The entrepreneurial landscape is filled with remarkable success stories, and Tshireletso Mokate's journey from a camping enthusiast to the champion of the 2023 Engen Pitch & Polish competition exemplifies the power of innovation and passion. With a million-dollar prize in hand, Mokate, fondly known as "The Camping Guy," is poised to redefine the camping experience.

A Million-Dollar Pitch

Tshireletso Mokate's life took a remarkable turn when he clinched a million Rand prize for delivering the best pitch in the 2023 Engen Pitch & Polish competition. The competition, now in its 13th year, is co-sponsored by Nedbank and organized by Raizcorp. While it may seem like a business showdown, its primary focus is on mentoring and nurturing entrepreneurs while teaching them the art of pitching to potential investors and clients.

Meet the Top Contenders

This year, Mokate was among three impressive finalists, alongside Mzingisi Tyelingane, owner of M-Games, and wildcard contestant Benedicta Durcan, owner of Afrobodies. Mokate's winnings include R650,000 in cash, disbursed over two years as he achieves the business milestones outlined in his pitch. He also secured a R350,000 bursary for a comprehensive two-year Raizcorp business-development program. Additionally, he has the honor of being crowned South Africa's ultimate pitching champion.

Camping Redefined: Camping RetrEats

Mokate's winning pitch revolves around his innovative venture, Camping RetrEats. This business aims to simplify the camping experience, eliminating the usual hassles of setting up tents, cooking, and building fires. Guests at Camping RetrEats can savor the joys of the outdoors and adventurous activities without the burden of chores.

The Genesis of an Idea

Mokate's inspiration for Camping RetrEats was rooted in a desire to share his passion for camping with his family. Faced with the challenge of convincing them to spend a night in the bush, he devised a creative solution. Collaborating with a chef friend, Mokate arranged for a private chef to cater for their camping excursion. This unique approach captured his family's interest, and they embarked on a memorable camping experience.

Mokate documented their adventures on social media, and the response was overwhelming. Encouraged by the positive feedback, he decided to host more retreats. A basic website provided information about his company's services, and from that point on, the business flourished.

Ambitions Beyond Borders

Mokate, an information technology specialist by training, now aspires to elevate his business to a dominant position in the local camping scene. His vision extends to catering to international travelers and establishing a significant presence in neighboring countries, demonstrating the global appeal of his innovative camping concept.

Impressing the Judges

Mokate's journey through the competition left a strong impression on the judging panel. His enthusiasm, coupled with his ability to refine his pitch as the competition unfolded, demonstrated the business's significant potential. The panel included Siphokazi Vabaza, director of enterprise, risk, and assurance at Engen; Monique Chinnah, senior manager for client offerings for small businesses at Nedbank; and Allon Raiz, chief excitement officer at Raizcorp.

Championing Innovation

The judges recognized Mokate's ability to identify and address personal and customer pain points, transforming these challenges into a profitable enterprise. They commended his consistency and evolution from planning a family holiday to creating a thriving business with a diverse range of products. This transformation exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, highlighting the untapped potential within South Africa's business leaders.

Mokate emphasized the value of entrepreneurship and the significance of mutual support. He extended his congratulations to his fellow contestants, reinforcing that every entrepreneur working diligently on their business is a winner in their own right.

Runner-Ups Rewarded

As the runner-up, Benedicta Durcan, CEO of Afrobodies biotech company, received a prize of R100,000 in cash. The second runner-up, Mzingisi Tyelingane of M-Games, walked away with R50,000 in cash.