On the eve of Women's Day, the Top Women awards ceremony took place at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg. It was a star studded evening with esteemed members of government in attendance including DIRCO Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Energy Minister Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, and MEC Nomusa Dube. Gia Whitehead, TSiBA's Sustainability Director, won the award for Top Woman Entrepreneur (sponsored by ACSA) category.
The judging panel for the 2012 Awards included admired business leaders like Basetsana Kumalo - Director of Travel with Flair, Stewart van Graan - General Manager of Dell Southern and Central Africa, Dolly Mokgatle - Co-Founder and Executive Director of Peotona Group Holdings and Ansie Ramalho - CEO of the Institute of Directors of South Africa, to name but a few. There were 18 finalists in the Top Woman Entrepreneur category and Gia Whitehead won the award for her incredible work in the non profit sector. Gia is one of four founders and the Sustainability Director of TSiBA Education NPC. She successfully established a non-profit business school in Cape Town devoted to developing entrepreneurial skills for future business leaders from traditionally disadvantaged communities, without depending on government funding support. Gia heads up Sustainability for TSiBA and also focuses on attracting Enterprise Development funding. She specifically developed the Entrepreneurship Curriculum with practical components that simulate real life experiences. There has been little precedent to rely upon and Gia, along with the other founding members, has developed a model for replication elsewhere in Africa - the first being a rural campus in Karatara, near Knysna. A further replication is planned for Gaborone, Botswana. Gia's achievements are pivotal to the sustainability of TSiBA and the roll-out of the replication model.
Gia has raised over R80 million for operating expenses since TSiBA's inception in 2004, with over R9 million invested in reserves. This excludes over R3 million raised for the TSiBA Fund, which she set up to build TSiBA's long-term sustainability. To date TSiBA has awarded over 1000 scholarships, with 86% per cent of graduates either employed, running businesses or continuing their studies (versus the national average of 32%) and over a dozen are completing international internships. Furthermore, in its short existence, TSiBA has already produced 4 Mandela Rhodes Scholars, placing it among the elite of South Africa's universities.
Gia expressed her feelings on winning the award, "The award is really about TSiBA and so I believe this award is for everyone who is part of the TSiBA family! I am so proud to have represented such an incredible and inspiring organisation."
Well done to Gia on an incredible achievement!