Three KZN SMEs Triumph At The Durban Automotive Cluster Dragons’ Den Event

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The (DAC) Business Accelerator held its "Dragons’ Den" event at The Pearls in Umhlanga Rocks on Tuesday, 4th June 2024. Although this step of the Accelerator is based on the popular Dragons’ Den television show, its intentions and outcomes are very different.


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The panel of ‘Dragons’, Kim Nisbet and Zimvo Mtolo from Toyota South Africa Motors, Thomo Molepo from Hesto Harnesses, and Tansel Ozimamoglu from Toyota-Boshoku South Africa, were all there to find ways to partner with and bolster shortlisted high-potential Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the South African automotive sector.

In opening the event, Takalani Rathiyaya, Head of the Economic Development Unit at eThekwini Municipality, stated the unit’s commitment to supporting initiatives such as this, adding: “The meaningful transformation that is achieved by investing in these young, Black entrepreneurs in the automotive industry, is priceless and we are so proud to be involved in this partnership that also drives localisation.”

According to Kyle Ballard, Head of Accelerators at the DAC, the programme attracted over 100 applications this year.

This is a tribute to the success of the Accelerator over the past six years and the transformative outcomes for both big customers and SMEs alike

He explains that after a rigorous screening process to assess the viability of each business, the top contenders underwent comprehensive capacity-building to understand what it is that big customers are looking for in local suppliers.

The SMEs were also capacitated to develop a compelling business pitch to unlock significant sales opportunities with potential customers. The intensive preparation ensured that the SME participants were primed to present their pitches professionally and with confidence on the day of the Dragons’ Den event.

This made selecting the top three from the twelve emerging, Black-owned SMEs who presented their innovative value propositions, a particularly challenging task for the Dragons.

Eventually, the panel settled on Enermous Investments for the Industry Game Changer award and Sizundawo Engineering for the Best Environmental Sustainability Solution, with both receiving R15 000 in prize money. The Best Overall Business Case, and R25 000, went to Sirius Manufacturing.

However, for the passionate SME participants and esteemed industry leaders, the true prize extended far beyond the day's monetary awards – the real value lay in unlocking sales opportunities, investments, mentorship opportunities and expert coaching to scale their business through the Accelerator.

Tansel Ozimamoglu, Vice President of Business Management at Toyota-Boshoku South Africa, highlighted the shared advantages of the programme:

It has been beneficial and fruitful in finding new suppliers for our latest projects and localisation activities. It was like visiting 12 suppliers in a single day. I will certainly be encouraging other Tier 1 companies to collaborate as it boosts the tenacity of the whole automotive industry.

Ballard expressed his delight concluding, “The Accelerator’s ability to deliver meaningful results for SMEs and transform their businesses into sustainable enterprises is proven and we look forward to many more of these events.”  

There are also three other Accelerator programmes facilitated through the KZN Clothing & Textile Cluster, eThekwini Furniture Cluster and Durban Chemicals Cluster. So, if you are a large corporate wanting to leverage the Accelerator for your local supply chain,  please contact [email protected]

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