Sakekamer selects top business learners

First Place Winner; Sibongakonke Mbhele

Paving the way to creating business savvy youth, the Newcastle Sakekamer held its annual Student Entrepreneurial Competition (SEC).

The SEC started in March after the Sakekamer approached 35 schools, and invited them to participate in the event.

“We had 15 schools enter, where Grade 10 and Grade 11 pupils entered their business plans,” said project leader, Jan Smith.

Once the plans were submitted, they were assessed and the learners with the most promising business plans were invited to a Dragon’s Den, which consisted of reputable business owners, namely Ryno Stucky, NT Oosthuisen, Alice Pool, Sipho Mthambo and Jan Smith.

The learners then discussed their business proposals with the panel and it was determined how feasible they were, as well as what were the shortcomings.

On August 2, the SEC ended and the top eight contenders were invited to a dinner and award ceremony.

Before the winners were announced, the president of the Sakekamer, Japie Myburgh, gave a speech which commended the youth, the schools and the Sakekamer for participating in the initiative.

“Each one of the learners who entered is a winner, as it shows potential and businesses create employment.”

Myburgh said the project required that every participant applied their minds, in assessing risks in business plans.

“I would advise the youngsters to create short term, medium term and long term goals.”


Popular economist, Ulrich Joubert, was the guest speaker on the night and he provided valuable insight on the importance of following the world’s and the country’s economy trends to stay ahead in the business world.

Sibongakonke Mbhele from St Dominic’s Academy clinched first place and was awarded R10 000 for his school.

Mbhele’s business plan was called Restaurant Accessories.

It involved having a buzzer with an LED light mounted on a table, this in turn was linked to a smartwatch which a waiter would wear.

“When a patron requires assistance, they will push the buzzer, the waiter’s watch will then buzz. He or she will then push a button on the watch, the LED will turn green to show the patrons that they are on the way,” said Mbhele.

Excited about the win, he said he had came up with the plan one night when he went out to have supper with friends.

“I wanted to go home and pay for my part of the bill. However, the waitress had her back to me and I joked with my friend that if only I could push a button to get her attention.”

Second place went to Minenhle Nkona, also from St Dominic’s Academy.

Her business plan involved creating a cellphone application, which allowed job seekers to seek employment at a push of a button.

Deah Orrie secured third place with her design of creating a cost effective transfer board which would assist bed ridden people to get into a wheelchair with ease.

The participants were complimented on their ideas and the Sakekamer is eager to see them succeed in the business world.

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Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut

The SBI is a multi-sectoral business organisation and one of four major chamber organisations in South Africa, actively involved in all sectors of the economy, except primary agriculture.