Empowerment well beyond the boardroom
WIPHOLD’s investment into the development of women extends well beyond the boardroom says chief financial officer, Nontobeko Ndhlazi.
Although established to enhance economic empowerment for black women, it has also prioritised initiatives in education and sport to help future generations reach their goals. This was driven by the wisdom expressed by former President Nelson Mandela when he said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
WIPHOLD established the Women Development Trust Fund in 2004 to assist black girls and boys from disadvantaged schools with a tertiary qualification. The bursary, which covers the student’s tuition fees, text books, accommodation and a monthly stipend, is open to young South Africans studying B Com Accounting, Chartered Accounting, Actuarial Sciences or Engineering. Students are selected mainly on the basis of their academic achievement but consideration is also given to how they participated in their school community.
“The focus is on nurturing scarce skills in the fields of accounting, actuarial sciences and engineering,” Ndhlazi adds.
To date 112 bursaries have been awarded to needy and deserving students.
As further evidence of its commitment to improving education, WIPHOLD hosts regular career awareness workshops at high schools around the country, targeting mainly rural ones. Pupils are exposed to different career options as various professionals are brought in to engage with them.
WIPHOLD is especially focused on introducing learners to careers within the science and technology fields, which have traditionally been beyond the reach of many black learners.
“Our intention is to engage and mentor the learners, emphasising the importance of education, discipline and drive to succeed,” she adds. “We want them to know that if they are committed to learning they can become whatever they want to be.”
WIPHOLD, she says, is also a proud sponsor of the NGO Campaign For Girls, a nationwide holistic development initiative aimed at learners in grades 11 and 12 from rural, township and urban areas. Launched during 2010, the campaign programmes focus on self-development, career development and community involvement. More than 200 girls have been assisted so far.
In addition to education, WIPHOLD also believes in the importance of sport in the development of young people.
One of its proudest endorsements to date is its ongoing sponsorship of South African icon and athletics star Mokgadi Caster Semenya since October 2010. In turn, the world champion and Olympic Gold and Silver medallist is an official brand ambassador for WIPHOLD.
Chief executive Louisa Mojela says, “We always wanted Caster to concentrate on her talent and not be overwhelmed by the attention. Our endorsement is an opportunity for her to keep her feet on the ground and use them to do what she does best.”
This year WIPHOLD also turned its attention to women’s tennis and particularly the development of potential professionals. The company’s partnership with Tennis South Africa (TSA) provides financial assistance to high performance women’s tennis and covers three new initiatives:
A travelling squad of six to eight female players in the under 16 age group, who will play selected Junior International Tennis Federation events in Africa.
An annual Next Gen camp and tournament for up to 32 of the country’s emerging young female players.
A high-performance squad of eight to 10 female players, which will act as a feeder squad to the South African Fed Cup team.
SA Fed Cup Captain, Rene Plant say the sponsorship will go some way to enhancing tennis development: “We are on a mission to revive women’s tennis in South Africa and WIPHOLD’s involvement, on the back of our recent Fed Cup promotion, is another exciting development in this space. We are grateful for their support and hope it is the start of a long relationship.”
Mojela, a passionate tennis fan and an official patron for women’s tennis in South Africa, says, “We’ve got the next generation in this country that’s very talented. It would be great if we could give them a little push to achieve what they want. So much money is pumped into other sports, but so little is put into tennis.”
The maiden WIPHOLD “Next Gen” training camp and tournament was recently completed at the Bryanston Sports Club in Johannesburg. The four-day intensive training camp and tournament brought together 24 of South Africa’s leading female tennis players including national Fed Cup players, Ilze Hattingh, Minette Van Vreden and Lulu Ntuli. There were also a number of US based College players as well as several emerging junior players.
South African icon and athletics star Mokgadi Caster Semenya is an official brand ambassador for WIPHOLD which has sponsored her since 2010
A school workshop