New Entrepreneurs’ Organization president aims to help businesses prosper amidst pandemic

Encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs during the economic turbulence caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is a priority for the newly appointed president of the Durban Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Clinton Holcroft.

CEO of Serco – one of South Africa’s leading truck body and trailer building companies with branches in all major centres– Holcroft takes over the reins from Shilpa Mehta, the Durban chapters first female president and owner of electronics manufacturing service provider, Production Logix.

Holcroft assumes the presidential mantle at a demanding time with the impact of COVID-19 still being felt by commerce and industry sectors grappling to get back on track following lockdowns throughout the country and the rest of the world.  The reopening of the ailing South African economy is taking place slowly with a lot of hope in the ability of entrepreneurs to get markets moving upwards in the face of South African authorities seemingly being slow to free things up and smooth the way.

EO Clinton Holcroft
Mark Essey MC of the EO event where Holdcroft was appointed president, Clinton Holcroft, newly appointed president, Jose Vilandy speaker and head of Truth Coffee Roasting and Shilpa Mehta outgoing president

Learning leadership skills

EO is a global, peer-to-peer network of more than 14 000 influential business owners with 193 chapters in 60 countries, open for membership to entrepreneurs with businesses which turn over more than US$1 million a year.

Since its launch in 1987, EO remains a global network that encourages entrepreneurs to grow by expanding interests and learning leadership skills from fellow members who challenge their perspectives and question their presuppositions. EO promotes both personal and professional growth through interaction with experts, mentoring and networking.

Holcroft, who has been a member of the organisation’s Durban Chapter for the past four years, said the EO was a non-profit organisation focussed on personal growth and supporting entrepreneurs on their journeys.

“Personally, I have found great value as a member in being able to seek guidance and learn from the experiences of EO colleagues. To hear how fellow entrepreneurs have dealt with challenges similar to ones I faced and to be much wiser because of the interactions has been enormously valuable,” says Holcroft.  “A key priority is not to tell each other what to do or pass judgement on the actions of others but rather share experiences and insight which is so useful for individuals running organisations, as it can get lonely and very stressful at the top. On the one hand it is demanding to be in charge of a business and take all the risk while on the other it is rewarding through providing employment and servicing various markets.’’

Change process

One of the biggest challenges he has experienced was devising a succession plan to transfer control of Serco – a family-owned business – from his father, Trevor (who was going into semi-retirement), to himself.  “The experience shares I received from fellow EO members proved invaluable in helping with the difficult change process.”

He said he was very excited about the year ahead and looked forward to working with the new eight-strong board he had appointed. “Entrepreneurs play a critical role in creating growth and employment which are among our greatest challenges in South Africa. So organisations such as EO which supports entrepreneurs on their journeys, helping them to be successful, are highly valuable. One of our core values is: “Together we Grow” – which refers to entrepreneurs working together to learn and grow personally to be better leaders and thus run more successful businesses.

“It could be just a conversation with another entrepreneur that sparks an idea or sharing the demands of a challenge that produces the right outcome or answer. By working together entrepreneurs can learn and grow personally to be better leaders and therefore run more successful businesses.”

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