TechnoServe/Swaziland Announces Winners of Tourism-Themed Believe Begin Become Business Plan Competition

SEPTEMBER 26, 2008 — Ezulwini, Swaziland—The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), TechnoServe, local sponsors and partners awarded a total of E1 million (U.S. $123,000) in prizes during the 2008 Believe Begin Become business plan competition final awards ceremony held at the Royal Villas, Ezulwini. This year’s competition focused on the Swazi tourism industry with the goal of creating new, diverse tourism products to attract more visitors to the Kingdom of Swaziland.

The ceremony was memorable for the grand prize winner Mandla Masuku, who received E125 000 (U.S. $15,400) to start his tour-guide business, Ekhaya Tours, catering for a niche market in French tourists. His tour packaging will also include a lunch picnic of organic vegetables supplied by his local community at Ejubukweni.

Other winners across five categories were:



Runner Up


Allyson James (Willows Lodge)

Tony Santos (Shield Group)


Zandile Dlamini (Mbalazi Day Spa)

Thembisa Dlamini (TNS Mobile and Bush Spa)


Vernon Puttkammer (Bulembu Country Lodge)

Vulincwala Masilela  (Hot Air Balloon tours)

Tour Operator

Joshua Mdluli (Woza Nawe Tours)

Rodney Young (Adventure Events)


Lyndon Hermansson (Lwandle Cultural Centre)

Sibongile Gray (Graystone Eco Park)

In addition, the top 25 finalists will each receive E10 000 (U.S. $1,200) to access services needed to grow their businesses.

The Believe Begin Become program aimed at developing the Swazi tourism industry was launched in February. Over the past three months, all the eligible participants—which include aspiring entrepreneurs and existing tourism companies—completed a rigorous program, comprised of a “mini-MBA” course and tourism training provided by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) called SMART (SME Market Access to Regional Tourism). During this period each participant developed a business plan with guidance from personal mentors. In late August, a core group of 36 finalists orally explained heir business plans to a panel of four judges.

TechnoServe’s Country Director, Leslie Johnston, congratulated all the finalists for completing the program. “This year’s competition required a big time commitment from the participants, most of whom are either employed or running their businesses. Managing to balance their obligations during this period and submit such quality business plans shows the calibre of entrepreneurs in Swaziland,” she said.

Believe Begin Become is a component of the Swaziland Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programme (SWEEP) primarily funded by USAID and managed by TechnoServe. Dr. Tina Dooley-Jones, Regional Economic Growth Office Chief USAID/Southern Africa said the agency appreciates this year’s focus on tourism, which is growing globally and has great potential for direct and indirect job creation, especially as the soccer 2010 World Cup in South Africa is expected to attract scores of international visitors to Sub-Saharan Africa.

TechnoServe also partnered with the Swaziland Tourism Authority to sponsor 30 participants to attend the annual Tourism Indaba held in Durban, South Africa in May.

Critical to success of the competition and training program is the tourism-specific training offered by International Finance Corporation. IFC Program Manager Adrienne Harris, who facilitated the SMART training, said “IFC is aware of the important role that small businesses play in the tourism industry, and as such, is always eager to partner with organizations such as Technoserve to assist in building capacity in the industry.”

Following the competition, TechnoServe will continue to provide after-care support to each of the 36 graduates to ensure that each is able to start or grow their businesses.

About TechnoServe: TechnoServe is leading a movement that empowers people in the developing world to build businesses that break the cycle of poverty. Growing enterprises generate jobs and other income opportunities for poor people, enabling them to improve their lives and secure a better future for their families. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or expand thousands of businesses, benefiting millions of people in more than 30 countries. The Financial Times has rated TechnoServe one of the top five NGOs for corporate partnerships. Charity Navigator has also awarded its highest Four Star ranking to TechnoServe.

About USAID: The U.S. Agency for International Development provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance worldwide. USAID programs from the American people aim to strengthen Southern Africa socially, politically and economically.

About IFC: The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private-sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC's vision is that people should have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries.

For more information, please contact: Luba Vangelova, Director of Marketing and Communications, TechnoServe/Washington, DC Tel:             +1 202-719-1302      ; Email: