Every year, the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition discovers ambitious and driven entrepreneurs that are striving to be captains within their respective fields. One such noteworthy entrant from this year’s competition is 12-year-old Sam Berger, a talented computer whiz, who creates useful apps for businesses.

One of Berger’s applications is a geyser app which was patented earlier this year. Designed for home insurance companies in South Africa, the app uses QR codes to confirm whether the geysers are in or out of guarantee. According to the Berger family’s calculations, the app could potentially save insurers between R25-million and R30-million a year.

The young entrepreneur says that the app will save insurers money.

“The app results in the client not having to climb onto the roof to get the serial number and date code, and the insurer doesn’t have to pay a contractor to go out and investigate whether the geyser is in or out of guarantee,” says Berger.

Christo Botes, spokesperson for the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, says that while Berger is unfortunately too young to enter the competition, he holds the qualities that the competition stands for – a drive to innovate and succeed. “The competition aims to celebrate excellence in entrepreneurs and serve as an inspiration to others to succeed in the world of business, and Sam is a key example of this.”

In 2012, when Berger was just 10 years of age, he attended a three-day Python programming course at the University of Cape Town, which is usually attended by high-school students. During the course, he not only finished his two projects in record time, but also received first place for the one and second for the other.

Quickly noting his talent, the facilitator of the course requested that the Python Software Foundation invite Berger to their annual conference a week later.

Berger’s proficiency in, and passion for, IT was noted by the Python Conference co-ordinator, as a result he found himself attending an all-expenses-paid conference in Silicon Valley, California in March 2013 where Berger was mentioned in both the opening and closing ceremony to over 3 000 delegates.

He was also asked to teach high-school children how to code for the first two days of the conference, before attending the main conference for the last three days.

IT companies have already shown their support for his talents, with Microsoft SA providing software, mentorship and support for the great work he has done. He is also currently being mentored by an IT company in Cape Town, where he can go in once a week to work on projects that meet his fancy.

On top of this, Berger is also editing a book on cryptography for adults and teenagers along with an author in the US. He has also been asked to work with a company as its chief technology officer (CTO), which has had to be placed on hold, for now.

Apart from the various apps Berger is developing, he is also involved in tutoring other kids and is working with the Minister of Basic Education to launch an IT education drive. It will involve teaching children in underprivileged communities in South Africa how to code, and offer them a free hand-held computer, called the Raspberry Pi.

Botes says the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition will be keeping a keen eye on this talented young man. “The competition aims to acknowledge and support local entrepreneurship, and we strongly believe Sam will be a future entrant in the competition.”