A helping hand for businesswomen

Bobbi Sands

FOR more than 10 years the Port Elizabeth branch of the Business Women’s Association (BWA) has been supporting women in business, and this year is no exception.
Two lucky post-graduate students, Kaylene Booth and Sinoxolo Klaas, were awarded R10000 each to further their studies in a business field.
The bursaries are awarded annually by the BWA to empower women in business.
About 10% of the positions of chief executive and board members are women, and the BWA’s main aim is to uplift and empower businesswomen through education, mentoring and opportunity.
BWA chairwoman Michelle Brown said the Port Elizabeth branch of the BWA is the third largest in the country, with about 400 members.
The branch belongs to a national body and has strong alliances with local organisations which include the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the Port Elizabeth Business Camber and the UDDI.
“We have great relationships with credible organisations backing our members and emerging businesswomen,” said Brown who added Nedbank has also been one of their big supporters.
“Our aim is to grow women in business from entrepreneurs to corporate and professional women.
“The BWA allows us to have a wonderful group of women who can help encourage and develop women who are starting out.”
Brown herself had a tough start when she started her public relations firm, Brown’s PR.
“I absolutely could have done with the BWA when I first started. As a young woman starting out, I found there were many stumbling blocks, and not always a helping, or encouraging hand.” Brown said she promised herself she would always do what she could to give back.
“We (the executive committee) all feel very strongly about giving back to emerging businesswomen.”The BWA has monthly meetings with members and a number of workshops they run throughout the year.
They also have a mentoring project.
“This is all done on a voluntary basis, and we would not be so successful if it were not for the strong team which is our membership base,” said Brown.
Each year the BWA also hosts matric workshops with 12 schools within the city to discuss how to apply for jobs, how to dress, putting together a CV and many more important aspects of going into the real world.
“We all do this to ensure the growth of the businesswoman of tomorrow,” said Brown.

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