The continent’s most influential women in business, sports, science, entertainment and leadership received recognition at the prestigious Forbes Woman Africa Awards inaugural gala dinner held at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on Friday, 8 March.
The awards’ dinner followed a full day of panel discussions and talks by New Wealth Creators from across Africa at the fourth annual Forbes Woman Africa Leading Women Summit, hosted by the KZN Provincial Government in association with Absa, the IDC, Women of Africa and supported by Delta Air Lines.
“The awards’ ceremony was the perfect conclusion to a highly constructive day of networking and concept sharing by Africa’s most dynamic women,” said Methil Renuka, managing editor of Forbes Africa and Forbes Woman Africa. “I would like to congratulate every award recipient – the work they are doing is impacting the lives of millions of young women worldwide, creating a space for them to, in turn, make their mark in a meaningful way.”
The event, which was hosted by the talented Fifi Peters and Nongcebo Mckenzie, got underway following an opening address by eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, with a welcome address by Rakesh Wahi, co-founder of the ABN Group. MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, extended a warm KwaZulu-Natal welcome to all attendees before the awards’ ceremony began.
Special thanks were extended to Desch for supplying the elegant garments worn by the hostesses and emcees on the evening, as well as Courvoisier, Vana and Carrol Boyes for sponsoring gifts for all the winners and judges – including a special Courvoisier XO for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
2019 Forbes Woman Africa winners
Forbes Woman Africa Gen Y Award – Rachel Sibande
Founder of Malawi’s first technology hub, MHub, and an alumnus of President Obama’s Young African Leaders’ Initiative, Sibande nurtures young technology enthusiasts and is championing the development and deployment of innovative technology solutions in elections monitoring, citizen engagement and agriculture across Africa.
Forbes Woman Africa Sports Award – Caster Semenya
One of the world’s fastest women, Semenya is a Discovery Vitality ambassador and role model for breaking down archaic gender stereotypes. Since her 2009 World Championships’ victory in Berlin at the age of 18, South Africa’s ‘golden girl’ has won 18 gold medals and set a number of new records.
Forbes Woman Africa Entertainer Award – Sho Madjozi
This unintimidated young South African musician has released a stream of hits since 2017, gaining attention from major labels and brands. From humble beginnings in rural Limpopo, Madjozi has become a ‘global citizen’ and, in addition to her music, she prides herself in uplifting others. In 2017, Madjozi was voted as of eight creatives to watch by Unlabelled Mag and named one of 19 notable entertainers and artists by the Mail & Guardian in their 200 young South African’s list.
Forbes Woman Africa Technology and Innovation Award – Arlene Mulder
A passion for finding innovative digital problem-solving capabilities in Africa saw Mulder establish WeThinkCode, a tech business that aims to democratise and revolutionise education in order to deliver Africa’s top tech talent. WeThinkCode believes that the African youth has the potential to re-code the continent’s future.
Forbes Woman Africa Sustainable Citizen Award – Judith Kepher-Gona
As an advocate for sustainable tourism, Kepher-Gona has made several developments in African tourism, including founding the Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda, serving on the advisory board of the International Ecotourism Society and as director at the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) in Kenya and a trustee of the Basecamp Foundation Kenya (BCFK).
Forbes Woman Africa Social Influencer Award – Obiageli Ezekwesili
An anti-corruption activist, former vice-president of the World Bank and co-founder of Transparency International, Ezekwesili was instrumental in starting the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media. She was named one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine and was shortlisted for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. She holds a Masters in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, as well as a Masters of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Forbes Woman Africa New Media Award – Uchenna Pedro
Uche Pedro is a Nigerian blogger, writer, social media expert, entrepreneur and founder of the online lifestyle and entertainment magazine, BellaNaija.com. This portal has inspired many African bloggers and is one of the top 100 sites in Nigeria.
Forbes Woman Africa Male Gender Advocate Award – Bonang Mohale
The CEO of Business Leadership South Africa is renowned for actively seeking to advance his country’s interests by sharing insights on the role of business in South Africa while calling on the private sector to advocate for and invest in gender equality and transformation.
Forbes Woman Africa Businesswoman of the Year Award – Dr Divine Simbi-Ndhlukula
Zimbabwean entrepreneur and founder of Securico Security Services, Simbi-Ndhlukula has grown her business from just five employees in 1998 to more than 4,000 employees today. A locally and internationally-respected role-player in security, Simbi-Ndhlukula is also praised for her passion for female economic and social empowerment, founding the Mentorship in Practice programme and Woman-Owned Brand initiative.
Forbes Woman Africa Public Sector Award – Nosipho Mkhupheka
Starting out as a clerk typist in 1989, Mkhupheka has worked her way through numerous departments in the public sector. She is currently at the Scottburgh Department of Home Affairs where her dedication to efficient customer service practice and work ethic is praised by her fellow citizens.
Forbes Woman Africa Lifetime Achievement Award – Wendy Luhabe
Constantly seeking to bridge the gap between women and the economy, this South African businesswoman, social entrepreneur and the author holds three honorary doctorates for her work with women and was awarded the Lieutenant of the Victorian Order (LVO) by the British Royal Family in 2014. In 1999, her business, Women Investment Portfolio Holdings, listed on the JSE and she was named one of the 50 Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World.