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By Devina Haripersad

Senior Business/Finance journalist


SA initiative champions economy’s underdogs

The Artisans of Mzansi competition encourages more young people to join the technical and vocational trades.


Allan Gray Makers, an initiative founded by Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, is on a mission to focus the spotlight on the role of artisans in the country, specifically honing in on their contribution to the economy and the employment sector.

As such, the company on an annual basis hosts the Artisans of Mzansi competition, encouraging more young people to join the technical and vocational trades in an effort to create meaningful employment opportunities in their communities.

Simple but effective

The competition took a simple but effective form.

Business owners, who provide services classified as those rendered by an artisan, were given the opportunity to briefly explain their business model to the audience.

They were then judged by a panel of judges based at Allan Gray Makers.

Winners walked away with prizes in the form of cash injections to develop their businesses.

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The gala dinner event was held at Monte Casino in Fourways on 10 December, and was attended by a number of guests – both supporters of the entrepreneurs, as well as the Allan Gray Makers team.

Senior Manager at Allan Gray Makers, Seth Mulli, applauded the finalists who were selected, and invited them to deliver their pitch, encouraging them to continue working as hard as they have been.

“Artisan entrepreneurs are often at the forefront of innovation and creativity, developing new products, new services, and have a positive impact not just on employment growth but also on our economy,” he said.  

The winners

Walking away with a whopping R200 000 was Thamsanqa Myeza from Imbewenhle Airconditioning and Refrigeration, who won the Mature Phase Category.

The Innovation Phase was won by Mokete Ratlabala from Learn Base (PTY) LTD who received R100 000 for his business.

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Bontle Mmpela from Black Beard Group was the leading lady in the Growth Phase Category, also walking away with R100 000.

For her brilliant idea, Rosemary Dube from Mota Yedu won R50 000 in the StartUp Phase Category.

SME Program Architect Octavius Phukubya congratulated Allan Gray Makers on a campaign that identified the underrated yet most crucial trades in the country.

“Without artisans, we cannot thrive as a country. So, it is so fitting that it is Artisans of Mzansi that we are celebrating today.”

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