South Africa
September 4, 2019


As August is women’s month in South Africa, WEConnect International in South Africa together with corporate member Accenture, celebrated the month with women business owners in Cape Town at the WEInnovate Women’s Workshop. With technology and digitization becoming prominent and increasingly essential parts of the business, the workshop, held at the world-class Cape Town International Convention Centre, engaged the attendees in Customer User experience design.

To further bring in the technology into the session, Accenture introduced attendees to the Mentimeter App, which was used to facilitate interaction. The Mentimeter App is a presentation software that creates interactive presentations, workshops, and meetings. Amongst its many functions, guests were able to connect to the app and posted questions they had for the presenters on the app. Attendees were able to rate each other’s questions, with the highly-rated questions answered by the presenters. We were not just talking innovation; but were also tech-savvy, using technology to improve event interactions.

Accenture innovated our usual business pitch, by having the women business owners in attendance form collaborations groups in which they created tech-based companies, each with a unique offering. They then pitched their newly formed tech start-ups to attendees who rated each group on the Mentimeter App.

The Managing Director for Mobility at Accenture, Carmen Whateley, gave an insightful presentation on Customer User experience design. She reminded us that the efficiency and convenience of the products and services, provided by technology disruptors such as Uber & Facebook, have created expectations among customers which have split over into other industries and services. This, among many other reasons, is why technology forms a huge component in the customer user experience. One of the biggest teachings to come out of Carmen’s enlightening discussion was that even though innovation is pushing businesses to be more technologically inclined, now more than ever, customers want the human element in their commercial interactions.

Among the phenomenal women speaking was Patricia Norris, CEO of Commuter Transport Engineering (CTE), a company founded by her in 1998. CTE refurbishes commuter rail coaches. Patricia was a Winners in the Department of Trade & Industry 6th Annual South African Premier Business Awards, under the category of Women-Owned in March 2019.

Patricia spoke on her business journey, encouraging women business owners to find ways to turn challenges faced in business into an incremental success. CTE has from the outset undertaken progressive social responsibility initiatives aimed at empowering the people where they operate, promoting active involvement in developing the community and fostering the overall well-being of the town and its people.

Patricia shared her feeling that self-management and continual self-development is imperative to achieve success in business. She herself was continuing on a path that is leading her to continue her studies at top USA Universities.

The Accenture team led by Zandile Njamela, Supplier Inclusion & Diversity: ESDP Lead, were instrumental during the planing of the event. Zandile is a vice-chair of the WEConnect International in South Africa Advisory Council and a champion for supplier diversity. Supporting in attendance was Advisory Council Chair Jacob Pretorius, Johnson & Johnson’s Global Sourcing Lead; as well as Sinqobile Khumalo, EY’s Procurement Talent Africa Team Member, Business Enablement.

The afternoon ended with WBE/WBO & Corporates matchmaking, with WBE being given an opportunity to meet corporates first on one/one discussions, then followed by WBO & Corporates in groups of threes.

We were thrilled to have many certified women business enterprises (WBEs) from both Cape Town as well as Johannesburg in attendance sharing their journey in the network with the attendees. We would like to thank all those who participated in this exhilarating day in Cape Town as we moved the innovation conversation forward in South Africa while taking the country and its businesses into a Fourth Industrial Revolution, led by women.