Kids form part of judging panel in adult entrepreneurship competition

Semi-finalists in the 2021 ENGEN Pitch & Polish entrepreneurship competition were thrown a complete curveball. Their surprise? Kiddie judges! Alwande (7), Sadiya (8) and Emma (10) took the judges’ seats on the Pitch & Polish set to hear the pitches of the final four contestants in the competition and let them know what they thought.

These adorable adjudicators attend Radley Private School. Located in Randburg, Radley focuses on moulding the minds of the leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow by embedding entrepreneurial concepts into the curriculum – from grades RR all the way through to matric. Radley’s philosophy is to blend every aspect of school – including the curriculum, classrooms, activities, outings and even parents – into an “entrepreneurial marinade” in which to immerse children so that they are continuously exposed to entrepreneurial thinking from a young age.

The three young judges themselves underwent their own pitching competition experience before being selected. Radley Primary School invited young entrepreneurs from grades 2 to 4 to pitch their businesses or business ideas for a chance to become a kiddie judge in this year’s ENGEN Pitch & Polish competition. Eight business-savvy children were then chosen to present their pitches to Raizcorp CEO, Allon Raiz (also an official – adult – judge in this year’s Pitch & Polish competition), who selected the top three.

As future entrepreneurs, judging a live pitch was a fantastic learning opportunity for the three young judges. The adult semi-finalists were blindfolded before being led into the pitching arena, only to be confronted by an entirely unexpected judging panel. They had only a few seconds to recover from the surprise and quickly adjust their pitches to face their toughest judges yet.

But what was the rationale behind this plot twist? What was the point of pitching to a group of kids? After all, they don’t have the kind of pocket money needed to invest in a business.

“For a child to understand your business, you need to take your business pitch down to its core. If you cannot explain what your business does and why it is a great investment in the simplest way possible, how will you explain it to an investor?”, says Raiz.

Kids can be brutally honest and provide excellent feedback. They see the world through a lens of simplistic innocence. Kids have no fear and will let you know if your business is a good idea or a bad one, if it makes sense or not. Emma’s favourite pitch was that of Bontle Tshole from Baaa Health. “Her business made the most sense and she was able to explain her business really well,” she states.

So, what did the other young judges think? Sadiya comments, “I liked seeing Ouma and Well ‘n Well because I have seen them on other videos which I have watched.” Alwande had a different take on events. “We got to learn about judges and why they judge. My favourite part of being there for the day was judging and the snacks,” she says earnestly.

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

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