NELSON Mandela Bay is hoping to break the world record for speed networking at a business expo in New Brighton on Thursday and to give away R350 000 in prizes to budding entrepreneurs in a “Dragons’ Den”.
Launched yesterday at the Port Elizabeth City Hall, the multi-pronged expo will be held at the Nangoza Jebe Hall and includes the business speed networking – part of the City of Champions NMB Legacy Project – a business talk show and a novice entrepreneur workshop and competition.
City arts and culture executive director Noxolo Nqwazi said the municipality’s key partners were Khanyisela College and Your Money, but that there were many others.
It was amazing that the people of this metro had come together in this way, she said.
“This year we are talking about Mandela as a champion of freedom.
“We want that aligned with economic freedom, as the youth have been crying for this.”
Citing high unemployment, Nqwazi said Thursday morning’s Your Money workshop would guide youngsters with a business idea through developing, then implementing, a business plan.
After the workshop, entrants would submit their business ideas to a panel of judges – or “dragons” as in the television reality show – who would then narrow down the submission to a final 15.
After each finalist has had a five-minute pitch on stage, three winners will be chosen.
“We have a full programme from 9am with speakers from Seda, Propella, Coega and the MBDA, along with exhibitions from a number of companies.
“Financial institutions will also be represented,” Nqwazi said.
“We will take young people through the process.
“At the end of the session we will have young people with funded opportunities,” she said.
The prizes include courses, vouchers, workshops, advertisements and coaching sessions.
While the entries are adjudicated, the official speed networking event will take place in the main hall, facilitated by Magnetic Storm general manager Jane Stevenson.
Belgium holds the record – 1 068 people networking at the same time in the same venue in November 2014.
For the event to be considered for the Guinness Book of World Records, each individual has to network with 20 others for three minutes, and each new contact has to be recorded and verified, with no one allowed to enter or leave the hall until this information is logged.
Event organiser Lynn van Vuuren said she was hoping for a minimum of 1 200.
She said the entrepreneurial workshop and competition were aimed at people under 35 who had a new business idea, including teenagers still at school.
“Just come with your ideas and a couple of business cards,” she said.
“Most successful businesses start out with nothing but their skills and a passion to make a success of their lives.”
Other components include a business talk show led by Roger Peters of Khanyisela KC Talks.