WOMEN in business were celebrated last night at a glittering event at the Boardwalk Convention Centre where the Businesswomen’s Association (BWA) Port Elizabeth honoured six leading women in business and government.
The six achievers were selected from 18 finalists and 88 entrants for the coveted regional business achiever awards. According to the winner in the entrepreneur category, Laetitia Ferreira, all the finalists were winners in their own right.
Ferreira, the owner of the successful Loerie Processed Veg, said the competition gave her the opportunity to make new friends, network and most importantly, it gave her the opportunity to be inspired as a businesswoman.
“We seldom get recognition in business, especially entrepreneurs. This has been an amazing privilege.”
According to the marketing manager at Access facilities and leisure management (operators of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium), Buli G Ngomane – who won in the corporate category – the awards offered an exciting opportunity to be “validated”.
“I always do my best and this has inspired me to be driven to do my best and work on successful projects. It is a wonderful opportunity to also show my colleagues and family members what other businesswomen can do,” Ngomane said.
The winner of the social entrepreneur category, Philippa Fabbri, is the founder of the Elsen Academy, an independent school in Port Elizabeth with 97 pupils. Married to Bay funnyman Gino Fabbri, Philippa said she was used to her husband being in the limelight and never imagined seeing herself at this kind of event.
“It is a great honour and has been an interesting journey as a finalist in the regional business achievers awards.” Other category winners were the head of paediatric oncology at Dora Nginza Hospital, Dr Florentina Ureche (government category), the owner of the Canine Café chain of pet supply stores, Sandra Vye (emerging entrepreneur category) and the director at BLC Attorneys, Di-Anne Qoto (professional category).
BWA Port Elizabeth chairwoman Michelle Brown said the finalists had stood out for their passion and vision, planning ahead and belief in themselves and their strengths. All were strongly involved beyond their businesses in community and development work. “They all showed the will to share their experience with others within their organisations and small businesses, to enable other women to grow and become empowered.”
She said this year’s competition had highlighted the high calibre of women in the metro and surrounding areas, “who do wonderful work while flying under the radar”.
Dressed in an elegant black business suit, the star of the evening was South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, who was the guest speaker.
The judging panel consisted of independent judges representing a broad cross- section of the city’s leaders in business, government and civil society. Some of the judges, who also attended last night’s event, were the president of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber Mandla Madwara, the director at Coca-Cola Sabco Ltd Dorothea Moors and the director of marketing at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Pieter Swart.
Alexander Road High School pupils, who formed a guard of honour for the finalists as they entered the Convention Centre, said they were enthralled by the calibre of women who attended the event.
“This is so inspiring, and empowering for women. The awards are proof that women can have brains and beauty,” Zimasa Dunywa, 17, a Grade 11 pupil at the school, said.