The top 20 winners of last year's entrepreneurship development programme, Believe Begin Become (BBB), will be announced by the not-for-profit development organisation, Technoserve, on April 9.
Standard Bank, along with Lenovo, is a primary sponsor of the BBB programme, which provides technical and management skills to growing and aspiring business owners.
The 2007 BBB programme began in July last year with 178 applications from a range of new and aspiring business owners.
After a rigorous four-phase training, development and short-listing process that has taken place over the past 10 months, 40 finalists have now been selected.
Says BBB programme manager Sekoati Pitso: "As we short-list and select candidates, our training and development is intensified.
"In 2007, 166 applicants qualified and participated in a one-day entrepreneurship seminar.
"Out of this group, 80 participants were selected, each receiving intensive training and mentorship as they developed their business plans.
"Forty finalists have now been chosen and the 20 winners will be announced at Standard Bank next month."
Pitso says that winners will be identified according to the strength of their business idea, its viability, job creation potential and its sustainability.
"We look for entrepreneurs who can demonstrate the growth potential of their operation and will make a meaningful contribution in the communities where they are based."
Says Standard Bank's head of corporate social investment (CSI) Nomsa Masuku: "Technoserve's focus on small and medium entrepreneurs, on rural and non-metropolitan areas and on the agriculture, tourism, light manufacturing and construction industries make this a powerful programme.
"It promotes sustainable enterprise development in local economies across South Africa.
"Standard Bank is proud to be associated with partners that make a difference to people's lives, in this case, by empowering emerging entrepreneurs to become important contributors to the growth of their own local communities."
Masuku says that the total number of entrepreneurs who participated in last year's BBB programme reflected a national grouping of new businessmen who can grow and develop their business, create jobs and provide services and products to people in their communities.
The 40 BBB finalists have completed an intense training programme aimed at turning good business ideas into workable, successful businesses.
Topics covered in the training included developing business potential through research, business plan development, planning, marketing, business finance and operations.
Participants worked with mentors who guided them as they developed and fine-tuned their final business plans.
"The 40 participants will become part of an alumni network that will keep them linked to each other and to business information through an alumni website and events," Pitso says.
The next round of Technoserve's Believe Begin Become programme for this year has been expanded and will be launched shortly.
Other enterprise development projects that Standard Bank supports include the Siyakhula Trust, Jireh Community Projects, Inkezo Land Company, Consumer Education Rural Action Committee (TRAC), Women for Housing and Buhle Farmer's Academy.