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ENGEN Pitch & Polish and UN Women celebrate women entrepreneurs


Recently, ENGEN Pitch & Polish was privileged to collaborate with UN Women to present the very first women-only edition of the national pitching workshop and competition which was attended by over 300 female entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs.

Kicking off the event, Engen Petroleum’s Head of Transformation, Unathi Njokweni-Magida spoke about gender transformation, asking, “How do we blaze a trail and remove all the barriers that are blocking us from growing into powerful businesswomen? The power behind the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme has made us realise that we can share it with special women who want to make a difference, who want to grow and become more confident in pitching their ideas. We are going to spend the day teaching each other how to best position our wonderful ideas, how to create sustainable business models and change the narrative of South Africa.”

Regina Gounden, Nedbank Small Business and Professional Banking Provincial Manager, also spoke saying, “When you upskill a woman, you actually grow a nation.” She went on to stress the critical importance of proper financial management for a business to succeed. “Money is not the root of all evil … Bad management of money is the root of all evil. We need to be smart with our money; our behaviour needs to change.”

Workshop delegates were also addressed by Ayanda Mvimbi of UN Women who said that the organisation is working hard to encourage the government and private sector to procure from female-owned businesses which need to increase their visibility in the marketplace. She added, “It is also important that women buy from each other. When we collaborate in numbers, we can make a difference!”

The interactive and engaging workshop that followed was facilitated by Raizcorp Learning Quality Manager, Yasmeen Alli, whose trademark energy and passion were infectious. Over the course of the day, Yas and the audience worked to help polish the pitches of five pre-selected contestants by taking them through eight key aspects of pitching to investors before they presented their final competition pitches to a panel of three judges.

Lebo Skhosana of Yellow Rice (which offers block chain and software solutions) learned that you should never assume that everyone understands your industry’s terminology and jargon. Make sure you explain your business model in a way that a six-year-old child would understand and be clear on how it will make money. Fellow contestant, Anne-Marie Mandtaumbi of Mekluk Global Trading, faced questions about her business model. Her company has two business units – one focusing on freight services and the other on digital printing. She was advised that splitting her focus between two seemingly unconnected business concerns is a strategic mistake.

The third-place winner was Samkelisiwe Chunda of Sibayeni Metrofarming which offers vertical farming infrastructure. She was advised to be more specific about the funding she needs, and detail the costs of the equipment she needs and how it will improve production. The judges also felt that her model needed more refinement and that she needs to establish a core area of focus.

Makobeng Mampana of Jovial Productions, which is a food-production business that specialises in sauces and jams, came in second. She learned that she should share what makes her products unique and was reminded that if she is pitching to investors, she needs to pitch the business and not her products.

First place went to Natasha Warries of Bizpro Chem which manufactures and distributes a forecourt cleaner to filling stations. Natasha delivered a very strong pitch which was enhanced by her powerful story-telling ability. She was, however, advised to be faster and better with her numbers and that she should have her product SABS tested and approved. Natasha now moves on to the second round of the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme taking place in Johannesburg in September where she will go up against eight other regional winners as they compete for the ultimate pitching crown.

Says Agnes Phiri of UN Women, “The experiential training model used allowed women to interact and provided them with a platform to learn how to pitch their businesses. The transformation of the contestants from the morning session to pitching to judges was incredible. UN Women is thankful for the opportunity to partner with ENGEN Pitch & Polish to empower women-owned business.”

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