The top three prospective mentees in the Lowveld Big Change mentorship programme have been selected, and the candidate will be announced on Friday.

MBOMBELA – They sifted through 109 high-quality entries, selected 30 strong candidates, narrowed them down to a well-deserving 10 and, at last, this week the top-three finalists for the Lowveld Big Change programme were announced by the panel.

The programme was recently launched and Lowveld Big Change founder, Mr Ettiene Pretorius aims to select an aspirational candidate and put them in touch with 26 already successful business people in the region, to help grow their ideas and businesses.

However, not only the ultimate candidate will benefit from the mentors’ knowledge. Their lessons, tips and truths will be shared by the mentee with the broader society on a weekly basis, via print, radio and online blogs.

The three finalists have varied ideas.

Mr Roelof du Plooy plans to move Roelof’s Fresh Fish store to the expanding Crossing Centre, where he will enlarge the existing sushi bar to a larger, high-end Sushi and Oyster Bar.

He says he was shocked when he was informed that he has been included in the top three, as he was impressed with the other entrants who have been included in the top 10.

He aims to offer the Lowveld something unique, for healthier eating and is already creating jobs: With the expansion his employees will increase from four to 15. Du Plooy’s ultimate aim is to franchise the Sushi and Oyster Bar.

He is very excited at the prospect of being selected as the mentee.

“It will give me the opportunity to learn from the best, people who have reached the top. Access to their experience will put me years ahead.

“What may have taken me 10 years to learn, I will get in 26 weeks.”


Ms Jennifer Schormann says she was pleasantly surprised when she was informed that she has been chosen as one of the top-three candidates.

She hopes to be selected as the Lowveld Big Change mentee as the programme’s potential to mobilise the community would greatly benefit her project.

This out-of-the-box thinker’s idea is an uplifting and unifying ongoing community art project.

People from different communities will work together to create inspirational and uplifting public art to bring people together to take pride and ownership in where they live.

A variety of projects are planned to beautify the Lowveld, rejuvenate inner cities, give local artists exposure, and create new iconic symbols as tourist attractions to be translated into Lowveld specific souvenirs.

“We want to mobilise the community behind a greater collective vision, in doing so, help people rise above their own circumstances with new inspiration and courage and see the positive differences they can make for themselves, for others, and for their community.”


Ms Phepsile Maseko has been working hard for her spot in the top three for years.

“I think I deserved it. It was hard earned.”

She plans to use an indigenous plant – which she won’t name as Phepisa Natual Resources Institute is in the process of trademarking it – to manufacture a seven-product skincare range.

Maseko has been working on the project for years and has completed research and secured funding. By using cooperatives run by women and youths to farm and sort the plants, her impact on rural development will be huge.

“Part of the requirements for the funding was that we need to create more jobs.”

While she is rearing to go, Maseko believes there still exists some gaps in the project, especially in the process of commercialisation of the products in terms of manufacturing and branding.

This is where being selected as the Lowveld Big Change mentee will make all the difference, she believes.


• Each of the three will be interviewed live on air on Radio Laeveld (100.5FM) this week between 13:00 and 14:00 until tomorrow.From them the selected mentee will be announced at the annual awards ceremony of the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism on Friday.

Other News