New Businesswomen’s Association chief aims to bring more entrepreneurs on board

2010-04-10 08:02

Where

is the Businesswomen’s Association (BWA) in the psyche of the country, and what

is your immediate challenge?

Unlike Basetsana, I am

not a public figure.

Basetsana has managed to turn the BWA from an organisation that

used to be perceived as elitist into an association that has become relevant to

everyone.

She has created a big reputation for the organisation, and

maintaining that ­reputation makes me nervous. It is a ­challenge because people

will always measure me against what she has achieved.

Any

new plans of action for the BWA going forward?
I would like to

see the organisation being more relevant to young female ­entrepreneurs by

coming up with more programmes that will cater for their needs. The organisation

should start stamping its authority because in the past it has been lollygagged

at the periphery of ­mainstream discourse.

Our influence should grow such that the government would see a need

to consult us more frequently over policy issues.

For instance, it has benefited our ­organisation when we

participated in many projects initiated by the ministry of women, children and

people with ­disabilities.

It would also be meaningful if we could be involved in more

initiatives of the ­department of trade and industry.

In the past, we have worked with the department, but it has not

been on a ­similar level as with the ministry of ­women.

In addition, a plan of action is going to be implemented with the

aim of creating and maintaining ties with organisations ­representing women from

specific ­sectors, such as the SA Council for ­Businesswomen and the National

Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry Women’s Chamber.

We have worked with other female ­bodies in the past, but the BWA

did not have a clear-cut strategy to create and maintain such relationships. And

we want such partnerships to be mutually beneficial.

For instance, during our international travels, we often spot

sector-specific ­opportunities. A relationship with other organisations would

make it easier for us to share information about such ­opportunities.

Last

week the BWA released its seventh yearly census, which tracks the advancement of

­women in corporate South ­Africa. Is the census playing a major role in

influencing how companies view transformation?
The impact of the

census over the years has been minimal, but we have been ­having post-launch

strategies.

These events open channels of ­engagement with stakeholders to find

out about the challenges the bad-performing organisations face in transforming.

These sessions also look at why some companies are taking so long to appoint

women. After that, we would propose solutions.

What

do you think is the major stumbling block for companies to implement

transformation?
The major stumbling

blocks are ­psychological. We have policies in place, but the executives in

those companies do not have confidence in women leaders.



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