Melanie Medell, owner of Melaire Linens, was chosen to participate in corporate member EY’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women Class of 2016 programme. Melanie has been a WEConnect International in South Africa certified Women Business Enterprise since March 2015.
Melanie credits her selection to the EY programme to WEConnect International in South Africa’s support.
She says, “This opportunity is a direct outcome of my attendance of the WEConnect International in South Africa Annual Conference held in April . In particular, Jean Chawapiwa, Executive Director of WEConnect International in South Africa is a powerful catalyst.”
Through the EY programme, Melanie attained the status of an Entrepreneurial Winning Women and joined an elite business network of the country’s best high-growth companies. She participated in a customised executive leadership programme held in EY’s Johannesburg offices, with activities comprising four workshops and a closing ceremony event.
Melanie was introduced to WEConnect International in South Africa by Jenny Classen of Ngaphaya Y2K10, who is also a certified Women Business Enterprise.
She says, “When I attended the first WEConnect International in South Africa meeting in Cape Town in 2015, I realised Andrew Towns, Group Procurement Manager for Marriott International was part of the WEConnect International in South Africa advisory [council]. Jean contacted Andrew to introduce her business and “that’s actually when his role as my mentor really took off.”
The process for Melanie’s business certification began shortly afterwards. Her certification was finalized in March 2016 and ensured that Marriott International’s initial procurement discussions with Melaire Linens were fast-tracked into a supplier agreement. She explains that WEConnect International certification makes it possible to skip steps during the procurement negotiation process with member buyers and takes out ‘unnecessary conversations.’
“The ease for the Corporate of dealing with a women-owned company that is capable and has made the self-investment cannot be underestimated,” she says. “It remains the responsibility of the women-owned company to keep up global standards to ensure that doors remain open. This requires continuous upskilling and efforts to ensure that Melaire Linens remains at the top of its game.”
Melanie aims to expand beyond South Africa, particularly the regions where Marriott International is active. She plans to expand her plant and build a satellite plant on the continent.
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