Businesswomen of the Year Award

Nominations in for the Businesswoman of the Year Award

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With a closing entry date of May 6, it’s again time for South Africans to put their thinking caps on and consider worthy nominees for the highly prestigious Businesswoman of the Year Award which annually recognises the country’s top businesswomen achievers, motivators and role models who are helping to build the nation and ensure that women take their rightful place in the economy. If she is building a new workforce, contributing to the GDP and significantly building South Africa’s economy, she must be nominated!

Now in its 34th year, the Businesswoman of the Year Award features two categories – corporate and entrepreneurial – and is one of the most prized awards in the South African annual business calendar. The two winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Johannesburg on August 22.

Initiated in 1980, the award has become an important fixture and a highly visible means of recognising the growing contribution that women are making to advancing both corporate and entrepreneurial organisations. Indicating the award night’s stature, last year’s keynote speaker was none other than President Jacob Zuma.

Well-known previous winners of the award who have had highly impactful careers include: Maria Ramos, Absa’s CEO; Jane Raphaely, publisher extraordinary; the late Maria Maponya of the Maponya Group; Futhi Mtoba, chairperson of accounting firm Deloittes; and Nicky Newton-King, CEO of the JSE Ltd.

“If you work with or know a woman who is an inspiring role model and is making a big difference in an organisation, put her name forward to be considered by our judges,” said Kunyalala Maphisa, president of the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa, which stages the annual award event.

“This is a great opportunity to recognise the contribution that women are making in the business arena. We are hoping for a really strong range of entries this year from various industry sectors and from across the country.”

All nominees must be South African residents or citizens, with their business interests in South Africa. In the corporate sector, nominees need to control an annual budget of at least R75 million, while in the entrepreneurial sector, the budget must be at least R35 million, with the nominee owning at least 25% of the business. In both categories, the nominee needs to have been with their organisation for at least three years.

Last year’s corporate sector winner was Dawn Rowlands, CEO of Aegis Media, while the entrepreneurial sector winner was Margaret Hirsch, Chief Operating Executive at Hirschs.

Importantly, funds raised through the gala dinner on August 22 will go towards the BWA’s bursary fund that has distributed more than R500, 000 towards deserving recipients‘ post graduate studies in recent years. Individuals or organisations wanting to make a contribution to the BWA’s bursary fund can also make donations to this worthwhile and valuable cause, the proceeds of which are spread amongst the BWA’s eleven regions.

In addition to the Businesswoman of the Year Awards, the BWA also holds annual Regional Business Achiever Awards to recognise the achievement of women at a local and regional level. These are totally separate awards.

  • Entries for this year’s Businesswoman of the Year Award close on May 6. Further information can be accessed from or by calling 011 486 3301


As the voice of women in business, The Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) is the largest and most prominent association of business and professional women in the country. It plays a key role in highlighting the current status of women in leadership and acts as a lobby group that advocates on women’s business issues in an effort to transform the economy.

The non-profit, voluntary association works through strategic partnerships that include sponsors, non-profit organisations, leading companies, government departments, business schools and international associations for the interests of its members. Members include entrepreneurs, corporates, professionals and senior decision makers.

The BWA provides a valuable platform for the inspiration and empowerment of women in business through a variety of initiatives and opportunities for personal growth and development. Apart from creating networking opportunities for its members, it makes a strong contribution towards developing the next generation of women business leaders.

Significantly, the BWA has presented the Businesswoman of the Year Award since 1980 and also runs regional achiever awards to recognize the achievements of women in business. These awards actively seek to identify, acknowledge and cultivate entrepreneurs, corporate and professional women leaders in the various regions.

The BWA also coordinates the South African Women in Leadership Census and operates a bursary fund to assist businesswomen to further their tertiary education. BWA bursaries are awarded across the country to students enrolled in post-graduate universities or technikons.

Other initiatives include programs for entrepreneurs such as the BWA VALUE Chain Development for Women in Enterprise program, the WIRED program (Women in Responsible Enterprise Development) which is an access to finance program, a mentorship program, and skills development routes to markets initiative while also providing access to finance.

Our corporate programs include a mentorship program, courses with Duke Corporate Education, Career Development & Advice, and Business Women of Tomorrow which focuses on developing young as leaders of tomorrow.

Tracing its origins back to the Executive Women’s Club in 1979, the BWA in its current form was launched in 2000 through the amalgamation of the Executive Women’s Club, the National Association of Women Business Owners and the Professional Women’s Leadership Development Organisation.

The BWA has 11 branches around the country with its head office in Johannesburg. Branches include Johannesburg, Soweto, Zululand, Tshwane, Free State/ Lesotho, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Polokwane, Queenstown. Branches provide local and national forums where members can exchange ideas, become informed about topical issues and create business opportunities

The BWA has a membership association of the African Businesswomen’s Network.  

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Issue 29


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