By Koketso Mamabolo
Each year the Standard Bank Top Women Awards recognises entrepreneurs who “demonstrate excellence, ingenuity and achievement”. The women who receive this award are leaders who are making their contribution to economic development and increasing employment opportunities.
Here Top Women Leaders looks back at the winners from 2015 until 2019, starting with Marthie Jansen Van Rensburg, the 2015 winner, and closes with Zeenat Ghoor, the 2019 winner of the Standard Bank Top Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Marthie Jansen Van Rensburg (Ekurhuleni Artisans & Skills Training Centre) – 2015
Marthie Jansen van Rensburg has played part in forming not one but four businesses, three of which were formed in Botswana. The fourth, started in 2006 as a response to unemployment in Kempton Park, is Ekurhuleni Artisans & Skills Training Centre which has gone on to help tens of thousands gain skills as artisans. Starting with one welding machine, a borrowed factory space and two staff members, Marthie has flourished as the Director and sole owner.
“Our purpose is to rebrand these once underestimated career options as an alternative choice for young South Africans,” she told Top Women Leaders.
Marthie studied Small Business Management at the Brits Technical College as well as Kempton College in 1996. Along with her management qualifications, Marthie also completed a diploma in Bookkeeping to Trial Balance. Marthie is also a past finalist in the Women-Owned SMME and Young Achiever of the Year categories.
Sarisa Ferreira (Areli Veg) – 2016
The winner of the 2016 award was former paralympic athlete Sarisa Ferreira who was recognised for the work she has done with Areli Veg, a farming business in the Eastern Cape which started with 6 staff members and quickly went on to grow, seeing a profit from within their first year operating.
A 100m and 200m sprinter at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, Sarisa is a stellar example of overcoming challenges which life may throw at you. She was diagnosed with cancer and had her leg amputated at 16.
The business itself was born out of necessity, as a response to a drought in the Eastern Cape. Areli Veg began to provide fruit and vegetables to the Kouga District and has gone on to scale up.
While she has found success in farming and athletics, Sarisa has also studied pharmacy, teaching and public relations.
Lynette Magasa (Boniswa Corporate Solutions) – 2017
Lynette Magasa’s advice to entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses? “You have to be patient, disciplined and dedicated but, most importantly, you need to invest in having your own mentor.” Lynette received the Top Women Entrepreneur award in 2017 after being a finalist in 2013 and was recognised as the Young Achiever of the Year in 2015.
Lynette is the founder and CEO of the Boniswa Group, a telecommunications company that has made wonderful strides since its foundation in 2004. “My journey has enabled me to learn and to understand that it’s okay to stay in my own lane – to chase legacy rather than success,” she told Top Women Leaders.
It was working as a receptionist, and a love for answering the phone, that led to her starting a telecommunications business. “I used to love answering the telephone and whenever I said ‘Hello,’ it brought a smile to my face. I suppose the infinite power of the universe turned my passion and dreams into a reality.”
Veronica Motloutsi (SmartDigital Solutions) – 2018
The 2018 Top Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to the founder and CEO of SmartDigital Solutions, Veronica Motloutsi, who is currently the Board Chair of Celcom Group SA, non-Executive Board Member of Sentech, Director of Vulatel, and non-Executive Director of FTTx Council Africa. Veronica was on the judges’ panel for the 2020 edition of the Top Women Awards.
A former part-time lecturer at the Tshwane University Technology, she has published two academic papers focusing on Information Technology: “The effectiveness of programmes to recruit and retain women in ICT” and “The state of IT governance in the top 20 IT spending companies in South Africa”.
Zeenat Ghoor (Aspire Consulting Engineers) – 2019
“Be the change you want to see” is a motto that Aspire Consulting Director Zeenat Ghoor lived by when she was still at school. This motto is part of the drive that led to her committing her life’s work to making some sort of difference in the lives of others. Her route down the path of civil engineering began while taking part in social and welfare projects, where she realised she wanted to study a field where she could impact people’s daily lives.
At the end of 2005 she graduated with her civil engineering degree and formed Aspire Consulting as a way to provide opportunities for artisans struggling to find work. Self-funding the business speaks to how invested she is in making a difference. “The journey is not easy but the difference you can make is incredible,” she wrote in 2020.
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