The Maverick Awards kicked off in Johannesburg last night, Thursday 26 June. The youth entrepreneur awards are a first for South Africa and were aimed at celebrating youth entrepreneurial excellence and innovation, and to reward the “hard-nosed genius of established young South African entrepreneurs”.
The awards are the brainchild of entrepreneur Bokang Seritsane who is the founder of youth development consultancy company Under 35 Mavericks .
Various corporate sponsors come onboard to offer their support including: Mercedes-Benz and in partnership, Brand South Africa, Wits Business School, the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Intel, with winning startups walking away with prizes valued up to R1-million.
“Government doesn’t create jobs,” said MC Sisa Ntshona, an entrepreneur himself and a specialist in SME development. “Mavericks like these do and they are the ones who are going to build industries.”
“Instead of looking for a job, start one. Find your niche,” Ntshona said, noting that South Africa has the third highest youth unemployment rate in the world.
Among other speakers was the MEC of Infrastructure and Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza (pictured below) who said the Gauteng government supports the entrepreneurial spirit of South Africa’s young businesspeople.
Shedding light on the aim of the awards, Seritsane said: “Innovation has become the blueprint to sustainable entrepreneurial success, handsomely rewarding those that embrace it by affording them creative disruption ability, market access, competitiveness, growth and ultimately grand success.”
The winners in each of the categories were:
Maverick Of The Year – Bevan Ducasse of WiGroup Proprietary
Technology Innovation – WiGroup Proprietary
Service Innovation – iFix
Marketing Innovation – GroundUp Media
Blue Ocean Innovation – SA Cardiosynthetics
Green Innovation – Khwezi Oils
Without Borders – GreenPop
People Planet Profit – GreenPop
Employment Creation – Trademark South Africa
Emerging Maverick (Entrepreneur) – Number 1 Foods
Murray Legg, co-founder of SA Cardiosythetics walked away with the Blue Ocean Innovation award. He said in a previous interview with SME South Africa that Africa itself is a continent with such diverse cultures, challenges and requirements for innovative solutions.
“The people best placed to address these challenges are people on the ground, within that particular settings,” he adds.