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Ridhwan Khan awarded EY Southern Africa World Entrepreneur Award

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Ridhwan Khan, 38-year-old founder and CEO of Mobicel, knew he was never going to be a suit-and-tie corporate worker, climbing his way up corporate ladder

This year, Ridhwan Khan of Mobicel Communications was named winner of the Master Category in the EY World Entrepreneur Award. The winner of this category goes on to represent Southern Africa at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Awards in Monte Carlo in June 2019, where he will compete with over 50 leading entrepreneurs from across the globe.

“Always look at failure as the beginning, and never as the end,” says Ridhwan.

Ridhwan Khan, 38-year-old founder and CEO of Mobicel, knew he was never going to be a suit-and-tie corporate worker, climbing his way up corporate ladder. He had his eye on something bigger, something inspiring, something fresh and disruptive. More than a decade ago, he set his sights on one simple but powerful core ideal: that in the information age, mobile devices are necessities, not luxuries. Having grown up in Polokwane, he knew well how inaccessible these necessities could be to many South Africans.

With his focus on lower income groups, Ridhwan had seen the gap in the market for an affordable cellular brand and was determined to bring accessible mobile connectivity to that market – at a fraction of the cost of established global manufacturers. In 2007, the new brand, Mobicel, was launched.

10 years later, Ridhwan’s efforts are paying off. Mobicel devices are now sold in more than 5 200 stores nationwide. The company is listed with all major South African cellular operators and has grabbed 18% of the South African cellular volume market share (and growing). It is South Africa’s leading and fastest growing cellular OEM and is expanding its reach internationally.

About the Exceptional category winner

“To be a successful Entrepreneur, you need to look at the world through new lenses all the time to be able to copy up with the dynamic global economic changes” says Davison Norupirifounder of Davipel.

Davipel is a dried food manufacturing company established in 2002. The company started off its operations in the back yard of a factory packing and distributing basic food commodities like salt, rice and beans. Two years later Davipel ventured into snack manufacturing and soya mince processing.

A family business, today the company employs more than 600 people with a daily production capacity of 100tons of snacks daily and exports into 12 SADC countries. The business has built its own state of the art factory with equipment and machinery imported abroad and stand as the 3rd largest in the region. It has further expanded its growth by diversifying in Agro based milling, the only maize grit milling plant in the country with a combined production of agro based products to 250tons daily with a state of the art technology the only one in the region.

About the Emerging category winner

“Being an entrepreneur is about passion, creativity and innovation. You need leadership skills to drive your vision, and an ability to overcome business obstacles with courage and purpose” says Deborah Merdjan of Camelot Group.

Camelot Spa was created out of a consultancy opportunity with Sun International's first Health Spa at Sun City. Deborah identified a management opportunity of 5 Star Hotel Spa properties. Her franchise division which has grown to 31 properties to date, with a strong brand presence and new brands such as Cspa Wellness and Tite by Camelot Spa.

For the last 21 years, the award has been adjudicated by an esteemed panel of judges, and this year was no exception.

Master Category judges

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Peter Mountford. CEO, Super Group and winner of 2016 Master Category Award.

Sipho Nkosi. Chairman of Talent Holdings

Catherine Townshend. Managing Director, Endeavor South Africa

Ivan Epstein. Executive Chairman, TriColour Investments and winner of the EY South Africa’s Best Entrepreneur Award in 1999.

Exceptional Category judges

Chair: Andile Khumalo. CEO, The Brodkast Group

Nadir Khamissa. Co-founder of Hello Group and CEO of Bedlam Inc. and winner of 2015 Exceptional Category Award.

Christi Maherry. CEO of Etion Secure (incorporating LAWtrust) a division of Altx-listed Etion Limited and winner of 2017 Emerging Category Award

Emerging Category judges

Nadine Todd. Group Managing Editor for Entrepreneur Media SA

Jean Chawapiwa. Country Director of WEConnect International in South Africa

Shiraz Gany. CEO of Petrocam Trading (Pty) Ltd and finalist in 2017 Master Category Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award 

EY is honoured to recognise Gloria Serobe with the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognises prominent business people whose enterprises have contributed significantly to the growth and development of the economies in their respective countries. Gloria has received many accolades and awards throughout her career - and has been widely recognised for her outstanding contribution towards creating social and economic change in South Africa, and for the empowerment and development of women, particularly those in rural areas.

“I am flattered by this award. As it is difficult for women to get the same opportunities in business as men, all we wanted to do as WIPHOLD was to create a critical mass of women in business, as opposed to each one doing their own thing. There must never be a time again when a woman who wants to open a business goes through what we went through,” says Gloria on accepting her award.

To read more about the winners and categories, please visit: Website – EY Awards (https://go.ey.com/2QsM0Bh)

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