WEConnect International in South Africa identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women's business enterprises that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women. WEConnect International is the only non-profit organisation in South Africa that provides the seal of certification uniquely to Women Business Enterprises (WBEs), and also, that connects these WBEs with multi-national corporate purchasing organizations across diverse industries. Our signature seal of certification is a formal guarantee to corporations that they are purchasing goods and/or services from South African businesses that meet universal standards for WBEs. Find out more.
News & Events
Save the Date: WEConnect International in South Africa Annual Conference, April 8, 2016 in Sandton, Johannesburg
The annual conference will be celebrating and encouraging women in business through talks, presentations and informative workshops. Throughout the day, there will also be unique opportunities to network and connect with amazing women-owned businesses as well as representatives from WEConnect International’s corporate members including conference sponsors ExxonMobil, Accenture, Intel, Cummins, Protea Hotels, Merck and many more.
The aim of the conference is to provide a platform for the certified Women Business Enterprises (WBEs), new and old, to connect with the supporting Corporate Members, as well as for self-registered WBEs to connect with certified WBEs and Corporate Members to the end that they may understand the benefits of WEConnect International certification and begin to steer their businesses in that direction.
Come and learn about WEConnect International, what it offers and what kind of benefits and opportunities it holds for women owned businesses while hearing inspiring messages from highly sought after speakers on business, the economy, business opportunities and much more. We aim to create a day of fun, information, opportunities and networking.
Check back soon for more information.
Apply for VV GROW Fellowship by January 31, 2016
Are you a woman business owner from Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa or sub-Saharan Africa that is looking to grow her business? Vital Voices Global Partnership is currently accepting applications for 2016-2017 VV GROW Fellowship, a highly competitive one-year accelerator program for women owners of small and medium sized business. Learn more about the fellowship and how to apply here: http://www.vitalvoices.org/what-we-do/issues/economic-empowerment/apply-vv-grow-fellowship!
Intel Hosts Women Business Owners for Special Networking Event
(5 November 2015) WEConnect International in South Africa was hosted by Intel for a Women Business Owners Networking and Connect Session in Johannesburg this October. Nearly 50 women business owners attended to get an update on WEConnect International in South Africa following the appointment of Jean Chawapiwa as Executive Director in August 2015.
The session included presentations from WEConnect International corporate members Cummins, Accenture and Intel as key corporate supporters of WEConnect International in South Africa and members of the Advisory Council. Inputs was also received from supporting women empowerment organisations Utho Business Accelerator, Women’s Presidents Organisation (WPO) and USA based Vita Global.
The connect session included all women present being given the opportunity to introduce themselves and talk about their business in order to encourage linkages, business and partnerships amongst the business owners. The benefits of Certification were discussed in detail with corporates adding their voice to their eagerness to work with women business owners. Namely, WEConnect International certification is important them as they don’t have time to identify, register and certify businesses.
A similar event was held in Cape Town on the 23 October, where Jean shared the information from the Johannesburg session and encouraged the established women-owned businesses in attendance to begin the certification process.
CCTV: WEConnect International in South Africa
Equipping Women to Succeed in Global Markets
(Feb. 25, 2015) CCTV recently interviewed Dr. Nathalie Chinje to discuss the often overlooked key to economic development - women. Through WEConnect International, Dr. Chinje helps women-owned businesses in South Africa succeed in global value chains and connects them with multinational corporate buyers.
"I work with a lot of women-owned enterprises in South Africa and across the African continent, and my vision for those women is to ensure that they are successful and that they have access to business opportunities within the corporate sector," said Dr. Chinje.
One example of how Weconnect International has helped women entrepreneurs is Dorothy Botsi, founder and director of Botho Ubuntu Cleaning, a 100 percent black woman-owned enterprise. Today Botsi employs over 500 women across South Africa, and ensures they have a better future. For her, having a business that employs mainly women is extremely important, and she feels that WeConnect International helps emphasize that importance.
WEConnect International in South Africa hosts roundtable discussion on Corporate Supplier Diversity Programmes
(Johannesburg – Feb. 23, 2015) Amidst a hive of activities in the first quarter of 2015, WEConnect International in South Africa hosted a roundtable discussion under the theme “Corporate Supplier Diversity Programmes: Revised BBBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) Code & Gender Mainstreaming.” This event took place on February 17, 2015 from 08h30 to 12h30 at the Fire & Ice Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The roundtable discussion took into account important amendments which have been proposed to the BBBEE Act and are currently before Parliament. Significant changes to the existing Codes were published in the Government Gazette on October 11, 2013 and will take effect starting May 1, 2015. The primary purpose of the BBBEE Act and the Codes is to address the legacy of racist apartheid policies and enhance the economic participation of Black people in the South African economy. These new codes will have an impact on the strategies that businesses need to implement.
A New Advisory Council member for WEConnect International in South Africa
In January 2015, WEConnect International in South Africa welcomed Andrew Michael Warrington Towns as an additional member to its Advisory Council
Towns works with the Global Procurement Teams of Marriott International, and thus began the partnership with WEConnect International to enable both parties to benefit from the extensive relationships Marriott International has around the world celebrating diversity and inclusion.
Andrew Michael Warrington Towns - Protea Hotels Group Procurement Manager
A 17 year hospitality veteran overseeing the procurement spend for the largest hotel group in Africa.
Successfully implemented the Protea Hotels e-procurement system, which is recognized as one of the leading e-procurement models in the hospitality industry in South Africa.
Works with the Global Procurement Teams of Marriott International, upon the acquisition of Protea by Marriott.
Procurement Training Programme with Cummins Inc
On October 2, 2014, WEConnect International in South Africa and one of its corporate members, Cummins Inc SA, co-hosted a procurement training programme at Cummins Inc South Africa’s offices in Sandton, Johannesburg.
The programme was conducted by a panel of distinguished women business leaders from Cummins Inc and WEConnect International in South Africa, respectively. The panelists included Ms. Susan Quist, Director & Corporate Counsel, Legal, and Corporate Affairs, who presented an insightful overview of Cummins Inc Africa; and Dr. Nathalie Chinje. Dr. Chinje led an interactive discussion of WEConnect International in South Africa bringing out a distinct message on the importance of women business owners in the economy. This message created a sense of camaraderie among the women. Present as well, was Ms. Jolene Classen, Sourcing Manager of Indirect Purchasing Africa at Cummins Inc.
Negotiation Skills Programme with Accenture
On September 30, 2014, Accenture and WEConnect International in South Africa welcomed close to 30 women business owners at Accenture offices in Johannesburg to participate in a Negotiation Skills Programme. The aim of the training programme was to address the hurdles that women business owners face when trying to negotiate their business objectives in a working environment, and to help them find acceptable solutions to these challenges.
The women business owners thoroughly enjoyed the event and had very positive feedback to share. Ms. Stephina Lekgale, owner of Lakgale Mahlako Trading, believes that the workshop was highly informative. “It gave me a clear understanding of how to go about negotiating business”, she said. Kim Vermaak, Director of Beautiful Corporate Gifts said “I learnt a lot that I could share with friends and customers who are in female owned businesses”.
From Minority Business Entrepreneur Magazine (www.mbemag.com )
"WEConnect International in South Africa: Offering WOBs Access to Local and Global Markets," by Dr. Nathalie Chinje, September 2014
August is an important month for South African women. It is on August 9, 1956 that 20,000 South Afri- can women of all races marched to the Union Building in Pretoria to protest against the injustices of the Apartheid regime.This regime suppressed the rights of South African women to pursue careers, thereby supporting the belief that women in South Africa should only spend their time in the kitchen. They also publicly voiced their opinions against the pass laws that required “black” South Africans to carry a ‘”pass,” an internal passport that severely restricted their movement...
A New Advisory Council for WEConnect International South Africa
In January 2014, WEConnect International established its advisory council in South Africa, comprised of procurement heads from corporate members Intel, Exxon Mobil, Accenture and Cummins. Council members have experience varying from women empowerment programs aimed at fast-tracking their economic participation, to global supplier inclusion and diversity initiatives.
The advisory council offers insight and expertise to WEConnect International South Africa. Specifically it focuses on governance and oversight of yearly activities of WEConnect International South Africa, including training programs, certification, and building and strengthening our local corporate membership base. These activities support our vision of providing women-owned businesses with access to local and global market opportunities.
Deaneesha Govender - Commodity Purchasing Manager for Intel South Africa; Chairperson, WEConnect International South Africa Advisory Council
Formerly a member of the EMEA Diversity team, driving Women at Intel initiatives specific to Intern and RCG Programs.
Currently a Commodity Purchasing Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Qualified and majored in International Business Communication and Business English.
Zakithi Zama - Public Government Affairs Manager for ExxonMobil Exploration & Production South Africa Limited (EMEPSAL)
Holds a Master of Business Leadership (MBL) from UNISA’s Graduate School of Business Leadership.
Vast expertise in Public Affairs, having held similar positions in the Petrochemical Industry for over 10 years.
Wealth of experience having worked with women empowerment programs aimed at fast-tracking their economic participation.
Jolene Catherine Classen - Sourcing Manager for Cummins Inc.Africa
Has 19 year’s procurement experience across a full spectrum of industries including FMCG, Mining, Telecommunication and Automotive Industries.
Category Manager at Rio Tinto Management Services prior to joining Cummins.
A certification member of the South African Diversity Council and also a certified member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply.
Linda Basson - Head of Procurement for Accenture South Africa
Head of Procurement for Accenture in South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana.
Coordinates procurement category management activities across EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region for the Facilities and Services Spend Category.
Contributes to global supplier inclusion and diversity initiatives using her experience gained in leading a number of BBBEE initiatives in South Africa.
The Launch of WEConnect International in South Africa
WEConnect International Launches in South Africa | October 29, 2013
Check out all the pictures from the event here!
Executive Director, WEConnect International in South Africa
Funders and Partners