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Four KZN entrepreneurs secure cash prizes in business accelerator

The Durban Chemicals Cluster (DCC) Business Accelerator held its annual “Dragons’ Den” event in November 2023. Emulating the renowned Dragons’ Den format, 11 emerging Black-owned enterprises passionately presented their ventures to a panel of influential ‘Dragons’ who are driving the meaningful transformation of the local chemicals sector; Bridget Bishenden from FFS Refiners, Rudi van Niekerk from H&R, Trevor I’Ons from NCS, and David Lombard from Sherwin-Williams.

Beyond the allure of instant cash prizes, the participating entrepreneurs vied for commercial partnerships with the Dragons’ companies, seed capital infusion, and coveted mentorship opportunities from industry luminaries. Open to all Black entrepreneurs in the chemical sector, from start-ups to established SMMEs, the DCC Business Accelerator attracted close to 100 entries this year. The selection process was rigorous and narrowing the pool to the final 33 candidates was a

challenging task.


The chosen qualifiers then underwent a comprehensive one[1]day capacity-building workshop in Durban on Wednesday, 25 October 2023. The top 11 pitches then advanced to the ‘Dragons’ Den’ stage and delivered impressive presentations.


Pulse Control Systems claimed the top prize, securing the Best Overall Business Case award and a R35,000 cash prize.


The additional R25,000 cash prizes recognising outstanding achievements in specific categories were awarded to the following SMEs:

  • Most Relevant to the Chemical Industry: Spot on Fire Controls, Lungani Nene from Cato Manor

  • Best Environmental Sustainability Solution: Virenix, Viren Udith from Mount Edgecombe

  • Industry Gamechanger: AJ85 Distributors, Anderson Jacobs from Durban


Nevertheless, all 11 SMEs ultimately walked away with a reward. According to Kyle Ballard, Head of the Accelerator, each of them has been granted annual membership to the Durban Chemicals Cluster.


However, the greater reward is that each SME will also receive support to unlock coveted sales and commercial opportunities with the Dragons and potential customers, improving their growth prospects significantly.


If you are a Black-owned SME seeking to propel your business to the next level, explore similar Business Accelerators across the following clusters: Durban Chemicals, KZN Clothing and Textiles, Cape Clothing and Textiles, eThekwini Furniture, and Durban Automotive. For more information and to apply, please go  to: .


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