South African Women Entrepreneurs, Corporate Leaders Who Made Major Moves in 2020

SME South Africa reflects on the achievements of South African women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders in 2020. We look at those who took on a new C-suite positions of major companies, launched new business ventures or helped to drive innovations.

1. Ntombezinhle Jiyane (DJ Zinhle)

Disk jockey and music producer, Jiyane, was awarded the 2020 Forbes Woman Africa Entertainer Award earlier this year.

Jiyane has a lucrative interior design and luxury watch businesses. This year the South African women entrepreneur announced a number of new business ventures. The first is a collaboration with Nungu Diamonds on a new jewelry collection. The range includes a 9K white gold Africa diamond pendant with a chain worth R6,000. She also released custom-made masks with Jireh Wellness in June.

In October, Jiyane was announced the first local artist to obtain equity in the international brand, Boulevard Nectar Rosè, sparkling wine beverage where she took over as chief executive.

Adding on to an already lucrative year, in November, Jiyane released her new sunglasses collection called EraVision, which is part of her already established brand, Era By DJ Zinhle.

2. Siba Mtongana

The South African celebrity chef and TV personality was named one of the 7 Food Goddesses in the World by Tatler Malaysia. The list includes other cooking icons such as Nigella Lawson, Mexico’s Pati Jinich, India’s Amrita Raichand and Rachael Ray from the US.

Mtongana, who is the host and food editor of Siba’s Table on the Food Network, also recently wrote on her Instagram page that she has received recognition from Harvard University for her efforts as a South African women entrepreneur.

She wrote: “I’m now a case study at Harvard Business School, the most prestigious business school in the world!

“They have been doing a case study on my food career, being an entrepreneur, a woman and a pioneer in the culinary world locally and globally, against all odds.”

Mtongana, who hails from the Eastern Cape, called the experience “surreal”.

“It was so surreal hearing top minds analysing my brand and business from their own eyes…. and still feels like a dream to be part of academic literature at Harvard.”

3. Palesa Mokubung

Palesa Mokubung founded the clothing brand Mantsho in 2004 and is known for creating bold and edgy designs. Mokubung’s designs have been seen on runways in Senegal, Greece, New York, India and Nigeria.

This year, Mokubung partnered with local leading decor company, Airloom, to create fashion floor art, including rugs and cushions.

Mokubung also collaborated with the insurance company 1st for Women and Miss Universe 2019, Zozibini Tunzi, to design a T-shirt featuring bold Mantsho prints, emblazoned with the word “FEARLESS”. The aim of the campaign is to encourage women to live fearlessly. At least 20% of all proceeds will go to 1st for Women Foundation to fight against the abuse of women and children.

Mantsho means “Black is Beautiful” in Mokubung’s native language, Sesotho.

4. Celeste Margo Le Roux

South African women entrepreneur, Le Roux, is the co-founder React24 and React Training College and the latest winner of the prestigious title of Standard Bank’s Top Woman Entrepreneur for 2020.

Earlier this year Le Roux was also announced the winner of the 2020 Woman Mentor of the Year at the inaugural Empowerment and Recognition of Women in Construction Awards 2020.

Le Roux built React24 from her kitchen table in her home, with her husband, two artisans and one vehicle.

According to Bizcommunity, React24 renders bespoke reactive site services to the residential, industrial, commercial and retail markets.

The React Training College launched on 22 September this year providing training for artisans in the plumbing trade. It is a 100% black woman-owned and managed business.

5. Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela

Nxusani-Mawela launched Tolokazi Craft Beer in October in Port Elizabeth under her brand, Brewsters Craft which she launched in 2015. Tolokazi is Nxusani-Mawela’s clan name.

The Herald reports that Nxusani-Mawela makes use of African-inspired ingredients such as sorghum, rooibos and other local delicacies.

Nxusani-Mawela has also played an instrumental role in assisting three friends to launch their own craft beer brand, FourtyFour Premium Lager, which launched this year, according to Business Insider.

Earlier this year Nxusani-Mawela’s company Brewsters Craft was announced one of six winners of an entrepreneurship competition by the TV channel VIA. Competition prizes included marketing airtime on VIA as well as publicity in Media24 newspapers and magazines.

Nxusani-Mawela holds a BSc Honours in microbiology from University of Pretoria, a master brewer qualification from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. She was the first person in South Africa to complete the NQF6 National Diploma in clear fermented beverages.

6. Triple Eight

This socially conscious marketing, PR and digital agency was announced agency of the year at the Global Purpose Awards 2020 in the United Kingdom.

According to a press release, the awards recognise campaigns that use creative ideas successfully to further positive causes.

The awards are open to agencies, brands, public sector bodies, charities and NGOs throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

This year, Triple Eight achieved a milestone of 50 long-term purpose campaigns which reached over 44 million people directly through high-impact face-to-face programmes.

With eight years’ experience in hygiene and handwashing behaviour-change interventions, Triple Eight’s work has, this year, been more critical than ever.

Triple Eight has offices in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.

7. Amy Jephta

‘Barakat’ is a South African film and the first Muslim movie in Afrikaans to win Best Narrative at the 23rd Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Festival in America this year. ‘Barakat’ will be released in May 2021 in South Africa; it celebrates the life and culture of the residents of the Cape Flats.

The woman behind the movie is Jephta, a South African playwright, screenwriter and theatre director who is also the director of the film. She is the co-founder of the production company Nagvlug Films. According to her, the movie challenges preconceived narratives of the Flats and Coloured communities of the Mother City.

Her other work include ‘Kristalvlakte’, ‘Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story’, ‘Other People’s Lives’, ‘Sonskyn Beperk’, and ‘While You Weren’t Looking’.

8. Zukiswa Wanner

Zukiswa Wanner is a renowned novelist, non-fiction writer and journalist, and this year’s recipient of the Goethe Medal 2020 award alongside Ian McEwan and Elvira Espejo Ayca. Wanner is the first African woman to win the award.

The Federal Republic of Germany’s official honour is conferred by the Goethe-Institut every year to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to international cultural exchange, according to IOL.

Wanner’s work include her debut novel, ‘The Madams’ (2006), which was shortlisted for a South African Literary Award.

It was followed by ‘Behind Every Successful Man’ (2008) and ‘Men of the South’ (2010) which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Best Book Africa and the Herman Charles Bowman award. London Cape Town Joburg (2014), her last novel won a South African Literary Award.

Wanner has facilitated writing workshops in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Germany, US, UK and Denmark.

She is also a columnist for Mail & Guardian and a 2018 Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Studies (JIAS) Fellow.

9. Rushda Moosajee

Businesswoman, personal trainer and online coach, Moosajee, launched her second mobile app, RushTushFit, in March this year.

The personal training app is available for Apple or Android users. It allows users to set fitness goals and personalise their training programmes.

Known for her nutrition and weight-loss programmes for moms, Moosajee’s first app, RushTushLife, allows users to purchase her pharmaceutical range which includes RushTush Hydrolized Collagen, RushTush Whey, a Metabolic Spray, and a Gluc Support Pill.

Moosajee’s brand RushTush also sells beauty products such as lipsticks, detox teas and lounge-wear clothing.

10. Yolenda Jawe

Jawe is a South African YouTuber, digital creator and influencer who is known for her channel, Yolz Channel. This year she launched her own skin-care range of face masks called Yolz Beauty which she self-funded. The Yolz Beauty launched with three bamboo sheet masks.

The Yolz Beauty’s product range has since expanded to include a bath and a body collection which features bath bombs and bath soaks.

Jawe previously collaborated on a hair accessories line for natural hair.


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