Wits university team wins global business challenge


The lives of four young black South Africans have been changed forever after winning the South African leg of the CIMA Global Business Challenge 2012 (GBC 2012).

With the glittering lights of Sandton business CBD behind them and the sign of Wall Street Restaurant within view, SA?s youngest business celebrities sealed the deal in a nail biting finish at the Holiday Inn Rivonia, to be South Africa?s third winners to go forward to this annual global business challenge for undergraduates, now in its sixth year.

The competition sponsored by Barclays and ABSA Capital and organised by CIMA (The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants was started in China as a way to highlight young business talent and give undergraduates experience in developing business recommendations on a case study and presenting their findings and recommendations to a panel of judges and in front of a live audience.

This is the third year that South Africa has competed. Ghana and Zambia joined the competition for the first time this year.

During the event, the final four teams each presented their business case on this year?s case study, which revolved around a television production company and answered questions from the judges.

This year?s team from Witwatersrand University, Team Monomotapa, comprising Panashe Chigumadzi, Simbarashe Nyatsambo, Khetinkosi Dlamini and Sizwe Nxumalo, were named as the overall winners. The quartet pipped the other finalists from North West University, UNISA and the University of Johannesburg.

The South African Winners of the Global Business Challenge 2012, from left, Khetinkosi Dlamini, Panashe Chigumadzi, Sizwe Nxumalo and Simbarashe Nyatsambo.

They are now about to jet off for the trip of a lifetime to meet and compete against the top undergrads from 22 other countries at the Global Finals in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Other teams taking part in the global final will come from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, the Middle East, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Vietnam and Zambia.

The Global Finals take place over two days in multiple venues and in a series of knock-out rounds on July 23 and 24.

Says Samantha Louis, CIMA Africa Regional Director: "Last year?s winners from University of Johannesburg reached the final four, surviving all the knock-out rounds in Beijing during Global Business Challenge 2011. We have huge hopes that this team will go all the way and bring back the global winners title. They were clear winners in the country final and what makes it more remarkable is that they did this without the support of a mentor and whilst keeping up with their studies.

"If this is the quality of future business leaders in South Africa, I am very hopeful for a positive and dynamic future for our country.'

Winning the global title would be a great result, as Ms Louis announced on the night that South Africa has been named by CIMA headquarters in London as the host country for the GBC 2013 with an expected 25 countries likely to participate. This will bring a proverbial hotbed of the world?s young business talent to South Africa for the global finals.

Sponsor ABSA Capital COO, Charles Russon said: "It is a privilege as sponsors to be involved with this initiative. The first year that I attended the event, I did not know what to expect, but came away thinking "what a fantastic experience?. An event of this nature is of fundamental importance to an organisation like ABSA Capital.

Investing in the youth and education is what I term the sweet spot. It?s where business and education meet.

"It is a significant sponsorship for us, in that business, finance and accounting skills are a scarce resource in South Africa and it is a national imperative to rectify this. As sponsors of Global Business Challenge we believe we?ve done something important for the country.'

The final four teams - Team Botlhale Solutions from University of Johannesburg, Team Unisa1 from UNISA, Team Exorior Jumbe from North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus) and Team Monomotapa from the University of Witswatersrand - were selected following the first round of the competition. This required the teams to submit a detailed report analysing the case study on a television content production company and make recommendations to the board of that company.

A total of 74 teams registered in South Africa for the challenge this year, and 38 teams successfully submitted reports for the first round.

The national finalists battled it out idols-style in front of an audience and a panel of four judges representing CIMA and the sponsors, Barclays and Absa Capital. Other sponsors include CharterQuest and Coach Approach.

The panel included David Cropper, CIMA Africa Regional Board member and Academic Director, Botswana Accountancy College; Charles Russon, Chief Operating Officer, ABSA Capital; Cheryl James, CEO, FASSET; and Taher Jhavary ACMA, CGMA and founding member of Business Transformation and a member of the CIMA Africa Regional Board.

On the preceding day, all teams participated in an intensive business coaching and personal development workshop from Coach Approach as part of the prizes and in preparation for the finals.

Says Samantha Louis, CIMA Africa regional director: "The Global business challenge was launched in South Africa in 2009 as a way to encourage business and strategic thinking amongst university undergraduates - South Africa?s future business leaders.

Entries this year show a 57% growth on last year, while the number of reports received grew by 26% year on year compared to 2011. This demonstrates that the Global Business Challenge is growing in stature and that awareness of the competition is growing year on year on campuses around the country.'