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Eltena Rethman

Head of training and communications
Community Chest of Western Cape
Masters in education (Cape Peninsula University of Technology); honours in development studies (Uuversity of the Western Cape); advanced diploma in management, strategic management, human resources and marketing strategy (South African Institute of Management); national diploma in teaching (College of Cape Town).
Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape, South African Institute of Management, College of Cape Town.

With more than 24 years of experience across different sectors in a number of local and international organisations, Eltena Rethman is an expert in the NGO landscape.

Having grown up in a township in a working-class family, Rethman’s circumstances were anything but easy. As a child, she lived and witnessed trauma and abuse, which she believes allowed her to develop empathy.

Seeing the way her “swartskaapie” (black sheep) brother was treated by her family and community, and his subsequent descent into drug abuse and then prison, is an experience that shaped her future.

Later on in her career, Rethman would go on to run counselling and rehabilitative programmes in juvenile prison.

Today, Rethman heads up training and communications at Community Chest of Western Cape. Heading up both departments does not come without a packed schedule, but this suits Rethman, as she says she thrives on adrenaline and pressure and enjoys a good challenge.

Most days, Rethman’s day begins at 3am when her family is asleep. As a mother of two boys, Rethman keeps firm to her commitment not to take out her laptop when her children are awake.

“Being in humanitarian aid, I don’t want my children to say I had so much time for other people and I never had time for them,” she explains.

Initially without a matric, Rethman took on a part-time job to complete her schooling. She has never stopped studying since. She holds various qualifications in education, business management and development studies.

Now at age 47, Rethman is completing her master’s in education and was selected to present at a conference in Senegal later this year. Her findings have already been published in an early childhood development book, and she hasn’t even completed her degree.

Rethman strongly believes that education is one of the variables — but not the only one — that can change your life.

In her twenties, bright-eyed and eager to see the world, Rethman quit her job and took up au pairing in Belgium. The first of many trips abroad, she says travel opened her mind and changed her worldview.

Rethman hopes that girls from townships can get the opportunity to travel and have access to life-changing experiences. For her, travel and experience are other important variables: “As much as education and knowledge shapes who we are, your environment is your biggest teacher.”

During her honours degree, Rethman became blind in her left eye. She then had to learn to adapt to her world as a partially-sighted woman. While this was difficult, she realised that her adversities are her strengths and this only whetted her appetite to do more.

In the future, Rethman hopes to achieve her doctorate in education. She also aims to influence decision-making at a societal level, particularly for women like her. She envisions collaborating with other successful women to form a mentoring and support network to make meaningful change.

Rethman hopes this network can give women from marginalised backgrounds and women with disabilities access to resources and a safe space to develop emotionally, psychologically and physically into their best selves.

“I want to see other women rise above their circumstances and environments, whether it’s gender-based violence and abuse or their home situation,”

she says.

Rethman is driven to open doors for these women in townships, providing them with the support she needed when she was younger.

Author - Shaazia Ebrahim
Tshegofatso Phetlhe

Tshegofatso Phetlhe

Creative director
VMLY&R, Johannesburg
Art direction and graphic design with a postgrad in marketing & communications
Red & Yellow Creative School of Business

“If we need to fight the good fight, I will fight it,” says Tshegofatso Phetlhe, an award-winning creative director who uses her advertising work to transform the South African narrative to one that is more socially inclusive.
Phetlhe is inspired by the intimacy of human connection that the advertising industry requires, both with her audience and her team that she works with. As a black creative, she represents various, often othered, black subcultures in her campaigns to create work that is impactful. “Without that very true human connection, the work is just wallpaper,” she says.
The Nando’s #rightmyname campaign has been Phetlhe’s most meaningful project to date.
The campaign highlighted the red line that appears under names written on platforms like Google and Microsoft, indicating a spelling error. The idea was conceived when she noticed the red line under her name after signing an email.

“It started with a conversation and then it spread into this beautiful campaign,” she remembers. The work she did saw the campaign win in multiple categories in the 2018 Loerie Awards.
Phetlhe values social transformation and uses her work to create conversation and change. “It’s a personal fight,” she says.
As a black woman, she is able to advocate for advertising projects that she knows will represent and resonate with black women. “When people see themselves in the work, it’s probably my favourite moment,” she explains.
She also uses recruitment to empower black women. As a creative director she has the ability to bolster a team with people who look like her. “I’m putting down the ladder behind me. I’m not going up alone,” she says.
Generating this transformed workplace allows the people in it to create more freely without having to over-explain the black experience in South Africa. “They [black women] don’t have to carry some of the stuff they have to carry when they walk into other rooms.”
A goal that Phetlhe is working towards is to change South Africa’s status as the rape capital of the world and she is using her campaign work to get there.
“It’s in the language,” she remarks. Using language in advertisements to represent women, especially black women, as being something more than just strong will create space for them to be vulnerable and speak out against their abusers. “It’s audacious, I know. It’s also ambitious, but it’s close to my heart,” Phetlhe explains.
“Winning alone is not an option,” she emphasises. Teamwork is one of the most valuable aspects of her job. Campaigns created in advertising require a lot of collaboration, and Phetlhe not only recognises this but refuses to be acknowledged without her colleagues.

“I never want to win alone because it’s not as fulfilling as taking everyone with you,”

she says.

“The saying ‘You strike a woman, you strike a rock’ is powerful, but what this metaphor does is encourage a narrative that women are only strong. I am also soft. I am also powerful. I am also funny. I am all these other parts of life and humanity.”

Khadeeja Allie |
Rethabile Mashale Sonibare

Rethabile Mashale Sonibare

Managing director
Molo Mhlaba
PhD social work
Stellenbosch University

There are a number of factors discouraging young girls from developing an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, says Rethabile Mashale Sonibare, pioneering founder and managing director of the global initiative, Molo Mhlaba.

“Girls are not socialised early enough through STEM toys, schooling and content. STEM toys are predominantly associated with, and marketed to, boys,” Sonibare says.

Although it may seem obvious, research into this cultural occurrence — how gender divides start in early childhood development — clearly supports Sonibare’s thesis: young boys are systemically encouraged to believe that they make natural scientists, instigators, thinkers and inventors, while girls receive the cultural message that they do not.

This, together with possible hostility in STEM-related working environments and persistent patriarchal attitudes in our social landscape, presents a considerable obstacle to young women — barriers Sonibare is determined to overcome.

Her impressive non-profit start-up organisation Molo Mhlaba champions the right for all to quality education in the fields of technology, science and mathematics.

Since its inception in 2018, it has gained remarkable traction despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges presented in 2020 by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The organisation now boasts eight global chapters, reaching as far afield as Belgium, Canada and Italy, while honouring its ethos of championing education, justice and gender parity.

Regardless of continued efforts to improve representation in the field, systemic change is slow and sometimes reluctant. Research shows that about 60% of young people effectively drop out of school with no school-leaving qualifications to their names.

Girl learners seem to have been particularly vulnerable to the catastrophic consequences of the pandemic on education, with national school shutdowns further compounding the existing problems.

To dismantle gender bias in education requires commitment and drive from key decision-makers who are involved in transforming educational policy, something Sonibare advocates for passionately and vocally.

“There is a lack of political will to radically reimagine education so that it is forward-thinking, community-owned and depoliticised.”

This is why Sonibare’s work through Molo Mhlaba is vital. Not only does it facilitate quality education for female learners in areas where they have been historically disenfranchised, but it also introduces them to the growing variety of formidable women pioneers in the field.

The programme provides a safe space for girl learners to grow, thrive and be heard — crucial now more than ever in a country struggling to address the ongoing scourge of gender-based violence (GBV).

The climate of violence against women severely curtails any young woman’s ability to imagine a future where her contributions and achievements are honoured and celebrated. It retards social growth and impedes a woman’s ability to function, succeed and develop, says Sonibare.
“Social punishment and our justice system do not work in harmony to create a culture of intolerance for GBV. We are always going to have this problem if we don’t normalise a culture of non-acceptance,” she adds.

Of South Africa’s tendency to see advocacy against the problem as a “women’s issue”, Sonibare’s stance is decisive: “Women are not responsible for educating and advocating for an end to femicide and GBV. It’s a societal issue and we are all responsible for ending it.”

Francesco Nassimbeni |
Tebello Motshwane

Tebello Motshwane

Sister In Law
Bachelor of laws (LLB)
University of Johannesburg

Tebello Motshwane’s chosen route may not be the most conventional in the eyes of the legal world, but her expertise as an attorney is put to good use helping women to become educated, empowered and equipped in all things pertaining to the law.

Through her business, Sister In Law, Motshwane uses her qualifications to help women.
“I package and simplify legal concepts in an understandable way so that women can make informed decisions about their lives,” she explains.
With this thinking, her goal is for more South African women to become educated about principles of the law and understand how it applies to them. She believes that this will enable women to empower themselves and their families.

Sister In Law was founded in 2018 as a blog and has grown into a successful resource to aid women with legal advice.
“Women are already largely empowered in other fields, so I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and I have not looked back since,” Motshwane says.
She feels that women too often find themselves at a disadvantage when the family unit is divided and that family law support should be accessible to all women. Her aim is to continuously encourage women to take back their power through providing practical and easy-to-consume legal advice.

At the beginning of 2020, she started a podcast called “Sisters In Conversation” in which she profiled women of colour in the legal profession. “I wanted a platform where I could share the challenges and highlights of the under-represented gender and race while creating awareness of the varying areas of practice that exist.”
The podcast has hosted more than 40 women from various backgrounds and has become a tool where “each one teaches one — a passing of the baton to the next generation of women in law”, she says.

Besides being a notable changemaker and mentor within her industry, she has acquired many accolades over the years, including what she deems her proudest moment — being selected as a fellow for the Nelson Mandela Washington Fellowship 2020/2021.
“The fellowship ran for six weeks and I was selected in the business category. I am now officially an alumni of the prestigious fellowship.”

Throughout her many career and personal achievements, she has never stopped her mission to help women ensure that they take control of their legal affairs.

“My vision was and still is to demystify the law and show women that the law exists for their benefit and empowerment. It’s not a tool reserved for a certain class of people.”

The weight of responsibility in a profession of this nature — and the role Motshwane has carved out for herself — is no easy feat. “[I may be] a relatively small role player in the legal profession, but my vision is to keep educating women about their rights purely because, when you know more, you are enabled to make better decisions,” she says.

Given the climate of our flawed legal system and its persistent discrimination against women, Motshwane recognises that this can make women feel despondent or as though the law is against them.
She is driven to continue inspiring women, as the impact of equipping one woman at a time can lead to a ripple effect of change. “Empowering one woman has the potential to empower a family unit and that is what keeps me motivated.”

Alexandra van Nieuwenhuizen |
Feroza Aitken

Feroza Aitken

Founder and director
Thriving Founders
Certified systemic wellness coach

A real corporate chameleon when it comes to finding new avenues to extend a helping hand, Feroza Aitken has dedicated her career and life to supporting others.

Aitken has a number of diverse qualifications under her belt, including business management training from The Tony Elumelu Foundation. She obtained a bookkeepers certification from Damelin in 2010, as well as a systemic wellness coach qualification from Ubuntu Addiction Community Trust.

With experience in a variety of professions — including running a successful beauty salon and working as a banking financial administrator — Aitken put her multiple skills to use to create Thriving Founders, an innovative organisation that assists women entrepreneurs and business leaders beyond financial support.

From emotional and spiritual development to well-being and guidance, Aitken’s organisation focuses on people as individuals and not the conglomerates they work for. She believes a woman is a life-giving force of nature with a multitude of complex layers, which is why unpacking and discussing emotional and mental struggles is so important.

By empowering, equipping and educating women in business, Thriving Founders aims to assist them to realise their full potential. As Aitken has experience in changing career paths, she advocates the notion of knowing one’s values and not being afraid of restarting and rediscovering one’s true career calling.

She says that her proudest achievement was being acknowledged by the British Embassy in November for “highlighting exceptional young people”.

Before moving her focus to empowering businesses and leaders, Aitken assisted and coached a number of substance abusers and addicts who are in recovery. As a certified systemic wellness coach, she believes preconceived assumptions of the human experience need to be challenged and that active listening must take place for healing people.

Aitken is also the founder of Amani, a home and self-care essentials business that is focused on transforming homes into a calming sanctuary.

With the uncertainty that the Covid-19 pandemic brought to the lives of individuals, she advocates for sound mental health as an important foundation to allow us to thrive.

The importance of well-being is discussed in her digital wellness workbook, titled Master Your Emotional & Mental Well-being. From achieving goals to using practical tools to develop an individual’s emotional intelligence, this how-to manual allows readers to take charge of their hindering and negative emotions.

Aitken believes that it is vital for South Africa’s young people to realise their worth and untapped potential so that they understand that they are much more than their circumstances dictate.

She would also love to see the availability of financial literacy in the school curriculum so women can make informed choices early on.

“Women empowerment to me is complete self-acceptance. It’s letting women stand in their truth, heal and grow in ways that are fulfilling to them.”

Louise Bell |
Masindi Netshakhuma

Masindi Netshakhuma

Renof Productions
Bachelor of education (BEd)
University of Limpopo

“Women are the best leaders, if they are given the chance to lead,” is something that Masindi Netshakhuma firmly believes. A brief glance at her multidisciplinary career proves that she embodies this sentiment.

Born in Itsani village outside Thohoyandou, Limpopo, Netshakhuma developed a love of learning and storytelling at an early age. After matriculating in 2015, she enrolled in the University of Limpopo, where she obtained a bachelor of education.

Netshakhuma’s first English poetry book, Vision and Legacy, was published in 2018, and since then, her poetry has amassed an impressive list of accolades.

Her poem “Lushi” placed fourth in the 2019 AVBOB Poetry Competition and she was shortlisted in the National Library of South Africa Young Voices Poetry Slam. In 2020, her poem “Vhufa Hashu” was selected by the French Institute of South Africa and Impepho Press for inclusion in the anthology, History and Imagining Realities.

Netshakhuma’s proudest achievement is the project Woman, My Breed, in which she published stories about gender-based violence (GBV) by young women writers from Limpopo.

“I come from a very deep rural area where GBV is the norm,” she explains. “When a man raises a hand to his woman, it’s called love. Woman, My Breed is a project implemented to raise awareness of gender-based violence and to give women [a voice in] what they are going through, especially those who feel they cannot talk about the issue.”

The fight against GBV is a thread throughout all the work that Netshakhuma does. “If I had the ability to change one thing for South Africa,” she says, “I’d change the narrative and give young women the power to use their voices against gender-based violence.”

The fact that women still are unable to talk about this issue “because they are not given enough legal protection to speak up when they are being abused, [shows that] it is very important to have such freedom in our country”.

In 2021, Netshakhuma donned yet another title — that of CEO — when she founded her own publishing company, Renof Productions, with the aim to promote literature in the arts and culture industry and to create job opportunities for more up-and-coming talented writers.

Renof Productions was one of the 2021 winners in the Kenya-South Africa Chamber of Business SME competition and was awarded the opportunity to exhibit work to presidents Cyril Ramaphosa and Uhuru Kenyatta.

“I grew up being told my dreams were invalid for a black girl from the villages,” Netshakhuma recalls. But as a testament to her tenacity, these words merely fuelled her fire to succeed and to help others succeed alongside her.

“I never stopped dreaming, nor did I stop pushing those locked doors to be a published author. That’s what motivated me to start a publishing company that has a special focus on women and GBV awareness. The fact that women are still treated inferiorly to men is the reason I push so hard to help women publish their stories.”

Madeleine Bazil |
Farai Mubaiwa

Farai Mubaiwa

Chief partnerships officer
Youth Employment Service (YES)
MSc in the political economy of emerging markets, final grade: distinction; BComm Hons with honours in commerce management accounting; bachelor of accounting
King’s College London (MSc), University of Stellenbosch

Farai Mubaiwa embodies the idea of leadership through action. She is passionate about building a better South Africa, acknowledging the youth as a crucial foundation in achieving this outcome.

Mubaiwa has dedicated herself to empowering young people through her involvement in several projects geared towards youth development, with a focus on tackling the unemployment crisis in the country.

At 27 years old, Mubaiwa has already accomplished a great deal — from obtaining her master of science degree in the political economy of emerging markets with distinction from the University of London to managing projects at The Aurum Institute, a leading African TB and HIV research and implementation organisation.

One of her main projects, Youth Health Africa, focused on limiting the spread of HIV and reducing the high levels of youth unemployment through education and skills development programmes.

In 2015, Mubaiwa founded the Africa Matters Initiative after witnessing the disparity between the public’s solidarity with France after the Charlie Hebdo attack, as well as the lack of support after the terror attack in Baga, Nigeria, a few days later.

Her goal is to change the African narrative by upskilling and educating young Africans to play their part in bettering their societies. “Young people are capable of leading. We are not the leaders of tomorrow. We are the leaders of today,” she says.

Mubaiwa is the youngest executive at Youth Employment Service (YES), a non-profit organisation that works with government and labour entities to create policies that promote job creation for young people in South Africa. As the chief partnerships officer, she works on strengthening relationships with key partners in civil society, government, youth development agencies and other collaborative stakeholders.

During her time at YES, she has taken on several strategic and operational teams, developing her teammates and sparking innovations and processes to better the organisation. She has also ensured that YES is actively involved with the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention.

Mubaiwa believes that addressing the unemployment crisis in South Africa requires collaboration and structural changes, especially in education, beginning at the grassroots level.

She has taken up positions that make her an active collaborator in bringing about change, for example, attending a president-convened meeting of key stakeholders to discuss how to combat South Africa’s unemployment crisis and create opportunities for our unemployed youth at scale.

“We need to look at how we massify employment opportunities for unemployed youth, particularly for young black women, who are often excluded from the formal economy,” she says.

Despite the challenges she has faced in her career, she remains driven. Her advice to young black women is to believe in themselves.

“We need to know our worth, recognise our value and step into our power. We are powerful!”

Robert Sam-Kputu |
Kealeboga Mokomane

Kealeboga Mokomane

Communications manager (Africa)
The ONE Campaign
BA corporate communications and BA (Hons) strategic communications
University of Johannesburg

As the first person in her family and the only child on her street to finish grade 12 and attend university, Kealeboga Mokomane knows first-hand the difference education can make. This, along with a passion for youth development and women empowerment, set her on a path towards finding ways to uplift young South Africans.

“If I could change one thing in South Africa, it would be that every young person receives the best education and career opportunities despite their location, background or financial standing,” she says.

Driven by a desire to be a catalyst for change, Mokomane has founded two community upliftment initiatives in Gauteng, helping more than 3 000 girls, boys and women in the process. Her projects have garnered her recognition as one of the Junior Chamber International’s Top Outstanding Young Persons in South Africa in 2017, where she received the Humanitarian and Voluntary Leadership award.

Founded in 2011, her first initiative, Fab Glam, was in operation for six years. During this time, she facilitated the support, development and growth of women of excellence through mentorship programmes, personal mastery seminars, high teas and “dignity days”.

Dignity days, Mokomane explains, provide a safe space for girls to openly discuss issues affecting them. These events tackled topics such as puberty, feminine hygiene and menstrual management, and included activities like vision board building, career mapping and basic psychometric testing to help determine their strengths and weaknesses.

Her second initiative, GenZet, which she founded in 2019, follows a similar framework — she hosts dignity days, career days and other education-focused events centred on uplifting young people in various communities.

“From the dignity days that we have hosted to date, we have seen young girls rise up and become leaders, not just in their schools but in their respective communities too,” she says.

Over the next five years, Mokomane plans to extend GenZet’s reach into other provinces, because, as she puts it, “people are always looking for opportunities to learn and advance themselves”.

Working as a communications manager for the ONE Campaign, an international non-profit organisation that seeks to end poverty and preventable diseases, is another way in which she is contributing to making a difference on an even greater scale.

“Working at ONE has opened my eyes to the issues we are facing as a continent,” she says. “I hope that through my work at ONE, I get to make an impact that contributes to alleviating extreme poverty.”

When not working or running her initiatives, Mokomane gives talks in schools — a project which began when she worked for the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation’s Kagiso Shanduka Trust. Her motivation?

“I love talking to young people and being one of the catalysts that opens up their thinking and challenges them to dream bigger,”

she says..

“I truly believe that real and lasting change will be driven by a new generation of young people who are well educated and who have the tools to find solutions to the challenges facing Africa today. The youth of the continent have so much potential to be great — we just need to be given equal access to opportunities.”

Jessica Littlewood |
Sam Gqomo

Sam Gqomo

Founding director
WoMandla Foundation
Bachelor of technology in public relations management
Nelson Mandela University

Sam Gqomo is passionate about empowering women in Africa to reach their potential, which is why, in 2012, she founded the WoMandla Foundation. WoMandla, a combination of “women” and “amandla” (meaning power or strength in isiXhosa and isiZulu), aims to inform, empower and equip women and girls by building sustainable communities.

In roughly a decade, the WoMandla Foundation has made significant strides. The organisation, made up of a team of executive committee members who are committed to educating, equipping and empowering African women, is centred on the spheres of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, as well as mentorship and entrepreneurship.

Alongside key partnerships, the foundation has awarded 20 African women bursaries to MANCOSA, an education provider in Cape Town. It has held career expos at two schools in Langa, Cape Town, which exposed more than 3 000 learners to the possibilities of further study.

Gqomo, who is known for her go-getter attitude, strong work ethic and enthusiasm for any task set in front of her, was among the participants in the first Academy of Women Entrepreneurs course in South Africa, an initiative funded by the United States.

In 2019, she was commended as a #CTHero by the Cape Town government for WoMandla Foundation’s role in women empowerment in the face of gender-based violence (GBV) and, as a result of her experience and advocacy, she has been invited to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, as well as the World Youth Forum in Egypt.

This year, she represented South Africa in the Youth Giving Summit — an international youth grant-making programme that supports independence and fosters leadership development — that focused on catalysing the impact of global youth.

Gqomo has learnt important lessons in the workplace. Having experienced burnout one too many times, she knows that no one can pour from an empty cup.

So, every day, she shows up as her truest self. This means making tough decisions and having uncomfortable conversations, as well as being honest with herself. Time and space to learn and live passionately is important: “If I want to go the distance and build world-changing organisations, I cannot sacrifice myself.”

Gqomo has big dreams for WoMandla’s role in the future. One of her chief goals is to end GBV, a widespread and entrenched problem in Africa that deeply affects the psychology, dreams and futures of women across the continent.

“Our goal as an organisation is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5, which is to achieve gender equality and empower 100 000 women and girls by 2030,”

says Gqomo.

With the right opportunities, she is committed to empowering women in South Africa in every way possible. “If I could change anything, it would be the mind-set of our society and the gendered power inequalities rooted in patriarchy that keep us back as a country.”

Gqomo knows that with resources, education and opportunities, every woman can rise up and reach their potential.

Laura du Toit |
Thato Mphuthi

Thato Mphuthi

Founding director
Enabled Enlightenment
Management NQF Level 4
Central Johannesburg TVET College

After losing the use of both her legs at the age of eight, Thato Mphuthi endured years of bullying and discrimination. Through her non-profit organisation, Enabled Enlightenment, she is making it her life’s work to help uplift disabled young people and educate society about disabilities.

“One day I woke up and was limping,” she says. “If more people realise how easily this could happen to them, I think it would do a lot to eliminate stigma.”

Mphuthi’s time in school was difficult, not only because of the physical barriers but also because some learners would taunt her and steal her walking aids. After multiple suicide attempts, she hit a turning point when she discovered poetry in high school: “It helped me express what I could not say.”

Through publicly sharing her poems, Mphuthi built her confidence, enhanced her public speaking skills and succeeded in making her peers and teachers aware of the great difficulties that she was facing each day.

At college she found herself in spaces where issues such as HIV, sexual health and gender-based violence were being tackled. She noted that disabled people were rarely considered in these discussions, prompting her to start Enabled Enlightenment.

Enabled Enlightenment’s main goal is to create a sense of belonging and confidence among the young and disabled population. “It’s tiring navigating this ableist society,” she notes. “So we hold space for one another.”

The NPO was created to focus on disability empowerment and justice, as well as Mphuthi’s other passion: reproductive health.

“I want to create spaces for other young people with disabilities to meet people like them, have conversations and feel normal,” she says.

Since launching Enabled Enlightenment, Mphuthi has used her love of public speaking to educate communities about what it means to be disabled in South Africa, the barriers disabled people face and how to meaningfully include disabled people in society.

The NPO posts webinars, provides sensitivity training for companies, and holds drives to gather supplies for underprivileged disabled people.

She has received a South African Heroes Award for her work in community development and has also been nominated for a Woman of Stature Award and for the JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons programme. This year, Enabled Enlightenment has been nominated for a South African Heroes Award in the Specialised Care category.

Mphuthi also collaborates with other organisations to educate groups, including clinicians and social workers, on the intersection between disability and sexuality.

“Professionals need to know how to cater to young disabled people and understand that we are diverse,” she says.

Through her work, Mphuthi hopes to reduce the stigma around disability, include disabled people in important conversations and one day be able to influence policy.

“We exist and we matter,” she says. “We don’t want to be othered anymore — we want to be treated with integrity.”

Andie Reeves |
Faith Mangope

Faith Mangope

Founder and managing director
The Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute
International relations and industrial psychology major
The University of the Witwatersrand and the University of SA (Unisa)

Faith Mangope was studying at the University of Texas in Austin when she received a call from the White House asking her to write and recite a speech about the development of the African continent. She was told that the president at the time, Barack Obama, had specifically asked for her. She was just 26 years old and didn’t have the qualifications many of the other candidates had.

This catalysed a chain of events that resulted in her founding the Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute, a school that teaches South African women the skills required to find work in a fast-paced world governed by the internet and ever-evolving technology.

“That moment was specifically orchestrated so that I could deliver a certain message about where we are as a continent and where we have potential to be,” she recounts.

It was later, during a talk that she was giving to a group of matrics, that Mangope was struck with the realisation that for South Africa to reach its full potential, she needed to change the face of education. The schooling system needed to grow from a place of constant catch-up to one of intentionality, where children learn skills that fit the requirements of the 21st-century workplace.

Mangope realised the need for an amendment to the curriculum. In order to find gainful employment that benefits both a community and an individual, it is important to know how to think logically and systematically, but also critically, she says.

One needs to know how to solve puzzles within a limited timeframe, and have confidence in one’s ideas and solutions. Mangope’s institute teaches exciting new developments in the world of technology, while also preparing girls and women for collaboration and leadership.

Mangope believes that this is her formula for success: Adaptability = IQ (intelligence) + EQ (empathy) + CQ (creativity) + SQ (spirituality). To adapt and thrive in any chosen workplace, one needs to have a balance of each quotient, she says.

Intelligence is built from a practice of problem-solving, assessment and the ability to analyse and draw conclusions. Emotional literacy is crucial in understanding cultural norms, communication and collaboration. Keeping in touch with one’s creativity breeds innovation and growth, while spirituality nurtures the connection we have with ourselves and our communities.

Mangope believes that an understanding of the self is crucial for success.

“Content is great, but it doesn’t make you an asset. For that, you need agency. It is this self-actualisation, the understanding of who you are in a community, that allows you to be a valuable team member within a diverse space.”

When asked what advice she would give to a woman trying to find her place in the working world, her response is: “Seek your passion. Find what moves you. Look inward before looking outward. Do research and travel. Get exposure and an understanding of the wider world.”

With each year that passes, the Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute is irrevocably improving the lives of more and more South African girls, helping to create a nation of formidable women.

Jennifer Worthington-Smith |