(7 December 2016) Celebrating the successes of 2016 and looking forward to the opportunities in 2017, was the theme of the year-end event held by WEConnect International in South Africa on 2 December 2016. Hosted at WEConnect International corporate member EY in Johannesburg, the breakfast was attended by a group of over 50, including 22 representatives of women’s business enterprises and their invited guests, and corporate representatives: Hank van Rensburg of ABSA, Linda Basson, Mpumi Magagula, and Grace Seema of Accenture, Jacoba Schutte of EY, Nadine Schlebusch of Ingersoll Rand, Jacob Pretorius of Johnson & Johnson, and Lynn Turnbull and Marli Cilliers of Sodexo, as well as Miranda Isaakidis of corporate partner, Women Presidents’ Organization.
Welcoming guests, EY’s Jacoba Schutte, Chair of the WEConnect International in South Africa Advisory Council, said, “It is an honour to welcome each of you to EY and to this event. To those of you who are now part of the WEConnect International network – thank you and congratulations! We are ending this year strongly…. [Next year] In addition to our flagship event, we will be committing to having four matchmaking events with certified women’s business enterprises. This will put buyers from corporates in the room with women business owners so they continue to build relations and understand each other’s businesses.”
Pitches by the women’s business enterprises highlighted growing evidence of corporate procurement from them, and of women’s business enterprises teaming up and doing business with one another. In turn, corporate representatives outlined opportunities in 2017 and gave advice on how best to capitalise on current and future opportunities.
Jean Chawapiwa, Executive Director of WEConnect International in South Africa, in her year-end report stated that WEConnect International in South Africa now has 23 certified women’s business enterprises, up from only 3 in August 2015. WEConnect International plans to expand its presence in other African countries, and Jean will be part of this drive. 2017 will also see a ramping up of Connect Sessions and Trainings.
The breakfast was also an opportunity to discuss activities beyond South Africa’s borders. Jean and two women’s business enterprises, Lorette Theron of Cognadev, and Memuna Williams of Avantgarde Translations who had attended the WEConnect International in Europe conference in London during November 2016, emphasised the value of this event.
“There was loads of practical advice at the event on solutions available for Women’s Business Enterprises,” said Lorette. “It was interesting to learn that the UK government is involved in WEConnect International’s European activities.” Memuna pointed out the value of learning about new trends, such as agile project management, and highlighted evidence of Jean’s profile in WEConnect International, “Jean is well known and liked, and this is to our advantage in South Africa.” A third women business owner, Jazz Mbanjwa of Zenzele Recruitment (Pty) Ltd, was sponsored by IBM to attend the event.
The year end was enlivened by a quiz with prizes, and a raffle. All prizes were sponsored by women business enterprises.