The Power of Women

FOREWORD FROM THE DEPUTY EDITOR

It is an honour every year to work on such a monumental project, through which we celebrate women in all their roles. Reading about their inspiring work gives one hope in a world that often merely pays lip service to true equality. It has been a difficult two years of fighting the pandemic, feeding those who have lost work, and coping with the loss and devastation in many people’s lives. The women we are celebrating this year have not been spared. However, they have continued the important work of building our society, changing spaces that were out of bounds for women, and bringing up others as they climb.

Our focus on the women selected this year highlights their perseverance, consistency and ability to influence positive change and growth. Their perseverance is not simply about going to work every day. 

It is centred on actively and intentionally seeking a path that will allow them to make the biggest difference in their field. These are women who are making a difference in their communities, science, investigation, business and agriculture. It is a difficult path, many of these women will tell you, riddled with inequality, loss and hard lessons.

Consistently, these women do what it takes to forge ahead through unchartered terrain to etch out a new path for the next generation. Many have left their comfort zones to make the changes required of their calling or purpose, transitioning from stable jobs to innovation, moving out of government to the NGO space, from mining to technology, from healing to food production, and from home builders to community leaders. What a world women are building.

The women we are celebrating are those who are a reminder of the old adage, “to those that much is given, much is expected”. They work tirelessly for inclusive success by changing their organisations’ systems, creating institutions whose focus is upliftment, and sharing their knowledge so that others can thrive and pass the baton forward.

To all women, we say: Yes, you are the right person for the job. You can take failure and learn from it. You can celebrate yourself as you celebrate others, and you can change the world — and your own corner of it. You are enough and we are waiting to celebrate your successes, as we have with these brilliant, hard-working and innovative 50 Powerful Women.

– Athandiwe Saba

ABOUT OUR HEADLINE SPONSOR

AfroCentric Group is the most diversified healthcare company in Southern Africa, with more than four million lives covered in the region. It is the most transformed entity listed in the healthcare sector of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, with a focus on health administration, health risk management, pharmaceuticals, wellness and disease management, as well as health-centric information and communications technology-based solutions.

The Board of AfroCentric is led by a dynamic and phenomenal woman, Dr Anna Mokgokong. Founded in 2008 on the core philosophy of promoting transformation and empowerment, AfroCentric Group has, since its establishment, focused its efforts on making a sustainable impact in healthcare by increasing access to sustainable, affordable and quality healthcare.

It has done this by expanding and diversifying its presence in the healthcare industry. Entities within the group include AfroCentric Technologies, AfroCentric Distribution Services, AfroCentric Wellness, AfroCentric Primary Care, PharmacyDirect and its largest entity, Medscheme.

AfroCentric also prides itself on being an empowered and empowering employer, and is committed to gender transformation in the workplace. Its commitment to women empowerment has yielded excellent results — 71% of its employees are women and three out of five of its executive directors with voting rights are women. Furthermore, 46% of the total headcount of senior management roles are women. In addition to this, Afrocentric Group provides bursaries to deserving students and is currently funding the studies of four young women studying medicine.

Akhona Sass, 36

Akhona Sass, 36

Managing director
Intotek (Pty) Ltd
Johannesburg

"Akhona Sass hopes that one day we can get rid of terms such as “the IT guy”, and has steadily been working to subvert the dominance of men in the IT industry by employing more young women at her company, Intotek. Sass became director and owner of the technology and...

Sandiso Ngubane | mg.co.za
Zinaschke Steyn, 33

Zinaschke Steyn, 33

Red-winemaker
Nederburg Wines
Western Cape

“It’s important to start from the bottom and not be scared to get your hands dirty.”

Shai Rama | mg.co.za
Zaakira Mahomed, 48

Zaakira Mahomed, 48

Co-founder
Mina Foundation
Johannesburg

“We wanted to decrease absenteeism and pregnancy rates to keep girls in school. They shouldn’t be missing out on an education because they cannot afford something like a sanitary product, which is a basic human right.”

Loren Shapiro | mg.co.za
Thobeka Ndlovu, 30

Thobeka Ndlovu, 30

Career counsellor/career development coach/human resources specialist
Career Hot-Spot
KwaZulu-Natal

“I lost my brother in the process of him trying to find a job in this country. Now I strive to give back to my community, in remembrance of him, so no one finds themselves in the same situation.”

Andie Reeves | mg.co.za
Tracy Brander, 51

Tracy Brander, 51

Board member
Silverback Drills
Carolina, Mpumalanga and Germiston

Tracy Brander is not afraid of getting her hands dirty. In fact, she would rather be in the field than in the boardroom, drilling for water in an effort to bring safe drinking water and sanitation to all who need it.

Carol Chamberlain | mg.co.za
Tshepo Mathabatha, 38

Tshepo Mathabatha, 38

Founding director, image consultant and etiquette coach
Tea O’Clock
Limpopo

“Let’s stop fighting to have a seat at the table with the boys. Let’s build our own table.”

@teaoclockza | mg.co.za
Vuyokazi Nkevu Langbooi, 38

Vuyokazi Nkevu Langbooi, 38

Social worker
Department of social development
Port Elizabeth

“I was taught to treat people with respect and dignity. If I have to sit where you are sitting, eat what you are eating, or even bathe you in order for me to build trust and help you, I do that.”

Sandiso Ngubane | mg.co.za
Siddika Osman, 43

Siddika Osman, 43

Chief executive officer
Nkgwete IT Solutions
Witbank, Mpumalanga

“Technology is a key enabler to propel Africa forward. If we can use technology to innovate, then we can reduce many of the struggles and inequalities we face.”

Loren Shapiro | mg.co.za
Dr Lungi Nyathi, 40

Dr Lungi Nyathi, 40

Executive Director: Medscheme and AfroCentric
Medscheme and AfroCentric
Johannesburg

“I want to play a more Pan-African role in the healthcare system of our continent in the future. South Africa has so much that can help other African countries accelerate their health system journeys. I have learnt a lot in my career thus far and I would like to use what I have to build the health systems in other countries.”

Jabulile Dlamini-Qwesha | mg.co.za
Mpho Motloung, 39

Mpho Motloung, 39

Founder
Petals SA
Johannesburg

“Growing up, I was fed the wrong information about periods. I don’t want my daughter, or anyone, to have the same experience.”

“Giving period products to menstruators is just part of the solution; there is a lot of education that is needed as well.”

Andie Reeves | mg.co.za
Sebabatso Tsaoane, 27

Sebabatso Tsaoane, 27

Midwife
Black Women Arise Women’s Health Foundation
Bloemfontein

“I do hope I get to see a time when women in my field are more respected and receive more recognition. Nurses and midwives put their lives on the line to protect and heal those in their care, sometimes under extremely unfavourable circumstances.”

Jabulile Dlamini-Qwesha | mg.co.za
Refilwe Ledwaba, 41

Refilwe Ledwaba, 41

Executive director, pilot, blogger and lecturer
South African Women in the Aviation and Aerospace Industries, and Girls Fly in Africa Programme
Johannesburg

“In my 20 years in the industry and from advice I received early on in my career, I discovered that there were far more people who wanted me to succeed than those that did not. I seek those people out.”

Sandiso Ngubane | mg.co.za
S’phelele Moshobane, 30

S’phelele Moshobane, 30

Founder and managing director
The Noble Woman
Tzaneen

“I aspire to build leaders who will lead and mentor others. I also aspire to establish hubs where women and girl children will have access to resources and mentorship in business.”

Sandiso Ngubane | mg.co.za
Sue Hedden, 38

Sue Hedden, 38

Founder and director
Woza Moya
Ufafa Valley

“In standing together as a community, we are trying to effect change for the good of everyone. By keeping the most vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly, at the centre of our hearts, we have been able to have a stronger and more powerful voice and have protected our community members.”

Jabulile Dlamini-Qwesha | mg.co.za
Thabile Makgala, 39

Thabile Makgala, 39

Mining executive
Implats, eastern limb operation
Johannesburg

The mining sector was created by men, for men. We cannot change the industry and talk about diversity, equity and inclusion and exclude the men from the conversation.

Loren Shapiro | mg.co.za
Reneé Thompson, 43

Reneé Thompson, 43

Founder and managing director
Thompson Trust and Susters4Life
Worcester

Reneé Thompson’s inspiration lies in the strength and determination of women to build collectively for the benefit of themselves, their children and the greater community.

Anita Makgetla | mg.co.za
Nikki Brighton, 60

Nikki Brighton, 60

Writer
Freelance
KwaZulu-Natal

“I’m all for anything that builds community. Unless we have a strong community, we are not going to get anywhere with anything.”

Andie Reeves | mg.co.za
Phinah Kodisang, 43

Phinah Kodisang, 43

CEO
Soul City
Johannesburg

“I want to see many more black women achieving greatness, not being apologetic for wanting more, wanting better and claiming positions and spaces — without the threat of violence hanging over their heads or discrimination putting them at a disadvantage.”

Afrika Bogatsu | mg.co.za
Refiloe Molefe, 61

Refiloe Molefe, 61

Urban farmer and community leader
Bertrams Inner City Farm
Johannesburg

“If you want to see something good, start by doing it yourself so that you inspire the next person. That’s how we change the world.”

Afrika Bogatsu | mg.co.za
Nobukhosi Dlamini, 39

Nobukhosi Dlamini, 39

Founder and lead consultant
Bahati Tech and GIFT Foundation
Cape Town

“There is no reason why women in our communities cannot be trained to access global careers. The educational resources are available, and our young people are definitely talented enough to access them.”

Afrika Bogatsu | mg.co.za
Lusanda Ngesi, 41

Lusanda Ngesi, 41

Environmental management manager
Eskom
Gauteng

“I am a strong believer that whatever you set your mind to is possible.”

Francesco Nassimbeni | mg.co.za
Buhle Madlala, 40

Buhle Madlala, 40

Director
The Brand Factory
Johannesburg

“I hope that one day women will get offered the same credentials and afforded the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Women athletes still get paid far less than men and are overlooked for sponsorship, which undermines their talent.”

Jabulile Dlamini-Qwesha | mg.co.za
Chantell Witten, 49

Chantell Witten, 49

Lecturer
Faculty of health sciences, University of the Free State, and nutrition lead for the South African Civil Society for Women's, Adolescents' and Children's Health (SACSoWACH)
Bloemfontein

Chantell Witten has been engaged in the field of food and nutrition for children for 25 years. She is a dietician with a PhD in nutrition and is currently a lecturer in the faculty of health sciences at the University of the Free State. Her passion lies in infant and young child food and nutrition, with a particular focus on the normalisation of breastfeeding.

Carol Chamberlain | mg.co.za
Danai Nhando, 38

Danai Nhando, 38

Country director, South Africa
Change.org
Johannesburg

“I want to see more young women venture into areas that look very daunting, and to realise that they can take up these spaces and own them.”

Loren Shapiro | mg.co.za
Nthabiseng Moleko, 39

Nthabiseng Moleko, 39

Deputy chairperson and development economist
Commission for Gender Equality and University of Stellenbosch Business School
Cape Town

“I would encourage us to find local, Africa-embedded solutions that consider the local context. All disciplines need us, and women are able to conceive new things that bring life. The generation of ideas for the current and future generations needs more innovators, diverse thinkers and disruptors.”

Sandiso Ngubane | mg.co.za
Jacqui Taylor, 56

Jacqui Taylor, 56

Chief executive & founder
Rural Tourism Africa
Stellenbosch

“I hope for our mental and emotional stability as a country that we can embrace more of this type of natural tourism.”

Loren Shapiro | mg.co.za
Lwethu Zwane, 33

Lwethu Zwane, 33

Head of investment
A G7 government department
Johannesburg

“I advise younger women to not shy away from ‘stretch’ opportunities. In fact, seek them out and do not be scared to fail. It’s how one learns and develops skills.”

Shai Rama | mg.co.za
Anela Mahamba, 31

Anela Mahamba, 31

Company founder
Kore Business Solutions
Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth)

“If we can create a generation of great ethical, accountable leaders we can build businesses that are responsible and value people more than profit and that look after people’s mental health.”

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za
Daniela Bascelli, 44

Daniela Bascelli, 44

Global digital marketing specialist and business development lead
Daniela Bascelli International
Johannesburg

“I encourage and pursue a life of doing good and helping others where they cannot always help and support themselves in life’s different and very often tragic circumstances.”

Shai Rama | mg.co.za
Esha Mansingh, 35

Esha Mansingh, 35

Executive vice-president of corporate affairs and investor relations
Imperial Logistics
Johannesburg

Mansingh has shown how to use corporate power and influence to improve the lives of the women in her business, as well as in the broader community.

Anita Makgetla | mg.co.za
Flavia Senkubuge, 42

Flavia Senkubuge, 42

Doctor
University of Pretoria
Pretoria

“There needs to be a realisation of our interconnectedness as people. Once we realise that ‘I am because we are’ — or ubuntu — it will become easier to advocate and implement many of the desires we have for the health system in South Africa and globally.”

Afrika Bogatsu | mg.co.za
Lebogang Mashigo, 35

Lebogang Mashigo, 35

Supervisor
Lesco
Johannesburg

“If you have disabled kids, don’t keep them at home; there are opportunities outside.”

Andie Reeves | mg.co.za
Dr Abongile Qamata, 36

Dr Abongile Qamata, 36

Lead in alternatives to hospitalisation at AfroCentric
AfroCentric
Johannesburg

“Young women and girls, you have so much potential that you need to exploit. Hard work and potential need to come together and, when they do, they make magic.”

Nabeel Allie | mg.co.za