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Gender Equality In The Workplace – SA Is Getting It Right

Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa, on fostering high potential female entrepreneurs in South Africa.





According to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, South Africa ranked 17th out of 145 countries when it comes to closing the gender gap, ranking above both the UK (18) and the USA (28). These statistics highlight the fact that despite South Africa being a developing nation, the country is definitely progressive in terms of gender equality in the workplace.

This is according to Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa – the leading provider of assistance services, who says women are increasingly being recognised for their strong leadership skills and are being taken seriously in South African boardrooms.

“This is largely a result of gender equity policies within our country’s Constitution which has created an environment in which women are respected and encouraged to thrive.”

Related: Tech Can Be A Powerful Tool For Achieving Gender Equality

Colman says there are many big companies, even international corporations, which still do not recognise women’s role in business.

“However, the paradigm is starting to shift in South Africa and I do believe that we are starting to get this right. For example, at Europ Assistance South Africa we have a very strong female leadership team in place at an executive level and we are at the forefront of empowering South African women,” says Colman.

She points to the latest 2016 Women Entrepreneur Cities Index (WE Cities) which indicated that Johannesburg is amongst the top 25 cities in the world that foster high potential female entrepreneurs.

There is a growing pool of powerful women leading up corporate organisations, government institutions and even entrepreneurial initiatives like Salukazi Dakile-Hlongwane – Director of Nozala Investments, Wendy Appelbaum – Director of Sphere Holdings, Wendy Luhabe – Chair and Founder of Women Private Equity Fund, Lizé Lambrechts – Chief Executive of Santam and Lynette Magasa – Founder and Chief Executive of Boniswa Corporate Solutions.

“They are making great strides in South Africa’s working world which is very encouraging for the future female leaders of the country.”

The way that women are treated in our society and the manner in which male counterparts react towards women have changed for the better, she adds.

Related: Do Women Entrepreneurs Face Gender Discrimination?

“More companies are realising the benefits of employing females in senior positions. Even without implementing rigid gender quota systems, which don’t seem to work internationally, we have managed to witness incredible women flourishing in various industries and making a real difference in the country. I am a firm believer that companies that have leadership teams that reflect the markets they serve in gender make-up, are better equipped to do so.”

When we look at someone like Thuli Madonsela – she is a brilliant example of a true leader for our younger generation, says Colman.

“Her strong leadership presence has contributed to her success, professional standing and the impact that she has had in this country. She is a fearless and determined leader who has taken on some of the most powerful politicians in the country and I would like to see many more females striving to adapt to this type of leadership style.”

Helen Szemerei, Chief Commercial Officer at EASA, says it is encouraging to see how many businesses in South Africa are developing a growing culture of empowered females in an effort to improve the proportion of senior positions held by women.

She points to the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index which indicates that South Africa is a leader in empowering women in Sub-Saharan Africa and was ranked higher in this index when compared to most other developing countries.

“While we are in the process of making great strides, we have to continue working towards fostering a business culture where women, and essentially younger girls, are confident and motivated to pursue their leadership goals and even improve further on our rankings for closing the gender gap.”

Szemerei says all South Africans have a role to play when it comes to creating a safe and adaptive working environment in which women can thrive.

“By providing adequate benefits, flexible working hours and proper maternity benefits, companies can attract more female employees to their organisations. When businesses take into consideration women’s needs to still adhere to their family obligations, they will open themselves up to a vast group of skilled, educated and very equipped women to lead their operations. It is absolutely vital that we nurture women through their various life stages, including the child bearing years, which is a period of time that can be incredibly difficult to navigate for the majority of women.”

Related: Information Technology: Is It A Man’s World?

Colman advises women looking to grow their careers into senior positions to tap into available resources, such as female networking clubs.

“Women can use these type of platforms to share their experiences with like-minded women who understand their aspirations. At the same time, they also have access to sound advice for overcoming challenges. The value of these networks cannot be underestimated as women are encouraged and inspired by those around them.”

“It takes no great strength to rule with an iron fist, fear will get the job done. However, to birth and nurture the greatness in others has been the job of a woman from the beginning of time,” concludes Colman.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.


Entrepreneur Today

How SMEs Could Cash-In On Black Friday And Cyber Monday

Provided that SMEs prepare ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is an opportunity to leverage off the global hype, where some simple alignment to the theme can result in big benefit without much investment into promotion.




Jesse Weinberg

Provided that SMEs prepare ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is an opportunity to leverage off the global hype, where some simple alignment to the theme can result in big benefit without much investment into promotion.

In the midst of low consumer and business confidence, tapping into the opportunities presented by these two days could contribute significantly to boosting the cashflow of SMEs.

“To benefit from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two big focus points would be the thinking around what the business will offer to customers and how it will promote the offerings ahead of the days. This allows customers to plan their purchases ahead of time, which also ensures traffic for the SME,” says Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business.

Related: How To Prepare Your Business To Win Big On Black Friday

Weinberg provides useful tips for small businesses to help SMEs take full advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  • Use social media – Businesses should make full use of social media as a tool to support their offers on these days. A powerful tactic seen recently is for businesses to actually ask customers what they might like to see as a special offering by the businesses to assess the potential demand from the market.
  • Gauge customer appetite – A simple poll survey offers great insights into what customers want. The real trick for business on these two days is to ensure that the special deals on offer will actually be desired by customers, especially if the business plans on taking-on extra stock in for these specials.
  • Pre-promotion of specials – Another powerful example of using social media would be to communicate the specials that you plan on running on these days to create sufficient awareness and demand by persuading customers to plan their wish lists, with the idea that the special the business wants to run will be on their list.
  • Stock management – Businesses should avoid over-buying with the hopes of profiting from the additional demand. Getting in touch with customers may help the business buy the most desirable stock to ensure it sells.

SME’s should take full advantage of special global trade days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday – it’s like being able to plug your specials into someone else’s marketing campaign for no extra charge,” concludes Weinberg.

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Entrepreneur Today

Leading South Africans Inspire Guests At The Standard Bank Business Breakfast In Association With Jacaranda FM

A full house of business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs emerged inspired from today’s Standard Bank Business Breakfast, in association with Jacaranda FM, held at the Montecasino Ballroom in Johannesburg.




Standard Bank Business Breakfast

A full house of business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs emerged inspired from today’s Standard Bank Business Breakfast, in association with Jacaranda FM, held at the Montecasino Ballroom in Johannesburg.

The latest event in the ongoing Business Breakfast series featured a star-studded line-up of South African leaders and achievers in various fields sharing insights and motivational learnings. Attendees from the corporate world and the Jacaranda FM audience drew inspiration and shared networking opportunities as the speakers talked about their respective journeys to success and what kept them motivated.

“This morning’s speakers are all examples of South African excellence,” said Jacaranda FM General Manager Kevin Fine.

“They showed grit and dedication in overcoming hurdles to succeed in their fields and inspire others to do the same. We’re glad to join forces with Standard Bank to help them connect with our audience and to give our listeners insight into Standard Bank’s business offerings.”

The audience remained glued to their seats throughout the morning, as the speakers gave their views on life, what motivates them and lessons that can help business people excel in their respective sectors.

Speakers at the breakfast were principled political leader Dr Makhosi Khoza, Springbok rugby captain, Warren Whiteley, Astrophysicist and Mars One candidate, Adriana Marais and philanthropist and businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo.


Dr Makhozi Khoza speaks at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

Dr Khoza spoke on her political and business life path, and the importance of speaking truth to power. She encouraged South Africans to accept that “none but ourselves – the good men and women of this country – can save SA”. She ended her talk with an enigmatic reference to the need for “a new vehicle to take us to a prosperous society”.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family


Martin Bester, Jacaranda FM breakfast show host interviews Warren Whiteley at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

In conversation with Jacaranda FM morning drive show host Martin Bester, Whiteley spoke about the need for cohesion, commitment, continuity and morale in sport and in life. He explained how the successful Super Rugby team saw purpose as more important than winning.

“Our purpose is to inspire people through what we do on the field and off it,” he said.


Dr Adriana Marais speaks at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

Dr Marais is one of the 100 finalists to be part of Mars One, the first manned space expedition to the red planet. She emphasised the power of inspiration, reminding the audience how the Apollo moon-landings had inspired a generation of young people to embark on science careers, which led to advances in technology and communications. She explained how the innovations that solved resource scarcity in space could be used on earth to improve inefficiency and to resolve resource disputes.

Related: 13 Female Entrepreneurs Rising To The Top


Basetsana Khumalo speaks at the Standard Bank Business Breakfast in association with Jacaranda FM

In her address, Basetsana Kumalo reflected on her journey from Soweto schoolkid to Miss South Africa 1994, to trail-blazing businesswoman and serial entrepreneur. Having founded TV production companies, resources ventures, travel and property firms, she said her guiding wisdom was to “show up and raise your hand”.

“Challenge the status quo”, she said. “Resist gender stereotypes and help others. Your success can create a generational legacy for those that come after you.”

Jacaranda FM Marketing Manager, Minisha Patel, said the breakfast was a great success, “We offer a full spectrum of informative and entertaining content, and sharing business knowledge is part of that. It was great to see a packed house and so much passionate engagement during and after the event. Clearly our speakers’ messages resonate with the Jacaranda FM audience.”

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Entrepreneur Today

SEDA Launches A Centre For Entrepreneurship And Rapid Incubator In Upington

The Centres for Entrepreneurship (CfE) and Rapid Incubators form a strong link between institutions of higher learning and enterprise development.





The Centres for Entrepreneurship (CfE) and Rapid Incubators form a strong link between institutions of higher learning and enterprise development. It is in this spirit that Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Nomathemba November will be launching the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) CfE/Rapid Incubator in Upington.

This centre will service graduates from the university and broadly young entrepreneurs from Upington and neighbouring towns such as Keimoes, Kakamas and Groblershoop.

Related: Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda)

The VUT CfE and Rapid Incubator centre strategically located to focus on predominant economic sectors within the area they are located. The VUT centre will focus on renewable energy, agriculture and tourism sectors.

These sectors are key the local economic activities within the Upington area with a potential of accommodating new entrants in particular graduates with innovative ideas who would like to take advantage of opportunities within the area. These are young people who are going to be developed into entrepreneurs through CfE/Rapid Incubator programme.

The programme is designed to develop viable innovative ideas into small enterprises after 18 months.

The CfE/Rapid Incubator is divided into two parts, the first part is CfE which is six months theoretical training programme focusing on business entrepreneurship training, innovation and idea generation training and product conceptualisation.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

The second part of the programme is the 12 month rapid incubation open only to qualifying selected candidates. It is during this period that actual product development and refinement takes place.

During this period the commercialisation of the product entails advanced sector specific technical training, seed funding and other business support also takes place. After the 18 months the SMME is expected to be ready for the open market and will graduate from the programme.

The CfE is able to accommodate up to 60 clients but only around 20 graduates are selected at enterprise start-up week for rapid incubation by the incubation team and Seda. This is the eighth rapid incubator to be launched out of the nine planned across the country.

Related: Tender Process For The Tough-Minded

Other provinces which have launched are: KwaZulu Natal (Esayidi TVET College); Northern Cape (Northern Cape Rural TVET College); Limpopo (Vhembe TVET College); Western Cape (False Bay TVET College); Free State (Motheo TVET); Free State (Goldfields TVET) and North West (Orbit TVET College).

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