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Innovators wow at Durban’s pitching den

From 80 applications, 15 entrepreneurs were shortlisted to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges – all vying for R100K in cash prizes to be won.

SEVERAL hopefuls faced a panel of judges to pitch their business ideas at the 2023 Innovate Durban Pitching Den on Tuesday, March 28, at Innovation CoLab located at the Umkhumbane Entrepreneur Centre in Cato Manor from 09:00 to 14:00.

The exciting event brings the thrill of TV shows like Dragons Den to the 031 and with R100K in prizes to be won, the stakes are certainly high.

After an intense morning of pitching, the winners were announced. In first place was Senele Goba, founder of 4IR Innovations, which specialises in innovative solutions for industrial automation and education. Second place went to Farai Dziike and partner Nelisa Mabaso of Bio Mhlaba Brick Company and in third position was Francis Djumo of Royaume: Smart Inflow Meter.

Andile Ntombela pitches to the panel of judges.


Also read: Nominate your favourite businesses and you could win

“We received an overwhelming response of over 80 applicants to our callout for participants. The candidates were shortlisted to 15 participants, who went through rigorous pitch training and coaching sessions ahead of the event. They will have only a few minutes to impress the judges with their innovative business ideas, and the winning pitching innovators will be awarded cash prizes of over R100K on the day,” said Sithabile Cele, marketing and events manager for Innovate Durban.

Winners pictured at the event.

She added that the session also offers innovators a chance to network with corporates and investors.

“The goals of this initiative include highlighting innovators and innovative start-ups in the KwaZulu-Natal region as well as providing a platform for networking opportunities for innovators while linking them with venture capitalists and angel investors.”


Francis Djumo and Benjamin Dlamini await the results of their pitches.

Also read: The Pav Kids Board – exposing young minds to brands and business world

The panel of judges for the Innovate Durban Pitching Den, included Ramsay Daly, Co-CEO of Ikhokha, and Justice Matarutse, programme manager of Innovation at eThekwini Municipality.

  • Watch Caxton Local Media sites for a follow-up article on some of the innovators at the event. We spoke to first-place winner Senele Goba to find out more about her work in industrial automation and education. She builds science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resources and visits schools to share her knowledge.


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