It’s still an uphill battle for women in business

2014-06-09 00:00

IT is tough for women to succeed in business, but the Business Women’s Association (BWA) regional awards on Friday in Durban showed there are many women who are succeeding against the odds.

Statistics SA figures showed last week just how hard it has become for young women in particular to find jobs and make it in business — more than 39,5% of young women are out of work.

Cheri Labuschagne, project co-ordinator for an annual workshop the BWA holds for female pupils, said yesterday a common problem is young women aren’t prepared enough for the transition from school into the business world, particularly if they are from under-privileged backrounds.

They often do not know, for instance, how to prepare a CV; the appropriate dress code and what to say at an interview; how to get the right help; or they may lack Internet access. This makes them demotivated.

When women leave a tertiary education institution with a diploma, they might find themselves being “the tea-girl”, or they may encounter difficulties in entering male dominated industries.

“We tell them that it is might not be an easy road … that they need to persevere,” said Labuschagne.

Talk show host, international award-winning entrepreneur and author Felicia Mabuza-Suttle said at the event that each of the finalists will have been able to tell great stories of courage to get where they were as finalists for the awards.

She gave seven strategies for women to be successful. She urged women to: focus on what you want to achieve, without feeling guilty about it; develop courage and take risks; revel in your success, big or small; read biographies of successful people you admire; get close to people you admire; walk tall and exude confidence in all situations; and smile as it is one of the most powerful strategies for enhancing a women’s power.

“It is not where you come from that matters, it is where you are going that matters. It is never to late to realise your dreams,” she said.

Regional BWA Special Recognition Lifetime Award winner, Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Leona Theron dedicated her award as a symbol of hope to the people of Wentworth, where she grew up and where crime, drug and domestic abuse are still rife.

At the age of 12, she had started a home industry business, making and selling sweets, the income of which was used to pay for schooling needs and music lessons.

Chief executive of Transnet Pipelines, Sharla Pillay, was named BWA’s KZN Business Executive of the Year.

Owner of Alliance Enterprise Consulting, Debbie Thackray, won the emerging entrepreneur award.

General manager of Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, Samantha Croft, won the corporate executive category.

Highway Hospice Association director Dr Sarah Fakroodeen won the award in the professional category.

Dr Arthi Ramkissoon, founder and chief executive of KZN Children’s Hospital Trust, won the social entrepreneurship award for her campaign to raise money to restore the Children’s Hospital in Durban.

Sandhya Maharaj, founder of Kieral Springs, a company specialising in bed spring manufacture, won the entrepreneurship category award.

Pria Hassan, chief executive officer Women of Africa Fuels and Oils, won the Special Sponsors Award.

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