It’s hard not to want to quit your day job and become your own boss when you step into a room filled with names like Louisa Mojela, Ipeleng Mkhari, Basetsana Kumalo, Phyllis Newhouse and Margery Kraus.

They and other businesswomen gathered this week for Women’s Month and the launch of a new branch in the Women President’s Organization (WPO). 

It’s an international initiative set up to advance and improve conditions for women entrepreneurs in all industries around the world. You pay a membership fee and get access to other female achievers as a kind of peer advisory body. 

In a swish boutique hotel are some leaders who own, run or are shareholders in operations that employ several hundreds of workers, have annual revenues of more than 9 zeroes and are recognised as some of the fastest-growing women-owned companies globally. 

That’s extraordinary success.

Photo by Zoom Photography

Interestingly, the two most quoted women on the day were the longest serving FLOTUS and an activist who was passionate about civil and women’s rights, Eleanor Roosevelt, and US businesswoman and author, Sheryl Sandberg. 

Inspirational messages attributed to Eleanor included, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" and "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people".

To Sheryl, "In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders".
 
And that’s why these incredible support groups such as the WPO are important. We still need them because women still need to encourage, champion and give a leg up to other women. 

Photo by Zoom Photography

Here are some highlights from the powerhouses that were there.

1. Valerie Mentz, CEO of Geo Data Design

"We live in a country with immense opportunities and it’s up to us to grow this economy." 

2. Phyllis Newhouse, president and CEO of Xtreme Solutions

"How do you get there? Hang out with people who are already there." 

3. Phyllis Newhouse

"Use a vision board. I put pictures of everything I see on paper and want to happen so I can see what it’s going to look like. You’ve got to see it, then do it." 

4. Margery Kraus, chairman of WPO global board and founder and executive chairman of APCO worldwide

"I don’t believe in work/life balance. My philosophy is that your family becomes an ecosystem and so I’ll do things like taking my children or grandchildren on business trips around the world." 

5. Margery Kraus

"You have to be a little fearless. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. There are lots of ups and downs and the ladders of success don’t always stretch upwards. Stamina is important and it’s a good thing to be stubborn." 

6. Louisa Mojela, founder, group CEO and chairperson of Wiphold

"Passion alone can not take you to the finishing line, it's also about perseverance, determination, commitment to the vision. Do not take short cuts because these will only provide you with short term gains instead of long term gains that will be sustainable. Finally make sure your strategy can withstand any stormy weather." 

7. Louisa Mojela 

"If you have a dream or vision, follow it passionately, believe in it and know that there are potential pitfalls ahead, but a stumble is not a fall - it's a caution to revaluate the strategy." 

8. Basetsana Kumalo, executive chairwoman and CEO of Basetsana Women Investment Holdings and owner of Connect TV

"When women collaborate, my goodness, great and magical things happen." 

9. Ipeleng Mkhari, founder and CEO of Motseng Investment Holdings

"I think confidence plays a huge role in young people’s lives today. People work with people who they believe have a sense of confidence in themselves. But then it’s also got to be matched with proper planning." (Quote taken from EWN in an interview with Nikiwe Bikitsha.)

10. Margrit Wolff, CEO of Mercury Freight

"Do not give up - I believe that every opportunity is there for female entrepreneurs. Banks are amicable and there is lots of other types of finance available. Be professional, present as a professional and get on with it. Make sure you know the industry you have chosen very well and believe yourself to be the best in that field and to know your market and their needs." 

11. Johanna Mukoki, Group CEO of Travel With Flair

"Always ask for feedback when you are unsuccessful with a pitch, or even a job interview. This gives you the opportunity to improve on yourself and you will know your areas that need improvement. Secondly, if you can think it, you must believe that you can do it!" 

Lift other women up as you rise
Judy Dlamini

A few more highlights from a conference to help advance women

Standard Bank recently held their annual Top Women Awards as part of gender empowerment. Here are some of their top speakers and businesswomen.

12. Judy Dlamini, executive chairman of the Mbekani Group

"Lift other women up as you rise." 

13. Margaret Hirsch, co-founder of Hirsch's

"We as women need to stop being consumers and start being creators." 

Wonderful meeting the amazing women from ABSA CIB #womensmonth

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14. Kate Moodley, author and franchise director of Discovery

"True growth doesn't emanate from a place of comfort." 

Moments captured

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15. Phuti Mahanyele, executive chairperson of Sigma Capital

"In order for women to be leaders, we need to be owners." 

#TopWomenConference ; Some of the speakers : #PhutiMahanyele #DrJudyDlamini . #WomenInLeadership #WomensMonth ??????

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