The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a global business network of more than 12,000 business owners in more than 160 chapters and 50 countries. Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, EO enables small and large business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life. The organization’s vision is to build the world’s most influential community of entrepreneurs, which aligns with its mission of supporting entrepreneurial education and engaging entrepreneurs to learn and grow.
The Entrepreneurs’ Organization also operates the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), the premier award program for undergraduate students that own and run businesses while attending college or university; and EO Accelerator, a series of quarterly, high-impact learning events designed to provide top business owners with the tools, knowledge and skills they need to grow their businesses to more than US$1 million in annual revenue.
After a 4-hour judging process, University of Stellenbosch Medical student, Keaton Harris, has emerged the South African champion in the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO) run Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards (GSEA) which took place in Cape Town. This annual student competition recognises students who successfully run a business while studying full time.
Harris’s winning business, InforMED, is “an offline mobile language translation application which aids the healthcare professional in creating a more refined differential diagnosis prior to the physical exam”.
As the winner of the South African leg of this global competition, Harris will fly to Maucau, China in April to represent the country amongst winners from other countries. As part of this package, he will also receive a cash prize as well as business mentorship from some of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs who are members of peer-to-peer network, EO.
“The day of the competition I went in rather nervous. Then again, nerves are to be expected when you’re competing against the top start-ups in the country. I went in with no expectations because I didn’t want to lead myself to any form of disappointment. But, the feeling when they announced me as the winner was utterly surreal. It didn’t sink in that I was going to be given the opportunity to represent the country on a Global Platform in China. After the 3rd day of telling myself “I’m going to China to represent the country” did it finally sink in. However, I’m not going to China just for me. I’m carrying the hearts of every participant and every person in South Africa with me on the road to the GSEA Global Finals. I’m hoping that I can represent the country well, and show the world what South Africa is capable of!” Harris said.
Harris was up against 5 other finalists in the competition with businesses ranging from Watch manufacturing, Afro Care products, Trail Running Events Entrepreneur Training Programs and an SA Artist Platform aiming to keep telent in SA.
Adi Zuk of the JAG method, one of the judges said “I was very impressed with the quality of candidates for the GSEA awards. Danie Nel and Jason Lind from EO put together a very impressive, well run competition”.
“We have seen some good ideas being presented here today. We, at EO, aim to encourage a culture of entrepreneurship among more young people, by highlighting this competition amongst the students, thereby encouraging entrepreneurship into our culture,” she says.
Daniel Nel, chair of GSEA South Africa, says that the GSEA is an important vehicle for growing the country’s next generation of entrepreneurs. “It is a well-known fact that entrepreneurship is at the heart of South Africa’s economic progress. We are pleased to be playing a role in enabling a fresh pipeline of entrepreneurs. These students work hard to build their businesses while studying, the type of tenacity required to succeed in business. We always look to identify businesses that have vision and demonstrate long-term sustainability, among other judging criteria. We are satisfied that Desert Green has a future and will do great things in South Africa.”
As the premier global competition for undergraduate students, the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) represents more than 1,700 of the prominent student entrepreneurs from more than 60 countries. Built on a mission to inspire students to start and grow entrepreneurial ventures, GSEA brings global visibility to pioneering student business owners. Since 1998, the GSEA, a program founded at the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University, has honoured outstanding students who simultaneously attend university full-time while running their own businesses. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) took on leadership of the GSEA in 2006 to offer student entrepreneurs access to a global network of mentors, resources and connections from the most influential community of entrepreneurs in the world.
Eligible students are currently enrolled as an undergraduate student of a recognized college or university. Students need to be primarily responsible for the operation of a business that has been operating for no less than six (6) consecutive months.