New Bwasa executive rises from the ashes

BACK IN BUSINESS: Executive committee members, from left, Suzanne Vermeulen, Nikki Reddy, Pumeza Bono, Charné Munge, Alice Selokoma and chair Lee-Anne Vasi are excited about the relaunch of the Port Elizabeth branch of the Businesswomen’s Association of SA
BACK IN BUSINESS: Executive committee members, from left, Suzanne Vermeulen, Nikki Reddy, Pumeza Bono, Charné Munge, Alice Selokoma and chair Lee-Anne Vasi are excited about the relaunch of the Port Elizabeth branch of the Businesswomen’s Association of SA
Image: Supplied

Renewed, reborn and eager to get the message out there that women are stronger together, the Port Elizabeth branch of the Businesswomen’s Association of SA (Bwasa) is back.

And this time it plans on going back to the basics. 

In May last year, the Port Elizabeth branch opted to close its doors amid allegations of financial irregularities and a breakdown of trust between the local and national branches, leaving a vacuum in the local community for the support and empowerment of women in business.

But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the association has managed to put a new executive committee together in less than a year.

Newly-elected chair Lee-Anne Vasi said she was excited to take on the challenge.

“We asked ourselves, what was the original intent in developing a non-profit organisation?

“The answer was simple,” Vasi said.

“It was to inspire and empower women in business”.

Vasi, a senior manager at the Nelson Mandela University business school, said their strategic plan going forward would be to focus on the empowerment of women from small to large business owners and to open gateways to education to support women in the ever-evolving digital era.

“We need to go back to the basics. We need to prepare women for the future by opening the doors to education,” she said.

The new executive committee has already overcome its first hurdle, with plans for the relaunch placed on hold in wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Vasi said they had instead relied on social media and the   press to announce that the Port Elizabeth  branch was up and running once more.

She was also excited about her committee and the number of personal sacrifices they had already made to make the relaunch possible.

In a media statement sent out earlier this week, the association said: “It is our goal to enter into strategic business partnerships with sponsors, other non-profit organisations, leading companies and business schools, to deliver on the mandate to provide ongoing events and opportunities to advance the interests and needs of women in business.”

The 2017 Port Elizabeth BWA emerging entrepreneur winner, Kelly Ferreira, said she was pleased to read about the announcement of a new PE BWA executive committee.

“I wish the committee all of the best going forward, and hope that the PE branch is afforded the transparent management and leadership from the BWA head office that it so richly deserves,” Ferreira said.

Last year, the Port Elizabeth branch announced its decision to close due to a breakdown in communication with the head office of Bwasa, suspected financial irregularities, a failure by the head office to provide full transparency in respect of the financial status of Bwasa and an alleged lack of strategic direction.

Former chair Heather Dutton said at the time that the decision to dissolve the BWA in Port Elizabeth had not been taken lightly.

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