Engelbrecht recognised for supporting businesswomen
HOWICK businesswoman Ali Engelbrecht has been recognised as one of Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government (MIW) by CEO Global and the Pan African recognition programme.
She counts among her accomplishments the founding of the Women in Business (WIB) organisation, which was subsequently aligned with the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, and she is the Vice Principal Academic for the IIE’s Varsity College campus in Pietermaritzburg.
She was announced as Country Winner and Regional Winner SADC Southern Region in the Small, Medium and Large Enterprises (SME) Sector.
As a SADC regional winner, she becomes a finalist for the continental awards to be held at the end of the month, in Johannesburg.
Almost 4 000 nominations were received from the business community and individuals from 23 sectors on the continent, a statement said.
She told The Witness that after being a winner in one category in 2014, she did not expect to ever be nominated again.
The WIB organisation has supported businesswomen for 13 years.
In 2016, Engelbrecht was offered the chance to be a “mentee” with the international Cherie Blair Foundation (CBF) Mentoring Women in Business Programme, and she continued as a mentor.
As a result, she developed a plan on how to implement a similar, yet non-formalised, concept for our rural entrepreneurial women.
Business support is not equitably accessible to all women — Ali saw the gap
and took it. Because of this online support programme, she has interacted with over 280 businesswomen worldwide, via technology.
“I asked ‘why me?’, as I don’t directly generate income/revenue or employment? Everything I do is voluntary and is difficult to measure the successes,” she said.
Annelize Wepener, Chief Executive of CEO Global, had notified Engelbrecht via e-mail of the awards, with the words: “Alison, you have been acknowledged for the work you have committed your life to, it is a remarkable achievement.
Engelbrecht describes herself as “a farm girl with a laptop, cell phone and a passion for encouraging entrepreneurial women”.
“If I can help someone else make their life a success, or run their business more profitably, it’s worth my time,” she said.
“Building confidence and enabling women to succeed, in any way, is rewarding and humbling. You cannot put a value on that.”
She said 90% of the mostly rural women she mentors are either unemployed or employed, but keen to leave work to start their own businesses.
She said probably the most common problem she encounters is these women don’t know the costs and onerous administrative burdens involved in starting their own company, and they don’t have established networks.
The remainder are women already in business but are struggling to expand, or are diversifying too much in the weak economy, which is destroying their businesses.
Perhaps one percent of the women she mentors are in management of corporate leadership positions, and simply want a sounding board to help sort their problems in the business.
“Many of these women are single moms. They have very little in the way of support structures out there,” she said.
When Ali is not mentoring and supporting entrepreneurial women, she can be found out and about with her walking shoes, completing half marathons and trail walks supported by her beloved #LadyMavis Discovery Land Rover.
Alison Engelbrecht, recognised as one of Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government, says you cannot put a value on helping women build confidence and succeed in business.