Liepollo Pheko (BWA), Farzanah Mal (BWA), Alan Khan (Durban University of Technology, Mayor Thembeka Mchunu and Michelle Brown (BWA) at the KwaZulu-Natal awards ceremony held in June.
Women were recognised for their contribution to the economy at this year’s annual Regional Business Achiever Awards held in KwaZulu-Natal in May.
The gala evening, hosted by the Business Women’s Association of South Africa (Bwasa) at the Durban International Convention Centre, recognised women’s achievements and contributions across various sectors.
Bwasa is a national platform that aims to provide support and inspiration for women in all walks of business life.
The KwaZulu-Natal event forms part of the association’s annual regional awards held across all provinces.
To be considered for nomination, a candidate must be endorsed by her business peers, before being invited for a judging panel’s assessment.
In Durban, some 500 delegates, including finalists, government and business representatives as well as keynote speaker and author and entrepreneur Felicia Mabuza, attended the event.
Past award winners have included Eskom’s former human resources manager Dawn Makhobo and the late Maponya Group director Marina Maponya.
Finalists are chosen in categories like corporate, social entrepreneur, emerging entrepreneur, professional and women in government.
“The judging panel includes members of a number of leading business institutions and they assess exemplary leadership, inspiration and problem-solving skills in all the nominees,” explains Catherine Smith, Bwasa KwaZulu-Natal provincial co-ordinator.
Emerging entrepreneur category finalist Brenda Scheepers is one such woman. Her project management business Angel Projects, which she co-founded with Werda Grunewald in 2010, helps connects corporates with non-profit organisation to start social development projects.
Says Scheepers: “My business has benefitted greatly from the exposure offered through the awards.
We plan to get more corporate companies involved in our certified projects and expand throughout the country.”
The highest honour for the evening was awarded to Judge Leona Theron who served as a judge in the country’s judiciary for more than 20 years.
She received the special Life Time Achievement award for her women-empowerment programmes and achievements as a judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. At the age of 32 in 1999, Theron became the first black woman to be appointed judge in the KwaZulu-Natal – becoming the youngest judge in the country. Transnet Pipeline’s chief executive Sharla Pillay clinched the Business Executive of the Year award.