Dynamic young women lead the way
The Businesswoman of the Year award was launched in 1980 to pay tribute to women who are making their mark in the business world. LEE-ANNE SMITH reports. JEREMY GLYN took the pictures
THE prestigious Businesswoman of the Year Award is the Executive Women's Club's (EWC) flagship annual event, says EWC president Adrienne Egbers.
"Not only is it a major focus for the EWC throughout the year and the most important activity funding our bursary drive, there is no other competition in SA which highlights the achievements of our businesswomen," she says.
The world is changing - irrespective of the industry - and more younger people are coming to the fore. This is evident in the average age of the women on the shortlist for this year's Business Woman of the Year Award - the average age is in the mid-30s, which indicates success early in their careers.
Egbers says the emergence of younger women who are driven, motivated and making a difference is very positive for the economic future of the country.
Formed almost 20 years ago, EWC is a national association which was launched to provide a network for women executives, professionals and entrepreneurs. Membership of the club is by invitation only and is confined to women who are recognised leaders in their fields. However, the EWC is also working on introducing associate membership for younger members.
She says the club has long recognised that proactive support is necessary if more women are to be encouraged to empower themselves to assume positions of responsibility in business in SA.
The desire to showcase a regular succession of high-profile women achievers led to the 1980 launch of the Businesswoman of the Year Award - the most prestigious award any female executive, entrepreneur or professional can receive.
Past winners - now members of the Businesswoman of the Year Academy - include well-known names such as Val Mickleburgh, Margaret Lessing, the late Marina Maponya, Reeva Forman, June Kritzinger, Dr Anette van der Merwe, Jane Raphaely, Joan Joffee, Carol Scott, Pru Pful, Yvonne Loitering, Dr Jaclyn Kane-Berman, Margerett MacFarlane, Dawn Mokhobo, Veronica Devine, Wendy Lucas-Bull, Pam Golding and Bronwen Phillips.
Since 1979, First National Bank has supported the goals of the EWC and the bank's annual sponsorship covers both operational and staffing costs.
Anne Jaquet of FNB Corporate Affairs, a trustee of the club, says the bank is involved in the activities of the club and has provided a secure platform from which to launch projects - the most notable being the Businesswoman of the Year Award.
The EWC awards bursaries to deserving women whose financial circumstances would not allow them to study. The Bursary Fund was established in 1988 from members' donations. Donations from big business have assisted several deserving women but demand for bursaries has always exceeded the club's ability to provide them.
Since 1994 the EWC has made a concerted drive to attract substantial and sustained donations to the Bursary Fund. To date 20 women have been awarded EWC bursaries.
The EWC has also embarked on a drive to form relationships between itself and black businesswomen's groups. Joint ventures include mentorship of final-year students and an interest group to lobby government on issues of concern.