After a countrywide search for South Africa’s top female entrepreneurs, two women took top prizes at the Fairlady Women of the Future Awards.
Held at The Maslow Hotel in Sandton on 19 August, the event saw Boitumelo Ntsoane walking off with the Fairlady Women of the Future Award for her work in healthcare, and Amy de Castro receiving the Fairlady Rising Star prize for her innovative wristwatch designs.
The awards attracted some of South Africa’s most famous and powerful women including public protector, Thuli Madonsela and former personal assistant to Nelson Mandela, Zelda La Grange, both of whom were judges. A-list women in attendance included Miss South Africa, Liesl Laurie; sports media personality, Kass Naidoo; and TV presenter, Leanne Manas.
Ntsoane is the managing director of Afrilink HealthCare, a primary healthcare service provider. She said the award is a sign that she is doing the right thing. “It is an affirmation that I am stepping into my purpose, and that I should just keep going. I feel that I don’t just have a job, but that I am living my purpose.”
She said the win reinforced the feeling that she was on the right track to expanding her business empire.
Among a host of prizes that included R50 000 in cash, Ntsoane has also won an invaluable mentoring session with one of the judges.
De Castro, owner of Bamboo Revolution, a producer of bamboo and leather wristwatches, said she wishes to inspire young entrepreneurs, particularly women. “There’s so much opportunity out there – you just have to grab hold of it. It’s a challenge being a young woman entrepreneur. I learnt quickly to have a strong backbone and not to take things personally. You have to look at the challenges as opportunities to grow and learn.”
To De Castro the honour was in the acknowledgement of her work and how she can inspire others, and not in the cash prize.
IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
One of the judges at the event was Fairlady editor, Suzy Brokensha, who found the entrepreneurs and their business ideas inspiring. “Being on the judging panel for the Fairlady Women of the Future Awards was really rewarding.
“It wasn’t only the business ideas that were inspiring – although there were so many really smart ideas. The women themselves were incredible. South Africa produces formidable entrepreneurs, but these women were in a league of their own.”
Santam executive head of brand, Yegs Ramiah said being part of the judging panel was a huge privilege. “The entrepreneurial spirit, the drive and sheer determination displayed by each and every participant instils a sense of pride in the women of our nation. They are true trailblazers.
“They were all deserving of their spot in this competition, but unfortunately there could only be two winners. The high calibre of their business ethics and quality of their operations has earned our winners their titles.”