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Celebrating Excellence – The Significance of the Presidential SMME and Cooperatives Awards

Celebrating Excellence – The Significance of the Presidential SMME and Cooperatives Awards

Kizito Okechukwu

Kizito Okechukwu | Sep 21, 2023

Last year, the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD), launched the Presidential SMME and Cooperatives awards, which seeks to celebrate excellence and reward high-impact SMMEs that continue to innovate and drive economic welfare. This unique annual awards programme has been established specifically to acknowledge, encourage and celebrate excellence amongst SMMEs and Cooperatives by giving them the opportunity to gain valuable exposure and well-deserved recognition.

The idea behind the awards is to promote entrepreneurial activities through identifying, showcasing and recognising the best performing SMMEs, Cooperatives and Ecosystem Enablers in the country. Ecosystem Enablers are essentially organisations that also create communities by finding and leveraging various ecosystem players. These awards further seek to advance the cause of developing entrepreneurs and SMMEs in recognition of their contribution to empowering and developing SMMEs; acknowledging and appreciating the important role the sector plays in promoting economic growth, wealth and prosperity.

Of crucial importance was the Department opting to celebrate these outstanding companies during the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). The GEW, which is a platform of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, is the world’s largest celebration of innovators and entrepreneurs. Global Entrepreneurship Week is a massive campaign to celebrate and empower entrepreneurs in every country and community around the world – especially those individuals who face structural barriers, or may have never considered the idea of launching a startup. Each November, 10 million people in over 200 countries take part in tens of thousands of activities, competitions and events that inspire them to act and provide them with the knowledge, experience and connections they need to succeed.

Now in its 16th year, the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2023 reaches beyond high-tech startup hubs like Silicon Valley, London and Shanghai. It envisions one entrepreneurial ecosystem open to all, including smaller cities in emerging economies and under-represented communities, whether systemically marginalized, geographically hard-to-reach or otherwise pushed aside – or left out. National campaigns are driven by local event organizers who plan activities tailored to their community’s needs. Activities can range from small, local gatherings to massive international competitions – and/or anything in between.

While GEW only takes place one week each year, the connections made are long-lasting. The campaign serves as an opportunity to collaborate and engage with organizations and individuals to celebrate and spotlight entrepreneurs, expose people to the path of entrepreneurship, help them get started and facilitate access to capital and the resources to grow.

Small businesses play a vital role in our economy, contributing to job creation, innovation, and local community development. While they may lack the resources and market reach of larger corporations, small businesses possess a unique ability to adapt, bring fresh ideas to the table and provide exceptional products or services. Recognizing and celebrating their achievements is crucial for fostering entrepreneurial spirit and encouraging growth.

Small businesses are also the backbone of local communities. They create job opportunities, drive economic growth, and contribute to the development of their communities. When a small business excels and receives recognition through awards, it has a positive ripple effect on the community. It raises the community’s profile, attracting more customers and potential investors. The increased success and growth of these businesses can also lead to additional employment opportunities, directly impacting the community’s prosperity.

Small business awards play a crucial role in celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit, honouring exceptional performance and fostering growth. They provide recognition, credibility and motivation to entrepreneurs, employees and communities at large. By shining a spotlight on the achievements of small businesses, these awards not only encourage ongoing excellence but also serve as an inspiration for others to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. As a society, we must continue to support and recognize the invaluable contributions made by small businesses in driving innovation and economic development.

The Presidential SMME and Cooperatives awards is hosted by the Department of Small Business Development in partnership with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), the European Union (EU) and 22 On Sloane startup Campus.

To apply or nominate a company for the Presidential SMME and Cooperatives awards, please visit: – applications close on 6th October 2023


Kizito Okechukwu is the Executive Head of 22 On Sloane, Africa’s largest startup campus; and co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa.


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