2019 Southern Africa’s Top Entrepreneurs Announced in Johannesburg

Written by on January 10, 2020

Southern Africa’s top three entrepreneurs were named at the 22nd Annual EY World Entrepreneur Awards gala dinner in Johannesburg on Wednesday 13 November 2019.

CEO’s, Founders, and leading entrepreneurs attended the Southern Africa programme of the world’s most prestigious business awards for entrepreneurs: the Global EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™. Annual national and regional awards programmes are run in more than 145 cities across 60 countries culminating in the grand, global awards final in Monte Carlo to recognise the world’s top entrepreneurs.

Largely unconstrained by the mechanisms and processes of corporate entities, entrepreneurs go-to-market capability and ability to scale innovative ideas is far quicker than their corporate counterparts. The programme makes a difference through the way it recognises this entrepreneurial agility, inspired vision, leadership and achievement.

Finalists are selected amongst entrepreneurs who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as entrepreneurial spirit, value creation, strategic direction, impact, innovation and purpose-driven leadership. They include traditional entrepreneurs who are founders and leaders of high-growth companies. They also are transformational people who may not have started their company but have been essential to its success.

This year’s finalist group and of course, the winners, have built businesses across all sectors offering innovation and exceptional acumen and leadership on the topics of organisational culture, upskilling the unemployed youth, tourism and conservation, effective food supply chain management, online payment and credit systems, insurance and insurance underwriting, the owner and operator hotel model and property and real estate across Africa.

The 2019 Southern Africa winners in the Master, Exceptional and Emerging categories are:

Master category winner: Craig Irvine: Managing Director, Irvine’s Group.

Irvine’s is a poultry focused company with operations in six countries. They supply and support nutritional, animal health, Cobb Genetics and supporting products across 22 countries in Sub Saharan Africa.

Master category judging panel:

  • Judging Chair: Peter Mountford: Chief Executive Officer, Super Group and EY World Entrepreneur Award Master Winner 2016
  • Ridhwan Khan: Chief Executive Officer, Mobicel and EY World Entrepreneur Award Master Winner 2018
  • Allan Hirsch: Chief Executive Officer, Hirsch’s
  • Tashmia Ismail-Saville: Chief Executive Officer, Youth Employment Service (YES)

In June 2020 as Master category winner, Craig will go on to join the finalists from over 60 countries in Monte Carlo to compete for the title of 2020 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™

Exceptional category winner: Bronwyn Corbett: Co-Founder, Grit Real Estate Income Group.

Grit is a multi-listed real estate income group operating in carefully selected African countries, optimising their structural investments, underpinned by solid property fundamentals and anchored by multinational tenants.

Exceptional category judging panel:

  • Judging Chair: Sipho Nkosi, Talent10 and EY World Entrepreneur Award Master Winner 2012
  • Christi Maherry: Chief Executive Officer, Etion Secure, incorporating LAWtrust and EY World Entrepreneur Awards Emerging Category 2017
  • Alison Collier: Managing Director, Endeavor SA
  • Debbie Merdjan: Chief Executive Officer and founder, Camelot Group and EY World Entrepreneur Awards Emerging Category 2018

Emerging category winner: Ashraf Mohamed: Founder, Polar Ice Cream Company.

Polar Ice Cream produces the ultimate happiness product, a wide range of quality Ice Cream and frozen delights. Polar believes that ice cream must reach the mas`s markets with products that are affordable but more importantly, enjoyable.

Emerging category judging panel:

  • Judging Chair: Catherine Townshend, Rand Merchant Bank
  • Jean Chawapiwa: Win Win Solutions for Africa
  • Matthew Jankelow: Chief Executive Officer and founder, VentureWeb

The South African Supplier Diversity Council(SASDC) will on November 25 – 27 2019 host the Synergy Conference and Business Opportunity Fair, a high -impact event targeted at creating a networking platform for knowledge sharing and facilitating genuine linkages between corporates and black entrepreneurs.

To register for the 2019 Synergy Conference, visit:


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