Fearless and resilient businesswomen who have made an impact on their communities and on the economy of the Eastern Cape were celebrated at the annual BWA Regional Business Achievers awards ceremony on Saturday evening.
Six finalists stole the spotlight among a kaleidoscope of successful women in various categories.
Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Robyn Spring scooped the title in the professional category and a neurologist at Frere Hospital, Dr Anastasia Rossouw, one of only two in the province, took the title in the women in government category. Advocate for women empowerment and gender equality Dr Lesley Ann Foster, the director at Masimanyane Women’s International support centre, took the title for social entrepreneur while Maggie Louw, the owner of a women-owned forensic consulting company in the region, SILC, became emerging entrepreneur of the year.
In the corporate category, Stretford Holdings project and sales manager Petta Maclellan came out tops.
A partner-owner at Inyathi Plant Hire and Guesthouse, Nelani Kaiser, was named entrepreneur of the year.
The glitzy event was hosted by the East London chapter of the Businesswomen’s Association (BWA) of South Africa at The Venue at Hemingways Mall.
Sponsors included Investec Specialist Bank, Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Daily Dispatch, TruFm and Hemingways Casino.
One of five judges, Pralene Mahabir – last year’s winner of the corporate category and performance manager executive at Mercedes Benz South Africa – said they’d had a difficult task in selecting overall winners in the different categories from a pool of such inspirational women.
“The brief for 2017 was identifying women who have a business narrative and can be an inspiration to other businesswomen and whom the BWA can call brand champions.”
Shortlisting was based on data and reflection provided by the nominees that demonstrated an ability to achieve business success, she added.
“You are all inspirational, powerful women who captured our consciousness as you shared the remarkable stories of your lives. We wish you well as you embark on the next phase of your journey through this maze we call life.”
Spring said: “It’s amazing and very humbling to have received such an honour.”
Rossouw said she was “super excited”.
“This award has validated my purpose for living.”
Foster was sad that only one person could be named the winner, and lauded the work done by the other finalists in her division.
“This award is a reflection of the work being done by Masimanyane and its staff of 73 people, as well as the board,” she said.
Louw said winning was both a personal and a professional achievement.
“Given the statistics for success among emerging enterprises, it is rewarding to know that others believe I am one of those successes. Winning is a motivation and a responsibility to honour this trust.”
Maclellan attributed her win to working with integrity.
“If you live and work with integrity, you will reap all the rewards.”
Kaiser said her win allowed her to showcase the Star Centre and increase awareness of the company, especially being a woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry. — firstname.lastname@example.org