Getting down to business

Representatives of the Cape SAJBD, ORT Jet, Entrepreneurs’ Organisation and Over the Rainbow, came together to celebrate entrepreneurial spirit

By Benita Zive

In November 50 aspiring entrepreneurs got together to celebrate the pre-launch of an exciting new collaborative networking initiative.

When it officially kicks off early next year, the Entrepreneurs’ Network will see diverse business owners from across the spectrum of cultures and communities coming together to share experiences, skill sets and connections.

The brainchild of Cape SAJBD Board Member and Chair of Associate Relations, Dawn Nathan-Jones, and Cape SAJBD Programme and Development Manager, Craig Nudelman, the Entrepreneurs’ Network platform has been months in the making. As a multiple award-winning business leader, professional speaker, entrepreneur and co-owner of social upliftment enterprise Over the Rainbow (OTR), Dawn is passionate about building businesses and helping entrepreneurs to thrive. Dawn and her OTR business partner Lesley Waterkeyn’s enthusiasm for the project and the concept of collaborating to build a peer-to-peer networking platform also inspired Richard Rayne, current President of the Western Cape Branch of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO), to get involved. The final piece of the partnership fell into place when Lisa Sandler, Head of ORT Jet Cape, agreed to lend her expertise to the initiative too.

The pre-launch event took place on Wednesday 9 November and was hosted by Deloitte at their Waterfront office said to be the most environmentally-friendly building in Africa! Cape SAJBD Chair Adrienne Jacobson opened the event, reiterating that the Board “shares a dedication to and passion for developing sustainable growth and improving the quality of life for people in the Western Cape” and that “the Entrepreneurs’ Network project resonates deeply with the Board’s work in these areas”.

Each prospective EN member had to submit comprehensive background information on their business before being accepted into the initiative, and was later given the opportunity to present a one-minute pitch at the event. Competition was tight with 90 or so applications being received initially, and selecting the final 50 members was no easy task. “For six months from January next year we aim to hold regular meetups for the entrepreneur cohort where they’ll be introduced to some amazing speakers and be encouraged to network and learn from each other. We’ve also divided the cohort into smaller groups and appointed team leads so they can get together and support each other anytime throughout the process,” says Dawn, “Research shows that eight out of ten entrepreneurs fail within the first 18 months, so we’ve decided to do something about this staggering crash-and-burn statistic. Entrepreneurs supporting Entrepreneurs is at the heart of everything we’ll be doing over the next six months”.

Guests at the soft-launch were treated to pearls of wisdom from business leader Simon Susman, previous Chair and CEO of Woolworths Holdings Limited, who opened the floor with some robust questions. A video presentation on tips and techniques for positive pitching by author and coach Justin Cohen followed, after which each entrepreneur was given a minute to present their business pitch.

The evening culminated in a fun networking session, leaving the entrepreneurs feeling inspired and thrilled at having had the opportunity to connect and engage with likeminded businesspeople from all walks of life.

“It doesn’t matter how big or small your startup or business is, the challenges are the same. We all know how difficult it is for small businesses to get off the ground in South Africa. We’re excited to have found the perfect partners and platform from which to share experiences and learnings that will make a real difference in building innovative and sustainable businesses,” says Dawn.

The Cape SAJBD is committed to creating a stronger South Africa. With engaged and efficient leadership, it seeks to connect Jewish identity to projects and activities that have a positive impact on local communities. The Entrepreneurs’ Network aims to do just that and continue to live the Board’s motto: Educate, Engage, Empower.

*The Cape SAJBD thanks Ryan Dogon and his team at Deloitte for helping to make the Entrepreneurs Network event a great success.

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies website:, Instagram, and Facebook page.

• Published in the December 2022/January 2023 Digital Edition – Click here to read it.

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