The value of taking part in contests

Nadia Elena Comneci is a Romanian gymnast who, at the age of 14, became the first gymnast in Olympic history to be awarded the perfect score of 10.0 at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

She would eventually go on to receive six more “perfect 10s” in Montreal as well as three gold medals.

Nadia didn’t start out a 10 or by entering at Olympic level. She reached that level by starting at primary school level in her town and progressing to provincial and then eventually national level.

So how can an entrepreneur move towards achieving a 10, in spite of challenges and fears they encounter on a daily basis?

One way young people can start is to attend workshops, events and competitions. The Western Cape has a very active entrepreneurial eco-system with many events, workshops and competitions.

The big question is why should young aspiring entrepreneurs actively look at entering competitions?

Taking part in competitions offers many advantages over winning a prize.

Perhaps the most profound is that of networking and linkages.

Yandisa Langa, owner of Mountain Enterprises, has won a few competitions in his time. Yet one of his best business deals, came not from winning a prize, but rather from a company that attended the same event. They appreciated his expertise with tunnels and asked him to help them.

He did this with his normal passion and super attitude, and left behind a pleased client.

Taking part in competitions also provides a platform for honest, constructive and valuable feedback. Input from adjudicators, facilitators and fellow competitors, helped Kristal Kruzer and Keziah Hardenberg of Limitless Tuition to clarify and focus their offering to add serious value to others. They have been operating their business for 10 months now. “As entrepreneurship is truly a lonely journey, it is peers who understand the rigors the most.”

Many of the entrepreneurial competitions add substantial building blocks of learning.

Here are three competitions, happening in Cape Town, that young people could consider participating in:

The YouthStartCT Challenge is an accelerator programme for start-up entrepreneurs, delivered in support of youth capacity building and job creation.

The main aim is to encourage entrepreneurship and contribute to skills development and innovation in Cape Town.

The competition is open to Capetonians aged between 18 and 35. Individuals are given the opportunity to focus on a specific challenge and develop innovative business ideas that will benefit their community. Visit and search for YouthStart.

The Engen Pitch and Polish is a national workshop and competition programme where you get to spend the day in a fun-filled learning environment, receiving expert guidance on how to pitch your business or your business idea effectively.

Pitch and Polish, has their Cape Town event later this year. Visit

The SME Toolkit SA Business plan competition is also aimed squarely at young, aspiring entrepreneurs. Visit for more information.

The Centre for Entrepreneurship’s (CFE) Rapid Incubator (RI)actively recruits young people either with a fantastic business idea, or where they may just have started. Visit

Steve Reid is the manager of the CFE at False Bay College. Entrepreneurs with creative ideas in manufacturing can also contact the CFE at 021 201 1215.