In­flu­en­tial work

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.

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