SAVCA announces winners at prestigious industry awards ceremony

SAVCA announces winners at prestigious industry awards ceremony

The Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Associate (SAVCA) Industry Awards, which took place in Sandton last week, showcased the achievements of some of the most innovative businesses in the country. In the running were a mix of companies, each nominated for having successfully used invested capital to build thriving enterprises. After much deliberation, the expert panel of judges selected an outright winner in each of the four award categories as well as a special award for the company that demonstrated a clear commitment to sustainability.

Speaking at the ceremony was SAVCA CEO, Tshepiso Kobile, who commented that the nominees as well as the evening’s award winners were all examples of the kind of people who are able to identify the opportunities that exist at the heart of each challenge. “The portfolio companies we have celebrated this year are diverse in terms of the sectors in which they operate in, their business models and their approach to servicing various market segments.

They do, however, share the all-important commonality of being able to develop unique solutions to problems that face communities and society at large. Businesses like these cannot succeed in isolation. They are part of an ecosystem that requires consistent nurturing and support. This is where private equity role-players, and all of us within the various organisations that we represent, can make a tangible difference in building proudly South African success stories,” she said.

HearX wins Start-up Award

First to be announced was the winner in the start-up and venture capital award category. The 4 nominee companies in this category were described as the “beating heart of South Africa’s economic future” and a “hotbed of innovation.” These nominees were also applauded for being engines of job creation, this being one of the country’s most important objectives.

The award went to hearX, an industry-leading health tech company with a mission to make healthy hearing accessible to everyone, everywhere. Using smart technology and data, hearX has built a suite of digital solutions to detect, diagnose, and treat hearing loss around the globe, making cost-effective hearing accessible to those who need it most.

Impact is at the heart of the hearX brand, according to CEO Nic Klopper, who was proud to share that since its inception, hearX has brought hearing healthcare to more than 190 countries globally, touching the lives of over 2.4 million people in underserved communities.

“Platforms such as the SAVCA Industry Awards are an essential part of helping us make a difference in the lives of the 460 million people around the world who suffer from severe hearing loss. With the help of our funders, we have been able to realise our vision of global expansion and ultimately, to democratise healthcare,” he said.

LED Lighting SA presented with the Small Company Award

The small companies category was open to nominees deemed to be “success stories in the making,” who are productive drivers of inclusive economic growth. The companies in this category needed to meet at least two of the following criteria to enter: enterprise value of under R200 million, revenue of under R200 million with positive operating cash flows.

The winner was LED Lighting SA, the continent’s leading lighting solutions provider, with a comprehensive suite of services including lighting design, engineering, manufacturing, supply and installation.

As CEO, Shawn Paul Godfrey, explained, the onset of the pandemic dealt a significant blow to the business. “Once we had done everything we could to prop the business up amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19, we knew it was time for an intervention. We needed external investment and an expert opinion on how to reposition ourselves for strategic change. Our investors answered this call and helped us survive – and thrive – beyond the pandemic.”

Medium Company award presented to TrenStar SA

The third category was dedicated to medium-sized companies, which according to the most recent 2023 SAVCA PE industry survey, was the second-most active market (by number) in terms of deal-making. Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacle that COVID-19 represented, the nominee companies in this category were able to lean on their inherent agility and embrace digital transformation in order to grow and evolve.

TrenStar SA – an industry leader in the design, sourcing and manufacturing of returnable and rental packaging, was the winner in this category. TrenStar SA has distinguished itself by constantly investing in proprietary methodology and software development and building a history of enabling returnable packaging management through barcoding, RFID, and IoT.

As CEO, Tap du Plessis explained, TrenStar has successfully completed a number of funding rounds, which started in 2007. Du Plessis and his management team have since used PE funding as a way of achieving capital growth, creating jobs for hundreds of people, acquiring new large-scale projects, upgrading its facilities, and creating a more environmentally efficient operation.

“We’re especially proud of the jobs we’ve been able to create and sustain over the years – as we work towards the next part of our business journey, we are confident that we will continue to make a positive contribution in business and in terms of social upliftment,” he said.

Amrod scoops Large Company Award

The final predefined award category was for large companies, which by their very nature, are more exposed to the volatility of the macroeconomic environment. The nominee companies in this category have demonstrated unyielding resilience in the face of daunting odds. In their own right, each of the nominees have proven that South African management teams are amongst the most influential and effective in the world.

Amrod, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest total-solution, branded, promotional products provider, was the winner in this category. Founded in 2000, the business operates the most comprehensive and advanced in-house branding facility in Africa and supplies a range of products including apparel, headwear, workwear, and custom packaging.

It currently supplies over 6,500 resellers through its network of 9 showrooms across 5 African countries and is headquartered in an industry-leading 38 000m2 facility in Johannesburg.

Commenting on the award was CEO Amit Brill, who said that PE investment brought a new dimension to the business. “What we needed from our investors was more than funding. We needed strategic thinking – the drive to be more inquisitive, and the hands-on guidance that could steer Amrod in the right direction. We look forward to a future in which we can continue to create jobs and long-term job opportunities where we can grow people and give the skills to build flouring careers.”

Lipa Payments wins new Chairman’s Award

This year’s industry awards also saw the judges introduce a special Chairman’s Award, granted to the portfolio company that demonstrated commitment to impact, beyond the commerciality of the business.

This award was presented to Lipa Payments, an innovative start-up that uses cutting-edge software to enable contactless payments made via a mobile phone. Lipa Payments’ technology has been designed to meet the needs of micro-enterprises in townships and outlying, rural areas where internet connectivity remains a challenge.

As the judges explained, Lipa Payments was deserving of special recognition for its efforts to make payment technology more affordable and accessible to informal merchants.

The ceremony culminated with the presentation of this award, with Kobile expressing her gratitude to the community who contributed to the resounding success of the event. “In the lead up to the industry awards next year, we encourage more firms and fund managers to nominate the portfolio companies that embody the true spirit of local entrepreneurship and the relentless drive to excel,” she concluded.

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