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Success story: Young student and retail worker turned successful entrepreneur

Success story: Young student and retail worker turned successful entrepreneur

It has helped me refine how I articulate what I say when speaking to people about who we are and what we do” - Bontle Tshole of Baaa Health

Working long hours in the retail industry while studying at university, Bontle Tshole of Baaa Health noticed a lack of healthy lunch options available to her at the mall. Having grown up in a home where her parents fed her balanced, nutritious food, she could not accept this. Bontle started packing her own lunches and Baaa Health was born. Baaa Health produces smoothies, juices and energy balls – a healthy alternative to chocolate.

Scrolling through social media, she came across the 2021 ENGEN Pitch & Polish competition and decided to enter for the opportunity it would present to grow her business in both capacity and reach.

When asked about her growth journey in the competition so far, Bontle says, “It has been great. It has helped me refine how I articulate what I say when speaking to people about who we are and what we do. We are always pitching our business. Even when speaking to family and friends, we are in a pitch session.” She continues, laughing, “After one of my pitches I was really nervous because I stumbled over my words a few times. I thought I would be voted off but my guide (mentor) reminded me that I am not being judged on my capacity to remain calm, but rather the content of my pitch.”

She describes her experience as eye opening, inspiring and fun. “Thank you for the opportunity! What an amazing experience,” she says enthusiastically in a message to the ENGEN Pitch & Polish sponsors. “Even if I don’t win, I have learned. Sometimes learning is more valuable than winning,” she adds.

All previous episodes of the 2021 ENGEN Pitch & Polish competition are available for viewing at www.pitchandpolish.com. New episodes are released every Tuesday evening at 19:00.

More information about the competition:

Top four contestants share top lessons

Over the past two months, South Africa has been watching 16 contestants vying for a first prize worth R1 million in the first-ever digital edition of the much-loved ENGEN Pitch & Polish competition. Sponsored by Engen Petroleum, Nedbank and Raizcorp, this year the programme has provided each contestant with a learning programme as well as their own business guides (mentors) to help them polish their pitches to perfection.

Over the first two rounds of pitching and polishing, the starting 16 contestants have been whittled down to the final four. We caught up with the four semi-finalists to find out what their most valuable learnings have been over the course of the competition.

Get your systems and finances right

“Our biggest takeaway is definitely the importance of having the correct systems and technology implemented in our business to be able to scale smoothly,” says Pieter du Plessis of GUDGU which manufactures sugar- and alcohol-free cordials. He adds, “We didn’t know our numbers and, now that we do, it has changed the way we do business completely.”

Understand the numbers

“The key factor that any business needs to understand is the numbers,” agrees Ouma Tema of Plus-Fab, which produces a clothing range for fashion-savvy, plus-size women. She continues, “Sales minus cost of sales equals gross profit; gross profit minus tax and overheads equals net profit. It sounds basic but understanding this more clearly gave me a better picture of where I am, where I want to go, and what I need to do to get there.”

Know yourself and your market

Bontle Tshole is the owner and founder of Baaa Health which produces healthy juices, smoothies and snacks. She says, “You have to be able to articulate what makes you different, what makes you stand out, and what would make you attractive to customers,” she says. “Know what your value is and refine it as you go.”

Have a strategy

“The competition changed my whole view on business,” says Andile Sasanti of Sasanti King which produces the Well ‘n Well range of vegetable drinking yoghurts. He continues, “I have been operating from eKasi with no clear strategy on sales or distribution or just business in general. The programme has exposed me to a whole new way of approaching things.”

The four semi-finalists will be battling it out for the top two places from Tuesday, 7 September. Not only will the winner walk away with a cash prize of R650 000, he or she will also receive a bursary worth R350 000 to attend a full two-year business development and growth programme from leading incubator Raizcorp. The runner-up will receive R100 000 in cash, and the second runner-up R50 000.

You can follow the Pitch & Polish journeys of all the contestants and catch up on previous episodes at www.pitchandpolish.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @PitchAndPolish.

 

 

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