TechnoServe/Swaziland Announces 2007 Believe Begin Become Winners

Awards ceremony celebrates the Top 21 entrepreneurs and names six overall winners

DECEMBER 7, 2007 — Malkerns, Swaziland – Swaziland’s second annual business plan competition, Believe Begin Become, came to its joyous conclusion tonight as the six winners were announced at the final awards ceremony at House on Fire in Malkerns. With the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a total of E 525,000 in funds to start up businesses was announced for the six aspiring Swazi entrepreneurs. The event, which brought together local corporate sponsors, government stakeholders, U.S. Embassy representatives, and the local private sector, celebrated the hard work and achievements of the Top 21 entrepreneurs who had advanced to the final stages of the competition.

Mduduzi Dludlu sees a unique market opportunity in the goat milk production sector and was awarded E150,000 to make his business a reality. The other winners include Happiness Mkhatshwa (first runner up), Sifiso Simelane (second runner up), Nkosinathi Dlamini (light manufacturing), Muzi Mkhonta (agribusiness), and Christopher Warburg (tourism), each of whom takes home E 75,000 to jumpstart his or her business.

Believe Begin Become is a business plan competition developed by TechnoServe, an international economic development organization, to support and grow new businesses. It is an incentivized, practical training and business development program to help entrepreneurs turn their business ideas into fundable and implementable business plans.

Initially launched in Latin America, Believe Begin Become has since been implemented in five African countries: Swaziland, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Since 2002 TechnoServe’s business plan competitions have helped launch or expand 205 businesses that have generated over $10 million in additional revenues and created more than 1,200 new jobs.

Partnerships with local sponsors and international supporters are key to the program’s success. Through its support to the Swaziland Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Program, the USAID is the core funding partner of Swaziland’s competition. The Honorable US Ambassador to Swaziland, Maurice Parker, represented USAID at the event and urged all of the Top 21 finalists to “go out and start your businesses. Swaziland needs committed and passionate entrepreneurs like you,” he said.

Local sponsors have also contributed significantly to making Believe Begin Become a success. Standard Bank made the final awards ceremony possible through its generous sponsorship of the event. Other leading sponsors include The Times of Swaziland, Swaziland Beverages, NedBank, Visceral Films and the Mountain IInn, who have also contributed funds and in-kind support to the competition.

TechnoServe’s Country Director, Leslie Johnston, outlined why Believe Begin Become is so important to Swaziland. “With gross domestic product (GDP) slowing and an increasing number of Swazis receiving food aid, Swaziland is facing a serious economic crisis. By identifying and supporting a core group of dynamic, innovative and able Swazi entrepreneurs, we hope to create the next generation of businessmen and women, who will, in turn, create jobs and economic opportunities for the Swazi people.”

Just one year following the first Believe Begin Become competition, the country has already benefited from the businesses which were part of the first annual business plan competition. From January through June 2007, those entrepreneurs generated over $700,000 in revenues, mobilized over $200,000 in capital, and created 62 permanent jobs and 50 part-time jobs.

The winning business plans

Overall Winner: 28-year-old Mduduzi Dludlu is a qualified electrician who developed a passion for goat rearing two years ago. He intends to start DM Farmers, a commercial dairy goat farming business, based in Nokwane.
First Runner-up: 42-year-old Happiness Mkhatshwa has 18 years of experience in the health care sector. Her business will be based in Mbabane and will provide motivational counseling and comprehensive health care, training and consultancy.
Second Runner-up: 25-year-old Sifiso Simelane is a computer engineering graduate from the University of Pretoria and is experienced in web site administration. He plans to launch Sinko Engineering Technologies, an Internet-based recruitment service provider to be based in Manzini.
Tourism Category: 33-year-old Christopher Warburg is a qualified forester. His new business, Karibuni Investments, intends to operate a cruise boat at Maguga Dam.
Agribusiness Category: 25-year-old Muzi Mkhonta is a commerce graduate from the University of Swaziland. He intends to start Greenish Enterprise, a vegetable nursery located at Mshingishingini, Northern Hhohho to supply rural vegetable farmers with seedlings.
Light Manufacturing Category: 33-year-old Nkosinathi Dlamini has six years of experience in garment manufacturing at a supervisory and production management level. He intends to expand his distribution company, Livingstone Investments, to manufacture protective and promotional clothing.
What next?

For the six winners (and indeed, the Top 21), tonight’s event is just the beginning of their journey. Each of the Top 21 receives E 30,000 worth of business support services from local service providers (such as KPMG) to ensure that each business receives the support it needs to thrive. Vouchers can be redeemed throughout 2008. TechnoServe has also committed to providing hands-on support to all those who completed the program.

About TechnoServe: TechnoServe helps entrepreneurial men and women in the developing world to build businesses that provide jobs, income and economic opportunity. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or improve more than 2,000 businesses, benefiting millions of people in more than 30 countries. TechnoServe has been recognized as one of the world's “Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs” by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. A 2007 Financial Times survey rated TechnoServe as one of the world's top five non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for corporate partnerships.

About USAID: The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years. USAID is an independent federal government agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. USAID supports long-term and equitable economic growth and advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting 1) economic growth, agriculture and trade; 2) global health; 3) democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., USAID's strength is its field offices around the world. USAID works in close partnership with private voluntary organizations, indigenous organizations, universities, American businesses, international agencies, other governments, and other U.S. government agencies. USAID has working relationships with more than 3,500 American companies and over 300 U.S.-based private voluntary organizations.