Powerful professionals put the positive in business
AHEAD of National Women’s Day, we profile four women trying to bring about positive change in their professions and circles of influence. around the time when we were taught about Jan van Riebeek and that he discovered the Cape. But my grandmother had taught me that we were here long before, so now how can a person discover another person?”
Khoza has more than two decades in the public sector.
In 1998, her husband died and having to deal with politics while raising two young kids on her own, she opted to bow out of public service and join the corporate world. The 48-year-old mother of two returned to politics in 2004 and is now a member of Parliament and making headlines for being a strong, outspoken and honourable woman.
The company is 100% black- and woman-owned and operates in the Cape Flats.
Bomela has been in the solid waste management business since 1997. But, because she had little to no experience and the industry was previously dominated by “white males” she had to be trained along with other people and form a joint venture.
“At the time, our communities were not regularly cleaned, and white companies did not care much to come into our areas and when the opportunities opened up we jumped for them. The requirements were Standard 6 and a Code 8 driver’s licence and I had those,” she said.
She was grouped with eight others and trained to become entrepreneurs in waste management.
Her husband at the time worked as a court translator but was not earning much.
“We lived in a small shack in Site B and I worked as a domestic worker in Somerset and later got a job as a cashier at a retail store,” she said.
Now, Bomela is a proud owner of a waste management company with 11 compactor trucks and 55 employees.
She also owns a security company which employs 400 men and women. Though she is one of the very few women in both security and waste management, Bomela said she feels she has not yet “done enough”. Having been raised in exile by political activists, 32-year-old Pandor experienced racism at school and her neighbourhood following her family’s return in 1990.
Her experience at the time made her question the “randomness of one race being thought to be above another, whilst also strengthening my character”.
Being the greatgranddaughter of the struggle hero ZK Matthews, who helped draw up the Freedom Charter, Pandor was only 10 “when the 9th of August was pronounced Women’s Day and South Africa had celebrated our first free and fair democratic elections the year prior”.
“I remember the day as a continuation of a feeling of celebration, of our freedom, of women. I distinctly remember the phrase ‘you strike a woman, you strike a rock’ and feeling very empowered by it.
“At the time, it was also a positive feeling around the ANC specifically and the progress the party was making in the country.”
Now, she works in technology, where “women are drastically under-represented”.
With her company, SweepSouth, Pandor has created over 3 500 jobs for women with 60% made up of young people. Growing up without a woman mentor in a male-dominated business world, Anina Malherbe said she has enjoyed turning her misfortune into other women’s stepping stone.
“In the last five years that it dawned on me how much I was enjoying mentoring and growing these young women, I realised how gratifying it is to have a positive impact on a young woman’s career. I didn’t have that when I was young,” she said.
Malherbe has been in the business of strategic luxury communications for over 10 years and believes she has empowered her staff to “manage their career with tenacity and grace, without having to stand back for any man”.
Raised by a housewife, the youngest of three and the only girl, Malherbe grew up a tomboy. She broke all the family rules and expectations that were set for her as a little girl. She vowed she would never be a housewife and set her sights on branding, fashion and luxury.
She said she hads taken a leaf out of the books of a number of strong women in her life: her late mother who taught her “resilience and the art of perfectionism” and her grandmother “for her grace and good genes.”
She will spend Women’s Day being pampered by her husband. The rest of Women’s Month, she will try to make an impact in the lives of younger women – to give them the support that she didn’t have when she was their age.