On Friday, the 24th of May, Cape Town businesswomen came together to celebrate those who have succeeded not only in business but also in making a difference to their communities at the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa, Cape Town Branch’s (BWACT) 2013 Regional Business Achiever Awards.
The twelve finalists, ranging from women at start-up level, entrepreneurs, professionals in profitable practises and corporate women at executive level, were nominated by their peers who deemed them “phenomenal businesswomen who are contributing to their communities and helping to grow South Africa’s economy.” After months of adjudication, the winners in the four categories of Entrepreneur, Corporate, Professional and Social Entrepreneur were finally announced.
The award for Entrepreneur, which applauds women who own and run their own profitable businesses, went to Renee Keeble, Managing Director and Co-founder of SA Commercial (Pty) Ltd – one of the leading and best run outsourced contact centres and business-processing operations in South Africa. Keeble quickly built her own successful business and today strives to help both her clients and employees achieve similar success. She says, “What I love most about my field of interest is witnessing the personal and career growth of our people at SA Commercial.” Under her directorship, the company has recently won an industry award for ‘Best Outsource Contact Centre’. The other nominees in the category were Jacki McEwen, Founder and Co-owner of Eclipse Public Relations and Captive8 House of Fashion; Jaqueline Burge, Founder Rarity Handbags CC; and Jennifer Patterson, Managing Director Trans Africa Safaris.
Teri Kruger, Director of Stakeholder Relations for juwi Renewable Energies (Pty) Ltd., won the Corporate award, which recognises women in senior positions that are excelling in the corporate world. Being involved in providing a much-needed, clean and sustainable power supply to South Africa that has the potential to contribute to the country’s economic and socio-economic growth, is what drives Kruger at work. She states, “Issues related to those living in poverty can largely be alleviated by the delivery of clean electricity to every household. Just a decent light source, for instance, will help those keen on furthering their study efforts. To make our world a better place, I believe the key ingredient would be clean, green energy that can be brought to the people, for the people and by the people. With it comes new growth, new opportunity and new skills and education in many and even remote areas.” Beverley Hancock, General Manager of Human Alliance Recruitment and Beverly van Nijkerk, Segment Specialist at Sanlam, were also nominees in the Corporate category.
Winning the award in the Professional category, which acknowledges those who have obtained a professional qualification in their industry and enjoy the accreditation of a professional body, was Ethel Hamman of Horwath Zeller Karro (HZK) – a long-established audit and accounting firm. Following her traineeship at HZK, Hamman qualified as a Chartered Accountant, registered as an auditor and was made a partner at the firm. Today, in addition to heading up the company’s audit specialist division, she serves as the quality assurance leader and chairs the auditing technical committee. She is also the national quality assurance partner of the Crowe Horwath network in South Africa. Her vast experience enables her to add value in dealing with the many challenges faced in business that are globally defined as well as those specific to South Africa. She works with her clients to find value, develop insights and cement their foundation towards sustainable growth. Amanda Catto, Founder of Catto Neethling Wiid, was Hamman’s co-nominee for the award.
Recognised for her work in the NGO sector and for applying practical, innovative and sustainable solutions that benefit society, Erica Elk, Founding Executive Director of the Cape Craft & Design Institute, was named the winner of the Social Entrepreneur category. Acknowledged by Decorex South Africa as one of 15 South Africans who have made a significant contribution to design in the country, Elk set up the Cape Craft & Design Institute (CCDI) in 2001 to promote and grow craft as an economic sector in the Western Cape. In addition to establishing the highly successful operation that supports craft producers and helps to network all players in the product-to-market chain, her accomplishments include being appointed to the boards of the prominent organisations such as the National Arts Council, Cape Town Routes Unlimited and the Western Cape Chapter of the Visual Arts Network SA. She has also authored and edited several research papers and has served as the government counterpart for the Micro-Economic Development Strategy for the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Elk was nominated alongside Dr Vash Mungal-Singh, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA and Catherine Wijnberg, Director and Founder of Fetola, for the award.
Andrew Galloway of RSM Betty & Dickson, one of the judges of the Regional Business Achiever Awards, who themselves are business personalities that have achieved the highest accolades, shares, “All of these women are role models…they are who I would like my daughter to aspire to be one day.”
Robyn Hey, Chairperson of the BWACT, says, “These leading South African businesswomen thoroughly deserve the recognition that they have received. The winners and finalists are at the pinnacles of their careers. They are lifting as they rise and are taking other women forward with them. As members of the Businesswomen’s Association we are confident that all of them will continue to inspire and empower other businesswomen to achieve and succeed.”