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A Royal Event: EL Business Women of the Year Honoured

At a gala event fit for royalty, outstanding East London businesswomen were honoured for their exceptional contribution to the local economy and to our society.

The annual Regional Businesswoman of the Year Awards (RBWOYA), hosted by the Businesswomen Association (BWA) East London, is one of the most prestigious events on the local business calendar and approximately 400 guests attended the event at The Venue in Hemingways.

This 16th RBWOYA was themed “A Royal Event”, celebrating the capacity of women, regardless of their station or circumstance in life, to realise the seemingly impossible against all odds, as once again evidenced by the recent Royal Wedding.

The six winning women were selected from an impressive line-up of 18 finalists from various industries, nominated by their peers. A stringent judging process focussed on identifying those women who are actively making a difference within their organisations and communities, who are role models for other women and who espouse the values the BWA stands for. The judging process was completely democratic and independent, with oversight provided by an external auditor.

“The judges were highly impressed with the excellent calibre of nominees, which made the judging process very exciting, but also challenging,” comments Dr Lesley Ann Foster, Executive Director of the Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, one of the independent panel of judges for the 2018 RBWOYA and a previous winner in the Social Entrepreneur category. “My esteemed colleagues and I were honoured to contribute to the exciting process of reviewing and interviewing the short-listed candidates for 2018. Although only one winner could be selected, we want to emphasise that every finalist is worthy of an award. We thank all these remarkable women for their effort in sharing their amazing work and wish all the nominees the very best in their future endeavours.’’

And the winners are… 

From the 18 finalists, six winners emerged in their respective categories including: Emerging Entrepreneur; Entrepreneur; Social Entrepreneur; Professional; Corporate; and Government. These categories ensure the awards are very inclusive, recognising businesswomen at all levels, including local and start-up level, growing entrepreneurs, professionals in profitable practices and corporate women at executive level.

Vuyo Sidelo of Capsun Trade & Invest (t/a CSSA and Entecom) was announced as the winner in the Emerging Entrepreneur category, while Afika Mbandazayo of AfikaM Hair and Beauty Spa took the top honours in the Entrepreneur category. In the Corporate category, Sandra Lyn Pelser of Nedbank was named the winner, with Prof. Lana Weldon of the University of Fort Hare, claiming the Professional category. For the Social Entrepreneur category, the winner was Mandisa Dukashe of Zanoncedo Empowerment Centre, while Wandisa Vazi of Transnet Port Terminals was named the winner in the Women in Government category.

“Congratulations to all the finalists and winners – your outstanding commitment inspires all of us!” says Morne Le Roux, Head of Banking – Eastern and Southern Cape at Investec Private Banking, the head-line sponsor of the event. “We are proud to partner with the Businesswomen Association, East London to host the Regional Businesswoman of the Year Awards, which celebrates excellence in the business, corporate, professional and social arena. We are honoured to recognise these remarkable women. Businesswomen who turn projects into ‘Out of the Ordinary’ value. Businesswomen who stand up, speak up and shake up industries in their pursuit of excellence.”

“Congratulations to these phenomenal women, who discernibly signify that ‘the economy is a woman’, through their noteworthy impact on our local economy and our community,” adds Ruth Troskie, Chairperson of BWA East London. “The recognition of businesswomen as part of the RBWOYA process serves a dual purpose: it provides a platform to showcase women achievers; and in addition, it inspires other women to become achievers themselves. “We thank our generous sponsors who make this important event possible – our Platinum partner, Investec; as well as our Diamond partner, Mercedes Benz SA; our Bronze partner, the IDC; our Media partner, Daily Dispatch; our Venue partner, Hemingways; and our Print partner, Harry Printers.”

This year the event was attended by a number of high profile dignitaries as well as a number of leading East London companies that supported the event. Former prime-time radio and TV presenter, entertainment professional, voice-over artist, writer and previous winner in the Corporate Category, Buli G, was the MC and entertainment for the evening.

The Businesswomen’s Association South Africa, a registered NPO, is the largest and most prominent association of businesswomen in South Africa, and the East London branch is one of seven countrywide. BWA inspires and empowers women through initiatives that focus on upskilling, development and upliftment activities; provides opportunities that support, connect and grow women in all sectors of the economy; and lobbies issues affecting women in business.

Edited by Mbali Sibiya

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Themba Mashaba

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