents and teachers for all the work put into the project.
Newcastle Sakekamer President, Morne Seaman reminded the learners on what a true entrepreneur is. “What is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is someone who never calls himself an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is someone who is working when others are partying, sacrificing in order to succeed.”
Seaman emphasised that a successful individual was merely someone who never allowed failure to stand in their way. Their view on failure was that it is merely another lesson in the pursuit of success.
Rob Hoatson was the guest speaker of the night. As the CEO of Thirsti Waters, he explained his journey from being a timber farmer to becoming one of the most prolific bottled water franchise owners in the country.
“I looked and saw that bottled water was exploding around the globe,” he said. Upon discovering an extensive water supply on his family’s business property and seeing the need for water in South Africa, he immediately developed a business plan.
Since his idea of opening a bottled water business in November 2014 until now, his business had grown exponentially. His business now supplies retailers such as Checkers and Woolworths. The SEC contestants are now ready to face the business world, following Hoatson’s advice.
Following his speech, the winner of the SEC was announced. Since the SEC’s inception, it was the first time that two people clinched the first-place win.
Sri Prithiraj Ramdas from St Dominics Newcastle and Micheal van den Berg from Amajuba High School both won the event. Ramdas’s business plan saw her selling transferable jewellery. Van den Berg’s plan involved traditional homemade ginger beer.
Winning the event, the two school learners can now look at the future and see how they can develop their plans to make their millions.