Durban entrepreneur crowned winner of 2022 Engen Pitch & Polish competition

In a nail-biting final episode last night, viewers learnt who walked away with the 2022 Engen Pitch & Polish first prize worth R1 million. This annual competition has been running for 12 years and is sponsored by title sponsor Engen, cosponsor Nedbank and organisers Raizcorp.

 

Engen Pitch & Polish is a blend of competition, mentoring and learning. While contestants compete for the ultimate prize, the programme’s main aim is to impart entrepreneurial skills and knowledge – both to the contestants and to viewers who learn alongside the 16 starting contestants.

And the winner is . . .

This year, over several months and four gruelling rounds of competition, it all came down to three finalists – Luvo Gugwana of Green Arch Innovations (Durban), Lucky Mnikathi of Ikhahlamba Trading Enterprise (Pietermaritzburg) and wildcard contestants Sibusiso Twala and Thabane Ledwaba of 2Selai (Johannesburg) who delivered their first and only pitch in the competition.

Judge and Raizcorp CEO Allon Raiz remarks, “Engen Pitch & Polish isn’t just about the pitch; it’s also about the substance of the business and whether the entrepreneur will be able to effectively use the prize money to help scale the business to the next level. That means that the judges had to consider more than the actual pitch, and spent several hours before the pitches scrutinising a range of documentation submitted by the contestants, including their financials.”

All three finalists delivered incredibly strong pitches on the night. First to pitch were the two wildcards who were then followed by Luvo and Lucky. Deciding who should be the ultimate victor was no easy task for this year’s judging panel, Bulela Mkandawire (Engen), Alan Shannon (Nedbank) and Allon Raiz (Raizcorp). Both Lucky and Luvo clearly demonstrated their growth throughout the competition, while the two wildcards delivered a compelling and confident debut pitch to the panel.

In the end, it was Durbanite Luvo Gugwana who took home the laurels with the judging panel praising both his entrepreneurial skills as well as his business acumen. Luvo’s social enterprise, Green Arch Innovations, adopts smart and sustainable food-production systems, such as aquaponics, to help alleviate poverty and food insecurity in rural and urban settlements. His also offers a franchise model for his aquaponics system. As the winner, Luvo walks away with R650 000 in cash which will be paid out over two years as he achieves the business milestones he laid out in his pitch, as well as a bursary worth R350 000 for a full two-year Raizcorp incubation programme.

“I am extremely honoured to be receiving this award,” says Luvo. “I am earnestly grateful for the recognition I have received for my work. I recognise that winning comes from taking action. I have faced several challenges on my way here but each one of them has only strengthened me to make me the person I am today . . . and the person I am going to be tomorrow. To my fellow contestants, we are all winners in our ambitions of making the world a better place.”

The first runner-up was Lucky Mnikathi who takes home R100 000 in cash, while wildcards Sibusiso Twala and Thabane Ledwaba walked away with R50 000 in cash.

Upskilling entrepreneurs

Says Bulela Mkandawire, Engen’s Head of Brand and Sponsorship, “Engen recognises the crucial role that small business can play in helping address our unsustainable levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment. This is why our B-BBEEE and transformation drive in large part focuses on the development and support of emerging business owners. We believe that entrepreneurship is a crucial catalyst that can change the socio-economic landscape of the country. It is a conviction that drives our longstanding support of Engen Pitch & Polish, where every year we are inspired by the diverse ideas and solutions focus of the contestants. These passionate South Africans will go forth and drive positive societal change by uplifting, empowering, and inspiring their fellow community members. As Engen, we are humbled to play a small part – through Engen Pitch & Polish – on their respective journeys to change the world.”

 

Alan Shannon, Nedbank’s Executive of Customer Engagement, Small Business Services & Private Clients says, “As Nedbank, we continue to do good for entrepreneurs and understand that they need our support, now more than ever. Small businesses play a vital role in our societies and the country at large. They are the lifeline of our communities and contribute immensely to the country’s GDP. Witnessing the great talent year in and year out on this programme proves that as a country, we have great entrepreneurs that have potential to help grow our economy. The ideas presented this year have been great and so innovative. I’d like to encourage entrepreneurs to never give up on their business ideas and remember that there are resources available to help them start and grow their businesses. Nedbank remains committed and passionate about helping to rebuild our economy by supporting entrepreneurs through initiatives such as Engen Pitch & Polish.”

Share with a friend.

Get Our Best Content in Your Inbox

Stay ahead of the game by subscribing to our newsletter and receive the latest tips, strategies, and resources to take your business to the next level.