Ricochet News

‘Grandfather’ of pitching competitions strengthens SA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

Jun 25, 2019
‘Grandfather’ of pitching competitions strengthens SA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

East London - Considered by many to be the grandfather of pitching competitions, ENGEN Pitch & Polish has remained relevant since its inception in 2009 and, while other pitching competitions come and go, it has stayed the course and is now more popular than ever.

With a strong focus on audience learning and participation, around 40% of the competition’s workshop delegates are people who return year after year and bring along family and friends when they return to the next year’s event.

The opportunity for participants to network with one another is also a drawcard, as is the all-important wild card entrant to the competition (an entrepreneur who is picked on the day by the facilitator and audience members).

Engen has taken Pitch & Polish to many smaller towns across the country, which often tend to be overlooked by major events. A heart-warming by-product of this is the number of regional winners who – when moving on to the semi-final and final rounds in Johannesburg – have been able to experience their very first aeroplane flight and even their first stay in a hotel.

A Pitch & Polish crew of 20 people puts together a high-end production for each leg of the event, making use of the best sound, visual and other equipment available. Each of the towns selected receives the same standard of glamour, finesse and pizzazz as is seen at the final in Johannesburg.

The Pitch & Polish programme – the brainchild of top incubator Raizcorp – would not have seen the success it has were it not for its loyal sponsors, Engen and Nedbank.

Allon Raiz, founder and CEO of Raizcorp and the brains behind the concept, says, “Both Engen and Nedbank provide judging teams as part of their sponsorships. Their judges are as passionate and engaged as Raizcorp is, and they come back year after year. At this point they almost feel like members of the crew.”

“The rate of urbanisation and population growth in South Africa increases the level of unemployment, poverty and despair for the majority of poor South Africans. This situation presents a potential crisis if we do not get the fundamentals right, including education and growing an entrepreneurial culture.

"We must create a supportive environment for these fundamentals to help create jobs and curb poverty. The ENGEN Pitch and polish programme does just that ... entrepreneurial education for thousands of South Africans, says Unathi Njokweni-Magida, Head of Transformation for Engen Petroleum.

She continues, “ Engen’s consistent platinum support for the Raizcorp Pitch & Polish programme is simply driven by its desire to nurture extraordinary entrepreneurs and support people with business ideas. This project allows us to demonstrate our care and support for emerging entrepreneurs, which in turn will enable South Africa’s socio-economic transformation and sustainability."

Alan Shannon, Nedbank Head of Client Engagement: Professional Banking and Small Business, says, “Nedbank is proud of our decade-long relationship with Raizcorp and being a cosponsor of this inspiring event since 2016.. We believe that this sponsorship aligns with our brand purpose to use our financial expertise to enable individuals, families, businesses and society to do good.

"Through our journey with Raizcorp and various other interventions, we support small business in South Africa by providing them with a platform to fuel their entrepreneurial aspirations.”

This year will see the event hosted in eight towns and cities across the country, starting in Johannesburg on 6 July and ending in Burgersfort on 24 August (this is the first time Pitch & Polish is visiting the town), with the semi-finals and final taking place in Johannesburg.

Details on registering for the workshop and entering the competition are available on the website at www.pitchandpolish.com. Everyone is invited!

Follow more RNEWS articles, subscribe to our YouTube channel and for breaking news LIKE us on Facebook. For news on the Western Cape click here.

For great savings on life’s little pleasures visit Bargain Buys!  Know somebody who is getting married, Wedding and Function can assist.  Have kids, then you need to visit Kids Connection. Enjoy food and travel, then visit Home Food and Travel. Need assistance with an online presence, visit Agency One.