Two South African women have taken top honours at the prestigious Oliver Empowerment Awards, which recently took place in Johannesburg, by being named the Top Black Business Leader of the Year and Top Black Entrepreneur of the Year respectively. Designed to shine the spotlight on and recognise leadership and innovation in empowerment, the awards are hosted by Topco Media's annual empowerment publication Impumelelo.
Nonkululeko Gobodo, South Africa's first black woman chartered accountant walked off with Top Black Business Leader of the Year and Sibongile Maseko, founder of Bongi-M Construction received the Top Entrepreneur of the Year accolade.
Ralf Fletcher, publisher of Impumelelo magazine, says that the fairer sex has been catapulted into positions of leadership across the globe and is slowly infiltrating both the economic and political environments. But not quickly enough.
"Women lead governments in Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Thailand and now head the International Monetary Fund and one of the five oil companies. Sadly, just 9% of businesses have a female CEO. This is despite the fact that women constitute more than 50% of the population. It is therefore even more gratifying to identify and thank these two trailblazers for their contribution to transformation which is about gender equality as much as it is about ethnicity," says Fletcher.
Despite these accoldaes, the Grant Thornton International Business Report 2012 paints a bleak picture of gender equality in the boardroom. Twenty one percent of senior management roles are held by women globally, this figure has barely moved over the past decade according the report.
The Top Black Entrepreneur of the Year The Top Black Entrepreneur of the Year is awarded to an individual who has demonstrated excellence and drive in their field of business. However, to enter this category, the organisation must employ more than five people, demonstrate a turnover greater than R5-million per annum and be operational for longer than two years.
"Sibongile Maseko, founder of Bongi-M Construction demonstrated all of this and then some to beat nine other entrants to the title. From humble beginnings, she has gone from strength to strength setting an exemplary track record on her path to success," Fletcher said.
Immediately after completing her Grade 12, Maseko cut her teeth as a civil engineer at a construction company where she did an in-house qualification. She then climbed the ladder before moving into a consulting engineer position. This took her directly on a path of working with small business entrepreneurs in the field. Maseko bravely took the next step and started her own business, which she funded from her personal savings.
Top Black Business Leader of the Year Nonkululeko Gobodo from Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo walked off with the Top Black Business Leader of the Year title. To qualify, Gobodo needed to hold an executive position and her leadership needed to be reflected in service to the organisation, demonstrating the positive impact of the BEE strategies she championed. Finally, her organisation needed to generate revenue of more than R35-million per annum.
And, this is how she did it. Gobodo qualified as the first black woman chartered accountant in South Africa before founding Gobodo Incorporated. Through sheer dedication and tenacity, she grew the business from a few trainee clerks in the Eastern Cape to an organisation with a staff of 450 with seven regional offices.
"Nonkululeko was instrumental in the merger that formed Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo. As a pioneer and visionary, she used her skills to build an organisation that contributes to the growth of black talent, and communities throughout the country and is well known for her leadership, integrity, forward-thinking and courage - a completely deserving recipient for this accolade," Fletcher said.
"Whether individuals or organisations, all entries underwent a rigorous judging process and had to meet eight preset criteria. Most importantly, the winners clearly demonstrated that they had integrated transformation as part of their business processes and not considered it a silo imperative that was activated and paraded for procurement and business development purposes only. The merits of this approach is evident in the business' sustained success and worthy of celebration," concludes Fletcher.
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