Finalists announced in Businesswoman of the Year Awards


Johannesburg, 21 June 2017–The Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) has announced the names of the 13 women who have made it through to the final round of the 37th annual Businesswoman of the Year Awards. The awards recognise South African women who excel in various sectors of the economy and lead with integrity and humility.


BWASA National President, Farzanah Mall, says the winners will be announced at a gala event at the Sandton Convention Centre on 7 September. “The theme for this year’s event is Women with no filter- Celebrating leaders who honour themselves and others. It is important for us to celebrate leaders who lead with integrity, truth, excellence and wisdom and who can acknowledge their successes as well as their development areas .We chose this theme because in South Africa and globally, we have a geo-political and economic  recession resulting from a shortage of great leaders. We require leaders who do not focus on purely personal wealth creation but rather focus on being the best they can be, utilising their knowledge, capabilities and experience to impact not only their businesses but equally their family, community and country.”


She adds that the calibre of finalists this year is phenomenal. “It is exciting to celebrate and acknowledge these incredible leaders, especially given the tough economic climate they’re operating in. They represent the qualities we hope to see in current and future leaders in our country.”


The guest speaker at this year’s announcement event is the extraordinary Ashenafi Meaza, who worked as a judge and later as a researcher for the Ethiopian Constitution Commission, which was responsible for drafting its 1995 Constitution.


“In conjunction with a group of female lawyers, Ashenafi established the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and served the Association as its first executive director. Later, she completed an MA in the United States and joined the United Nations. She is also one of the Founders of Enat Bank (a women-focused bank) and has served as the Founding Chair of the Bank’s Board since 2014”, adds Mall.


Sasol is once again the headline sponsor of the Businesswoman of the Year Awards. “This year’s theme could not be more relevant than it is today. We are celebrating women who are bold, they are brave and they believe in themselves and in those they lead. Sasol is proud to be associated with the Businesswomen’s Association as a powerful catalyst for women empowerment in South Africa,” said Wrenelle Stander, Senior Vice President, Sasol Limited.


Finalists in the Corporate, Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship and Education categories include:





Faith Khanyile is CEO and founding member of WDB Investment Holdings (WDBIH), a strategic transformational investor founded and led by women. Faith serves on the JSE-listed boards of Discovery Limited, Safari RSA Investments, Seed Engine, a supporter and funder of SMMEs, and International Housing Solutions, an unlisted Private Equity Fund.


She graduated on the Dean’s Honour Roll and was on the Dean’s List at Wheaton College in the USA. In addition, she obtained her MBA from the Bentley Graduate School of Business, also in the USA. She attended Executive Leadership Training at Columbia Business School, New York.  In 2016, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Wheaton College for the upliftment of rural women through her work at WDB.


Nompumelelo (Mpumi) Madisa is an executive director at Bidvest SA. She was a 2015/2016 finalist in Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government, Corporate Category and was named in the top 200 young African leaders by the Choiseul 100 Africa. In her more than 10 years within the Bidvest Group, she has held various senior management and executive board director positions such as general manager business development, divisional director business development, corporate affairs director and sales and marketing director. Mpumi is the Director of 16 Bidvest subsidiaries.


She has a Master’s degree in Finance and Investment, a BCom Honours in Economics and a BSc in Economics and Mathematics.


Michelle Williams-Swartz is operations director for Johnson & Johnson. She sits on the South African Management Board and is a member of the Border Kei Chamber of Business and BWA (along with other women she inspired at Johnson & Johnson). She was recently invited to sit on the St Bernard’s Hospice board.


She completed a BSc degree at the University of the Free-state in 1999 and has come up the ranks from being a quality control manager for Coca‐Cola in Umtata, to indulging her entrepreneurial streak by running a children’s party planning business with her husband.


Taryn Woodbridge is a chartered accountant and senior manager of finance and controlling at Mercedes Benz South Africa. She started at the company in 2004 in the Controlling Division and went through the ranks of manager: plant performance and operations and manager accounts and tax before being promoted to her current position. Taryn is a passionate mentor and coach for the next generation of leaders and is actively involved in developing young CA’s at Mercedes Benz’ East London plant since 2008.


She sits on the committee of the Angel Outreach initiative, engaging with children from various children’s homes. At MBSA she is spearheading the Women’s Forum and employee volunteer initiatives. She has a Masters degree in Taxation from Rhodes University.




Barbara Farrell is the owner and managing director of UDEC Group, which is a leader in speciality chemicals and process materials for the refining petrochemical and mining industries.


She is street-wise, extremely driven, hard-working and precise. Her business in the male dominated industry has grown from a one-woman operation to a successful large business. She has worked in Russia, France, USA, Singapore and Cape Town and is fluent in six languages.


Susan Rose Hadcroft is the founder and managing director of Cubicle Manufacturing Solutions, which was founded in 2009 and specialises in the manufacturing of water resistant and durable toilet and shower cubicles, lockers and benches for shopping malls, hospitals, offices and gymnasiums. Her clients include Virgin Active gyms, Engen Garages and Planet Fitness gyms.


She has successfully grown Cubicle Manufacturing Solutions to be a market leader in the manufacturing industry. Notably, the company’s turnover has quadrupled since its inception eight years ago.


Johanna Mukoki is Group CEO of Travel with Flair, which she co-founded 20 years ago with two partners.  The business started with three employees and one office in Pretoria. Today, it employs over 700 staff nationally. Johanna has been awarded Most Influential Woman in Business and Government in Tourism; Ernst & Young Emerging World Entrepreneur of the Year and Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business. In addition, she received an Exceptional Commitment Award from the ASATA Diners Club. She is the first person from Africa to sit on the Global Tourism Board – Association of Corporate Travel Executives – where she represents the Middle East and Africa.


Johanna is vice president of the ASATA Board and sits on the Salvation Army board where she assists with fundraising for their children shelters. She is a qualified chartered accountant with a BCom degree from Rhodes University.




Alison Smeeton is the founder of EmployAbility, which offers supported employment for people with intellectual disabilities.  Founded in 2002 as a non-profit organisation, EmloyAbility expanded to include a therapy centre in 2010. The centre offers block therapy and inclusion support for children with intellectual disabilities. In November 2010, the first disability academy, offering learnerships for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, was established and in 2012 a school for children with significant disabilities opened.


Today, EmployAbility has eight academies nationally, training over 600 people with a disability. In addition, it has recruitment divisions nationally, which place and support people with disabilities in the open-labour market.


Dr Shaheda Bibi Omar is the clinical director of The Teddy Bear Clinic. With more than 25 years’ experience in the field, Shaheda has been with The Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children for 16 years. She developed the Diversion Programme for young sex offenders, which is hailed as the most progressive programme on the continent. She is the author of the Diversion Handbook, ‘Children who sexually abuse other children’. In addition, she has presented at numerous national and international conferences, workshops and training sessions and sits on the SAPSAC committee, Shukumisa Campaign (working group for sexual offences legislation) and on the Accreditation committee for diversion.


Shaheda serves on various boards, including Nkosi’s Haven; Muslim AIDS Programme; Arepp, Theatre For Life; and the Johannesburg Institute For Social Services. She also volunteers as a counsellor at the Parktown convent & AIDS clinic in Hillbrow, amongst others. She has a BA Social Work (Hons), a Masters in Mental Health, diploma in Marriage Guidance & Counselling and Forensic Assessment of child victims of abuse, and has completed a doctoral thesis on young sex offenders.


Sue Wildish is the managing director of the LunchBox Fund (LBF), a non-profit organisation that has been feeding orphaned and at-risk school children in townships and rural areas of South Africa since 2005. LBF provides 13 000 children across the nine provinces with meals daily.


With 37 years’ experience in FMCG and NGO space in South Africa and internationally, Sue left a successful career as an international music executive to run LBF and believes that no child should be denied an education because they cannot focus or have no energy to learn. She is result oriented, self-starter with resilience, pace and interpersonal flexibility. She is a resilient yogi and a blogger.




Prof Cheryl de la Rey is the vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Pretoria in South Africa, a position she has fulfilled since November 2009. She was previously executive director at the National Research Foundation, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town and CEO of the Council on Higher Education (CHE).


She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in 1983 (Psychology Distinction), Bachelor of Arts Honours in 1984 and Master of Arts in 1986 from the University of Natal, both cum-laude. She subsequently obtained her PhD in Psychology from the University of Cape Town in 1999 and is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa as a research psychologist.


Associate Prof Katijah Khoza-Shangase is an associate professor and former head of department in Speech Pathology & Audiology at Wits. She is the first and only black African to be awarded a PhD in her field. She sits on numerous committees and boards at various faculties, schools and universities, and at national level. In addition, she is on the board of the National Health Professions’ Council of SA. She has been nominated and has won numerous awards particularly in research and best contribution to Audiology.


She has published several peer-reviewed journals, technical reports and position papers, which she has presented at national and international conferences. Her publications continue to be the main audiological evidence from developing countries. She is fully engaged in the curriculum development of many courses that she teaches. All her qualifications are from Wits.


Associate Prof Mzikazi Nduna is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Witwatersrand. She is a NRF Y-rated scientist, is registered with the South African Council of Educators and has 21 years working experience as an educator, facilitator and trainer. In addition, she has co-authored 52 peer-reviewed journal articles, a book review, three book chapters and edited two special issue journals. She is an alumnus of the Sexuality Leadership Development, the Carnegie and the ICP CHANGE Fellowships, as well as a member of the gender-based violence Prevention Network for the Horn, East and Southern Africa, the HIV Vaccines Network, the SANAC and the DST/NRF CoE-HUMAN. She also sits on the board of the National Women’s Shelter Movement.


Mzikazi holds a BA and a Higher Diploma in Education, an Honours degree in Psychology, a Masters in Research and a PhD in Public Health.

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