The 9th annual Black Umbrellas National Enterprise Development Awards (NEDAs) took place on 11 November 2021. The virtual event celebrated top performing entrepreneurs in the Black Umbrellas programme with a formal ceremony that included inspirational speeches, trophy handovers and captivating performances.

Black Umbrellas, a partner entity of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, is an enterprise development organisation that partners with public and private organisations, and civil society, to address low levels of entrepreneurial activity and the challenges faced by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The work done through the Black Umbrellas virtual incubation programme supports SMEs to ensure their sustainability and ultimately prepare them for procurement opportunities, financing and markets. The businesses on the programme go on to create jobs and contribute positively to their communities and the South African economy as a whole.

Recognising that celebrating SMEs’ achievements is an integral part of nurturing them, the NEDAs were conceptualised at the request of President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2013.

This year’s award ceremony included a keynote speech from the president, who said, “The National Enterprise Development Awards do not only acknowledge the successes of entrepreneurs and their respective businesses, but also aim to recognise their incredible contributions to the broader socio-economic context of South Africa.”

Sbusiso Leope, commonly known as DJ Sbu, presented the awards for the Overall National Winner and the People’s Choice Winner. In his address to the winners and the audience, DJ Sbu noted the importance of entrepreneurs in both the formal and informal sectors of South Africa. “Entrepreneurs are the backbone of the South African economy, and it is important that they get recognition through platforms like Black Umbrellas,” he said.

This year’s NEDAs categories were formulated with the intent of giving due recognition to entrepreneurs who have made great strides in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. The winners were:
● GMSQ (MS Quality R Trading Enterprise): Overall National Winner and Most Jobs Preserved in a Pandemic
● Tendai ICT: Most Resilient Business and the People’s Choice Award
● Bolwa Security: Most Jobs Created in a Pandemic
● Green Dot Energy: Best COVID Bounce Back
● Sampax Health: Black Umbrellas Ambassador’s Award

In closing his keynote address, President Ramaphosa said, “We applaud Black Umbrellas and the enterprises it has developed, who collectively have created more than 12 000 jobs since the inception of Black Umbrellas”. The organisation remains steadfast in developing businesses to a level where they can contribute meaningfully to the economy and remain sustainable while doing so.