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The Journey Within – Women Leaders Take Time Out For Self-Discovery

Wits Business School is taking the Women in Leadership issue seriously. The School’s Leadership Development Centre, has developed and fine-tuned a course on the subject, and demand is growing exponentially.

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For women in the corporate sector, the ‘glass ceiling’ appears to be as stubbornly present as ever. Interestingly enough, however, Africa has more women in executive roles in companies than the average worldwide. This is according to McKinsey’s August 2016 report on gender diversity entitled Women MatterAfrica: Making gender diversity a reality.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that women are still under-represented at every level of the corporate ladder – non-management and middle and senior management – and fall in number the higher they climb. Only five percent of women make it to the top, according to the report.

Wits Business School is taking this issue seriously. The School’s Leadership Development Centre, has developed and fine-tuned its Women in Leadership course, and demand is growing exponentially.

Related: Your Leadership Journey Starts Now… And Go!

This is according to Alison Foote, Manager of the Leadership Development Centre.

“We started the Women in Leadership course with 35 delegates early in 2016. Our courses are now attracting up to 50 delegates,” says Foote.

“We first ran a pilot course in Venda in 2015, and since then, the course has undergone several changes. Using the feedback we have received from attendees, we have designed a programme which provides the kind of support and insight that women in business appear to need and appreciate.”

The course takes place over three three-day clusters over three months, which means attendees can commit to the course with minimal disruption to their work schedules. It interrogates issues such as diversity power and patriarchy, the South African workplace paradigm, strategising as a leader, negotiation and communication skills, engendered leadership and the role of emotional intelligence (EQ) in leadership success.

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One-on-one sessions and lively panel discussions make the course highly involving, and delegates get caught up in debates with titles like ‘The Imposter Syndrome in Women Leaders’ and ‘Think Leader Think Male’.

Through individual coaching, delegates embark on a journey of self-assessment and discovery, culminating in the writing of a personal leadership manifesto.

“We place emphasis on self-actualisation, and the celebration and respect of self. I have seen instances of real personal growth, even transformation, among delegates, many of whom find their voice and tap into inner resources they didn’t know they had,” says Foote.

Related: Understanding Leadership And Natural Energy

The course aims at women at various levels of an organisation, including those who are qualified and already in leadership positions who want to hone their skills, and those for whom the course will help bring about a shift in performance and confidence to help them move to the next level.

Doreen Kosi, a senior executive with many years’ experience in public and private sector leadership, relished the opportunity to take a step back and question long-held assumptions, both about herself and others.

“The EQ component of the course was a huge wake up call. For the first time in a long time, I was able to be introspective and honest with myself and my leadership style, without pressure. I was amazed at how stagnant I had become, and how presumptuous, as a leader. The course reminded me to be appreciative of others and recognise the value they bring to the table,” she says.

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A holistic approach to leadership development proved to be another path to self-discovery. “I never realised how important the balance of body, mind and soul is in leadership. I am more aware of my body and how each and every emotion it transmits each time I engage, whether with others or just with myself,” says Kosi.

The programme asks probing questions, such as does being a woman in leadership result in a different approach to strategy formulation?, and how do negotiation skills between men and women differ?

Related: Leadership Lessons From Corné Krige

“There is a serious danger of making assumptions and being set in our ways as leaders,” says Kosi.

“Emotional intelligence is important in leadership, and women should never be apologetic or modest as leaders. They are traits we need to lose without being arrogant…. these are just a few fundamentals I learnt, and they will stick with me for a very long time.”

Wits Business School (WBS) is Wits University’s Graduate School of Business Administration and offers postgraduate academic and executive education programmes. WBS' vision is to be recognised as the African business school of choice by stakeholders, while maintaining a fearlessly critical outlook, driven by a sense of professionalism, ethics and integrity. The School aims to create the academic, research, leadership and character excellence conditions that nurture graduates who grow and achieve beyond themselves as Africa's leaders, in business and society.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Enhance Your Entrepreneurial Flair With An Online Postgraduate Diploma From The University Of Pretoria

The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

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The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

The programme content focuses on the start-up processes, creativity and opportunity recognition, business planning and marketing as well as financial management. Furthermore, the programme emphasises entrepreneurial growth and small business policy development with relevance to the enabling environment.

Who should enrol?

The programme is designed for pre-, nascent and start-up entrepreneurs who want to attain an advanced degree in entrepreneurship. It is also intended for individuals who work in an entrepreneurial environment and are involved with small business policy development. Although many students in the programme have academic credentials in entrepreneurship or business management, the programme is also appropriate if your education and/or experience may be in other disciplines (e.g. engineering or medicine).

Admission requirements

A relevant bachelor’s degree.

Related: This Enterprises UP Expert Explains Why Start-Ups Really Fail

Additional programme information

The duration of the course is one year. The language of tuition is English and the course will be presented in two blocks by means of the blended learning method (70% online and 30% contact sessions). Students need continuous access to the internet to complete the course.

Course Contents

Overview of modules for Block A

  • Ideation-to-market: Starting up
  • International Business Venturing
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 1)

Overview of modules for Block B

  • Entrepreneurial Marketing
  • Entrepreneurial Supply Chain Management
  • Entrepreneurial Finance
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 2)

Click here for more information.

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Win A Business Makeover With Retail Capital To The Value Of R250 000

Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000.

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Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000. During the summer campaign, SMEs are encouraged to share the vision of how they would like to see their business grow, and led by a team of experts, Retail Capital will work with the winning SME to help make their vision come true.

While South Africa’s economy is not faring well, Retail Capital CEO Karl Westvig remains optimistic about the country’s retail and hospitality sectors. “We are seeing some green shoots, with an increase in turnover in these sectors – starting from the end of September. Economic conditions remain very tough, but businesses seem to be trading well into October and we’re hoping this continues into the festive season trading.”

According to recent statistics from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), South Africa’s retail sales rose by 5.5% year-on-year in August 2017, following a downwardly revised 1.6% gain in the previous month and above market expectations of 2.3%. It is the biggest gain in retail trade since August of 2012.

Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance

“I do believe that these sectors will see an improvement during the summer season. But, key to this will be for small business owners to ensure that they have the right amount of stock, adequate cash flow, as well as other systems in place to meet the ever-changing needs of customers,” says Westvig.

For many small businesses, however, continually adapting to market changes requires cash injections that they don’t often have.

The prize includes the following:

  • Business plan/consulting
  • Marketing strategy
  • Design and branding
  • Website and social Media and,
  • R50k capital to gear your business.

Westvig explains that the summer campaign tagline ‘Your Vision. Our Belief’ really speaks to why Retail Capital first opened its doors. “Our goal is to see the potential of small businesses and to work with them in making these become a reality.”

He adds that the idea is not to simply help one business during the campaign either. Westvig points out that one of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in the sluggish economy is enough foot traffic through their doors. “Generally, the main hurdle in creating brand awareness and projecting credibility of their establishments boils down to establishing a strong online presence.”

“One of the first ways that South Africans identify a business or service provider that they want to work with is over social media – even in a country where the digital divide has traditionally separated the technological haves from the have-nots,” he says.

He explains that companies that don’t have a social media presence are running the risk of being overlooked entirely. “They may attract customers in their own community with signage or word of mouth, but to grow a business, they need to expand their reach – and that’s where social media comes in.”

But, the reality is that resource and time constraints mean that for many SMEs, social media is not prioritised. “Unfortunately for the average small business owner, they don’t have the time or expertise to get connected.”

Understanding the importance of having an online presence, Retail Capital has also committed to developing the digital presence of all campaign entrants. This would include setting up each entrant’s digital presence on platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor, Zomato and any others that may be relevant to their specific market or industry.

“As a partner to many SMEs in South Africa, we are continually looking at new and innovative ways to help provide them with the much-needed support in order for them to realise their visions. SMEs need to be supported with initiatives like targeted education and training, supportive legislation, and funding opportunities that collectively help them grow our national economy,” says Westvig.

Related: 6 Great Tips For A Successful Shark Tank Pitch

Who we are and what we do:

“More than R1.25 billion has been extended to a range of businesses including food trucks, hair salons, restaurants, spas and franchised retail stores. Many of these businesses have not been able to raise funding in any other way, other than to go to unscrupulous lenders,”says Karl Westvig, the CEO Retail Capital, a company that provides working capital with the help of innovative lending technology.

“We have also estimated that for every R160 000 we lend, we create a new job. This means that 625 jobs have been created purely by enabling small businesses to get the funding they need for working capital requirements or expansion opportunities.”

Retail Capital’s system, which enables it to advance funding to small businesses, based on real time information on credit card transactions, is providing a new funding alternative to entrepreneurs who have previously been turned away by banks. Because it is able to get actual sales information, it can approve funding immediately, and allow for flexible repayment options based on sales cycles of the particular businesses it is funding.

“This creates significant opportunity for small business owners to focus on their business and grow volumes or look for expansion opportunities rather than spend their time frantically trying to repay debt or keep the business alive after debt repayments have eaten away at any cash reserves they might have had.”

Retail Capital funding is repaid by it taking a percentage of a business’s recorded credit or debit card sales, with repayments fluctuating in line with their business cycle. This has the effect of ensuring that it isn’t overburdened with debt.

“In the past six years since starting the business, small businesses have had the benefit of R1 billion in funding they would have been unable to get through traditional channels,”says Westvig.

Against the backdrop of recessionary conditions in South Africa, Retail Capital’s client information reveals growth in informal sector turnover across a number of industries.

“We believe that growth in the informal sector is outstripping that of the formal sector,”says Westvig.

As a large proportion of the businesses it funds are women- and black-owned, there is evidence that entrepreneurs who have previously been excluded from access to finance are now enjoying success now that their access to finance problem has been solved.

Win A Business Makeover with Retail Capital

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