26 May 2011

North West finalist wins ETEYA

A high school passion for hiking, camping and animal conservation culminates win of coveted award.

A jubilant Kagiso Legobe, 2011 ETEYA winner A jubilant Kagiso Legobe, 2011 ETEYA winner

Legobe has shown great determination to succeed in the competitive tourism industry and is a worthy ETEYA winner - Thandiwe January-McLean, CEO, South African Tourism

Kagiso Legobe and his Kay 2Ze Gee Tours has been named winner of the 2011 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award (ETEYA).

'This is just the beginning, I’m looking forward to turning my dream into a reality. I’m going to make sure I take the business to the next level by investing the money back into the business, buy more equipment and train my staff,' said Legobe moments after winning the award.

Legobe's distinctive adventure and exploration tour company - which he started in 2008 targeting schools, churches, social clubs and corporates in his area - won the main ETEYA prize at the awards ceremony held at Durban's Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre this evening, kicking off South African Tourism's Indaba 2011 on a high note.

The 33-year-old's passion for adventure started in high school when he joined the Animal Conservation Club undertaking hiking, camping and visits to South africa's game parks - sparking his initial interest in nature conservation and tourism.

After seeing the gap in his North West province for adventure-focused tour operators, he decided to start his own adventure and exploration company, which also offers learnerships to tourism graduates and gives motivational talks to school children, encouraging them to enter the tourism industry.

Legobe became the 10th ETEYA winner after a rigorous year-long judging process, which included aspects such as leadership, stategic planning, marketing, customer service, social responsibility, financial performance, facilities and appearance.  

His prize includes a R100 000 cash injection into his business and an intensive 12-month mentorship programme facilitated by TEP.

National Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, who attended the ETEYA event stressed the value of small businesses to the tourism sector and broader South African economy as he congratulated Legobe.

'Small businesses, such as those involved in the ETEYA programme, are the key to our sustainability as a tourism sector and I would like to congratulate Kagiso and all the provincial finalists. It is certainly encouraging to witness first-hand the effects of our efforts to create sustainable businesses that are actively contributing to the growth of not only the tourism sector, but the national economy as a whole,' said Minister van Schalkwyk.

Thandiwe January-McLean, South African Tourism’s CEO, said Legobe's passion and commitment to developing young South Africans and encouraging them to join the tourism industry is particularly encouraging, given South Africa's emphasis on job creation and sustainability in the tourism sector.

'Kagiso has shown great determination to succeed in the competitive tourism industry and is a worthy ETEYA winner. We highly commend his efforts in carving out a niche for his business and also would like to congratulate all the ETEYA provincial finalists, who have been excellent tourism ambassadors,' said Ms January-McLean.

The runners up are:
Bassie Ngozwana of Bassie Travel Centre (1st runner up, Eastern Cape)
Lorraine Chitate of Zanami Lodge (2nd runner up, Limpopo)
Michael Gumede of eBandla Hotel and Conference Centre (3rd runner up, KwaZulu-Natal)