With Lowveld Big Change, business leaders are aiming to help the community as whole do better business.

MBOMBELA – Time is running out for those interested in joining the Lowveld Big Change. Entries for the programme closes on September 30.

Hundreds of people attended the information session with founder Mr Ettiëne Pretorius at Emnotweni Arena on Thursday. He was joined by fellow mentors Ms Irma Green and Mr Oupa Ikaneng Pilane, to answer some of the public’s questions.

“You are here because you are aspiring to something more,” Pretorius says. “You are sitting here with unanswered questions.”

Lowveld Big Change aims to answer the questions people have about achieving success through a mentorship programme. One mentee will be selected to be personally mentored by 26 successful business people, from a variety of fields, who have made it in the Lowveld.

The lessons they have to teach, makes it specifically applicable to others who want to change their lives.

“We put successful people on pedestals, and once you think that you make it unachievable for yourself. Once you meet them, everything changes, because you realise they are only normal.”

But those who are not selected to be The One, will still have access to 10 life and business lessons from people such as Dr Mathews Phosa and Mr Robert Gumede, as he or she will share the information with the larger public on a weekly basis, through print media, radio and online blogs.

This allows the whole community to benefit. One of Pretorius’ lessons is that sometimes it is knowing something other people don’t, which makes the difference. But, not any one thing will work for everybody.

“There is no such thing as one lesson, one word,” he says, “That is why we aim to offer a total of 260 lessons through the 26 weeks. Twenty-six people sharing their 10 lessons with the community though one person? It that doesn’t create context, nothing will.”

Even those who enter and aren’t chosen will not walk away empty-handed. Ms Linda Grimbeek of the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism says business courses from Unigrad College and entrepreneurship training from the Afrikaanse Handelsinsituur are also up for grabs.

Pilane recommends following your own course, waking up early, and taking the time usually spent watching television to work on your knowledge of your business. And to network. “If you want to play soccer, go and play with the soccer players.”

Green agrees on the importance of networking. She adds that she had also carefully chosen mentors in her career, in areas where she felt she wasn’t strong.

“One thing by dad taught me,” she adds, “is if your hand is open in giving, it is open in receiving.”

The mentee will thus have the opportunity to take the lessons, gleaned first-hand, and apply it to their idea, to grow their business. The potential of the idea will be determining in selection, not its current success or turnover. The mentee will be required to work hard, putting in the 10 000 hours required to become an expert in something. “You would be surprised how good you can be. It is time for a new person to share everyone’s story.”


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