Nozala wants sisters to join corporate revolution
SALUKAZI Dakile-Hlongwane typifies the rising black SA woman who has transcended barriers of race, class and gender and looks set to succeed in the corporate environment.
An assistant general manager at BOE NatWest, the soft-spoken Dakile-Hlongwane also heads Nozala, one of the few women-only investment companies spearheading the emergence of women in business.
This week Nozala announced it had acquired, for R140-million, a 10% stake in Educor, the high-flying private education and personnel placement group.
The deal, structured in two tranches, involves an initial acquisition of a 6% stake for R73-million. The balance, to be paid by the end of June next year, will allow Nozala to nominate board members for Educor and its subsidiaries.
Nozala has no doubt taken a leaf from the pioneering work of such groups as the Women's Investment Portfolio and the Women's Development Bank. The challenge is for other women to follow, says Dakile-Hlongwane, who was this week honoured by the Black Management Foundation for her contribution to black empowerment.
"I wish that more and more sisters could replicate our efforts so we could attack the business environment in numbers. Unless we do that we will miss out on breaking the corporate glass ceilings faced by women," she says.
Certainly, Nozala's investments have been large enough to allow its members to have meaningful participation in some male- dominated boardrooms.
Nozala, and Dakile-Hlongwane, shot to prominence late last year when the company emerged from the Johnnic deal with a 6% stake in the National Empowerment Consortium, which controls 35% of the industrial group.
This was followed by the acquisition of a 33.3% stake in catering company Fedics, using a vehicle that included Investment Progress Group Holdings and Siphumelele Investments. There are other smaller investments by Nozala, whose investment portfolio has grown to around R350-million.
Nozala's version of women's empowerment first took shape 18 months ago when the 10 founding members approached institutions with the idea of a women's investment company, whose aim would be to promote "economic empowerment of women in general and black women in particular".
Institutions enthusiastically took up a 15% interest in Nozala for R3-million. An array of other empowerment groups took another 24%, but at a 90% discount to what the institutions put down, and African Merchant Bank (formerly DLJ Pleiade) took up 10%. The founding members of Nozala (including Dakile-Hlongwane, Dawn Mokhobo and Jean Ngubane), who each put down R10 000 to participate in the venture, retained the remaining 51%.
Dakile-Hlongwane says she has worked in male-dominated environments, both domestically and internationally. "I have learned to challenge male attitudes, not openly, but in a patient way," she says.
Most of her working life has been spent in development banking institutions. After obtaining her MA from the Williams College in Massachusetts in Development Economics and Statistics, Dakile-Hlongwane joined the Lesotho National Development Corporation as a senior project officer and lectured part-time in business economics.
In 1983 she moved to the African Development Bank (ADB) as a senior loans officer. When Nelson Mandela was released in 1990 she joined the trek back to SA and spent 3 years at the Development Bank of Southern Africa. In 1993 she returned to the ADB for two years and came back to SA in 1995 to join FirstCorp Merchant Bank as senior general manager in 1995. A year late she joined BOE NatWest as assistant general manager.