Copyright © 2022 Strategic African Women in Leadership
All rights reserved


A big hearty THANK YOU to all our members, the SAWIL team, our support and eco-system: the coaching partners, the inaugural SAWIL Trailblazers nominees, finalists, and winners, the 2021 SAWIL Trailblazers, nominees, finalists and winners.

And of course, my personal Advisory Board Members:

My mother, prayer warrior, confidant, and counsellor:  Rosemary

Chambe – Jairo.

My Business Advisors and Voice of Reason: Dr Claudelle Von Eck and Janine Hills.

My Business Partner, Friend and Sponsor: Guido Happe.

Thank you ALL for believing in this vision and walking this journey with me; this is a dream come true!

AND most importantly, I want to thank our CEO, Dr Tebogo Mashifana, for the intensive research provided in this Journal.

We dedicate this Journal to our readers, members, supporters and the

SAWIL community across Africa and the Diaspora.

Furthermore, to my number one cheerleaders: my late father, Rammunyane Mokhuoa, and my son (they could easily be the same person) – Dalitso Mokhuoa, and of course, all my family members and loved ones.


Here is to seven more years….and more…and more!


Section 1

About The Journal                                                                                             

Message from Seipati Mokhuoa – Executive Chairperson:                 

Strategic African Women in Leadership

International influence – Africa as part of the bigger picture           

– Seipati Mokhuoa.

Message from Dr Tebogo Mashifana – Chief Executive Officer:      

Strategic African Women in Leadership

About SAWIL                                                                                                         

Strategic Africa Women in Leadership (The birth and growth)

Meet the SAWIL Executive Team (2021)                                                     

Section 2 – Research report by Dr Tebogo Mashifana                          

African women in leadership and business                                               

Women population:                                                                                           




South Africa                                                                                                         


Women representation                                                                                     

Women in the labour force                                                                              

Women in legislation, senior officials, and management                  

Firms with female top managers                                                                  

Women in parliament                                                                                       

Section 3                                                                                                                 

SAWIL’s Vision 2030                                                                                         

SAWIL’s resolution                                                                                         

Interview with 2021 Top 10 Trailblazer Awards                                      


About The Journal

The Journal was launched on 27 November 2021, at the SAWIL Trailblazers Awards 2021. The “coffee table” book entails research conducted in Africa to study the state of women in leadership, management, and key decision-making roles. The Journal analysed women’s representation in different roles within the five regions SAWIL has its footprint. The five countries presented are Botswana, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda.

The Journal also presents, as a tool, that can be used by women to prepare themselves to serve in stock exchange-listed companies, some of the information such as qualifications one can pursue to serve on these boards, and the specific roles where there may be opportunities to serve.

With the challenges experienced by women in the continent, the Journal also presents SAWIL’s resolutions to address these challenges and in working towards SAWIL Vision 2030, which aims at contributing to at least 30% increase in women in key roles. The inspiring interviews with the 2021 Top 10 Trailblazers are also presented.

In this Journal, we explore the role of Gender Inequality in our lives, focusing on its influence in a work environment.  Before we present and discuss, in–depth, the lives and journeys of the successful careers of some of our pioneering women leaders in Africa.

Here’s where it all began…


“We do not have to be anything other than what and who we are; we are enough – and the world needs us as we are”

The year 2021 marked the seventh year of our existence as SAWIL. The number seven is one of the most significant in the Bible, and some scholars say it denotes completeness or perfection.

It was while I was doing my research for SAWIL and in trying to conjure up a mental picture about the state of women leaders in South Africa between March 2014 and 2015, when I realized that there aren’t enough stories out there detailing the struggles, the wins, the challenges as well as the realities most women face when climbing the corporate ladder. It dawned on me early in my career that, as women, we often encounter setbacks that transcend the workplace in our pursuit to shatter glass ceilings.

From this premise, I embarked on a journey to share my findings and started putting together a list of pioneering women whose stories I would share with the hope that others would find inspiration and the courage to stay their course and give their wildest dreams a fighting chance.

It took seven years to hone this “never-seen-before” body of work that I am about to share with you – I guess God had his plans; 2021 indeed was the year of completion.

Extract from the initial draft, which I began writing in 2014:

Part of my calling is to be a conduit of light and illuminate a sense of hope and belonging in this here life; I especially find joy and fulfilment in showing women their unique strengths, the power that lies in their beauty (inner and outer), self-worth, and value in life. We do not have to be anything other than what and who we are; we are enough – and the world needs us as we are. We can tap into the infinite feminine power we possess by first understanding that there is no life without us. Let that sink in!

It is concerning to me that women today, particularly in Africa, must still jump through a gazillion hoops to attain the most basic human rights such as access to water and sanitation, employment, equal pay, and other basic needs. Despite policies and resolutions, women continue to be victims of abuse, oppression, and unfair treatment within our societies.

As a Christian faithful, whenever I read Proverbs 31 about the

noble wife, I’d think: “WOW, what a masterpiece! “

Until one day in my mid-twenties, a little bulb came on in my head, and I realized I was juggling motherhood, being what I considered to be a “good wife” whilst holding a senior management role in a large multinational corporate company. It dawned on me that “Madam Proverbs 31” is no superwoman, nor a masterpiece for that matter, she is me – I am her. She is my mother, my sister, my neighbour, my girlfriend, my spiritual sister, my mentor, the pastor’s wife, my cousin, my female colleagues, and any woman who is not afraid to believe that she is more than capable of being and achieving anything she puts her mind to. Be it raising children, being a housewife, a CEO, a professional in a typically male-dominated industry or running a successful business – I mean anything at all.

The average man sings his minuscule achievement as ‘brilliant’. On the other hand, women tend to downplay themself as ordinary at every opportunity they get. This ‘modesty’ has not helped profile women (predominantly African) as the trailblazing powerhouses that we are.

Growing up in the dusty village of Thaba-Nchu, somewhere between Bloemfontein and Lesotho, I was just another shy dark-skinned, very skinny girl who loved and enjoyed her books. I was so reserved that the only way that my fellow pupils knew I existed was because I was academically gifted and highly competitive in all the sporting activities. I could be quiet and in my little corner, but when it was time to work and compete, I always came prepared and made sure that my peers felt my presence, and, of course, it was appreciated and applauded by the teachers. I guess, secretly, I have always loved the attention, and I knew how to get people to notice me. Isn’t that the way of life, in any case? There are two ways to make your presence felt/known (i) always be prepared and (ii) excel in what you do. There will always be someone watching, and very often that someone could be just the right person, at the right time for your life – perhaps the “powers that be” with the necessary influence to get you to the next level. You know the saying that: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” – Seneca.?

Like most of my peers, growing up in a village attending a government school where the annual school fee was R40 at its highest, and yet my late beloved father still “struggled” to pay in on time, I had a very decent upbringing. I didn’t lack much; in fact, I thought we had it pretty good. Unlike a typical village home, we had a tuckshop, a mini-farm, and my father was a local businessman selling livestock, chickens, maize meal, and vegetables to make a living and ensure that we had everything we needed. Prior to this, he held a managerial role with Southern Sun Hotels, Holiday Inn back in the 80s.

A trendsetter who was on his 19th car in his late 40s. Even today, most of my male cousins and the locals still reference him when they talk about inspiration and a role model.

My mother took up different kinds of hobbies throughout her life; at some point, she took up sewing lessons at Mmabana Centre in Thaba-Nchu. She turned one of the bedrooms into a clothing factory/shop where she designed and sold her clothing items. The business didn’t do so well, so she dropped it and went to Bloemfontein to work as a domestic worker, again.

A little less than a year after my father’s passing, she went back to school – and after completing her ABET (Adult Basic Education and Training), she got more involved with charity work through World Vision – a global evangelical Christian humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization that prefers to present itself as interdenominational and employs staff from non-evangelical Christian denominations. Founded in 1950 by Robert Pierce and active in more than 90 countries with a total revenue including grants, product, and foreign donations of USD 2.90 billion (2019). She did all this while still nursing her first love; doing the garden, farming, and harvesting. My mother has this natural nurturing spirit – the milk of human kindness; a trait I firmly believe I got from her. One example that comes to mind is how she would sometimes visit some of her siblings and find a plant that she had gifted them, dying. She would insist on taking it back to nurture it and bring it back to life, only for the owner to come back and reclaim it.

I grew up herding cattle, milking cows, doing the garden and occasionally, during harvest season, I would go to the farms or in winter when it was time for deforestation; like most children in our community, I would accompany my parents to assist them.

It was usually very far out, and we had to walk long distances to get to the farms or the forest. However, walking long distances was never a big deal; we did it going to school or during the weekends when soccer matches were between villages.

In 2002 I completed my matric with distinctions, which prompted my school principal Mr Kwababa and his wife to ensure that I get access to a university, and I needed to light up that torch and hold it as high as possible.

My father was so pleased with my results he’d often joke that with such results, I should go straight to a managerial role at Shoprite Thaba Nchu – stating that they’d be happy to hire me on the spot. Of course, I wasn’t about that life; I vehemently insisted on going to varsity. Now more than ever, I had to make it. I would be the first in the family to make it to university

I am forever grateful to my school principal and his wife for stepping in and ensuring that I, at the very least, register for a degree. The morning of the registration came, and my father woke me up very early, as usual, prepared water for me to bath, followed with porridge, better known as “motogo wa mabele”. He accompanied me to the gate and gave me some pocket money for lunch, and off I went with springs under my feet to go and chase my dreams.

I arrived in Thaba Nchu town very early only to find The Kwababas (the principal and his wife) enthusiastically waiting for me. They drove me to Bloemfontein to apply and register for my B. Comm “something”. I say something because, at the time, even I didn’t know what I wanted to study, all I knew was that everyone said I should pursue a degree that would ensure that I become a Chartered Accountant someday.

We hopped from the University of the Free State to Central University of Technology, formally known as Technikon Free State, searching for a suitable course. I ended up settling for an Internal Auditing Diploma because all the others were already full, and I wasn’t about to return home without some good news for my anxious parents.

I think that was my first time that side of town; before that, I had only been to Bloemfontein townships during the school holidays, visiting relatives and never got to see much of the city. It was quite an overwhelming day for me because I kept asking myself how I would survive crossing the road by myself once they left; there were so many cars and people everywhere. It was probably one of the most daunting experiences of my life, but as

always, I took on the challenge and embraced the new life.

The city life grew on me quicker than you can imagine.

I adapted so quickly that by the time I was doing my third year – Bloemfontein had become extremely small for me; I had bigger dreams but, most importantly, the determination to chase them with every ounce of my being. My parents didn’t always agree with my aggressive hunger for a better life.  However, they trusted me and supported my every move. I believe I was born independent, and it is engraved in my heart to be a fighter.

I thrive on challenges and make the most of the worst situations in life. Through these challenges, I discovered that I always come out stronger, lessons learned and always eager to share those lessons with others.

I left Bloemfontein end of 2005 after completing my reign as Miss Mangaung, a MACUFE beauty pageant that literally shrank the once-upon-a time intimidating big city for me.  I left to pursue the Johannesburg Corporate life whilst I study part-time and do modelling gigs on the side.

My first job was with a prominent bank as a teller in January 2006. I progressed so quickly in the bank that in 2008 I was the only junior staff member elected to represent the Home Loans department on the national Employment Equity (E.E.) Committee (which reported directly to the Bank’s Board) with some of the bank’s heavyweights. That’s where I first got a glimpse of how corporate South Africa is set up.

In 2009 I was head-hunted by a major multinational financial services giant. After eleven months with them, a managerial role came knocking at my door (well, booth), and my journey with my true passion: LEADERSHIP, began.

I didn’t know I could lead until I was in that position, and my perspective and view of life changed completely; this was a paradigm shift.

You start seeing the world through others but still depend on your intuition to lead and make decisions that will affect not only your livelihood and the lives of those you lead but the success of the organization you work for as well – this, in the bigger scheme of things, means a much greater responsibility if you think about it.

No matter how small, teams impact the organization’s overall strategy and results; the results then influence the country’s economy. Taking up such a role immediately after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was a mammoth task, but as always, I was up for it. And to this day, it is still paying off! The lessons and experience

I drew from my first leadership role at the age of 24 was by far the best university I could’ve ever asked for. What followed then was a similarly challenging journey of paddling for the C-suite in Corporate South Africa, a journey that has led me here!

Having walked a few miles in these shoes, I know with certainty that women are capable and deserve far better than what this world has subjected us to. In some countries, women are still considered and treated like second class citizens. I am genuinely grateful for Africa’s progress and the effort from some of our governments to ensure that transformation takes place.

Although there are existing policies to address the issue of “Gender Inequality through Transformation”, women in Africa still struggle more than their male counterparts to make Executive/Top Management Level in most organizations.  As you will learn in the research report later, it is disheartening that in some cases, not even governments have managed to achieve the 50% representation of women in decision making roles in parliament.

On the other hand, companies ought to face the challenge of ensuring quality women leadership versus quantity; this is certainly not just another numbers game – it is critical to ensure that the right person holds the correct position in an organization. After all, the success of every business lies in the hands of its leadership.

I must acknowledge all the councils and associations in Africa and abroad that provide platforms for women to be empowered, taught, trained, enabled, and given the necessary skills and exposure to succeed in business, leadership, corporate or government. These organizations have encouraged us to come together as women to plan, participate, negotiate, direct, and

ensure that we are present in the different business sectors in our respective countries.

I have always known and said jokingly to those close to me that I will write a book one day. At the time, I was under the impression that it would be a book about my life, the arduous journey travelled, and how I overcame some of the most disheartening challenges any ambitious village girl could probably come across to get to where I am today. Yet, I never imagined I would write a book on leadership, inspiration, and women empowerment.

Early 2014, I started an organization called SAWIL Solutions – aiming to be the glue between government, the private sector, and women in leadership.

After conducting extensive research, I realized that the gap/lack of Women in Leadership would not be addressed by policies alone. Companies are not just going to start promoting all their female employees to leadership roles to meet the set numbers, especially top management roles. Most companies feel that this would be beyond risky and could be detrimental to the growth or even just the survival of their organizations. Out of these findings, I made it my mission to bridge this gap, hence the birth of SAWIL.

We strongly believe that we have the solution and not just a solution, but one that, if applied correctly, can be beneficial for all parties involved and change the face of Corporate Africa for good, thus making it the benchmark for diversity and inclusion.

My career life has been one that is full of adventure, curveballs, deep waters, unexpected turns, sacrifices, betrayals and sometimes even ‘blood, sweat and tears’ – all to climb the corporate ladder and shatter the glass ceiling, one ceiling at a time. Like the women in this Journal, I have had the highest highs and the lowest lows on this beautiful, and yet daunting, journey of demanding our rightful place in corporate and society at large.

This Journal is my small contribution to your journey, the purpose of which is to encourage you to stay the course as you paddle your way to that corner office. I hope the voices of these trailblazing pioneers will spark a light in your life and invigorate a desire in you to dream, learn, fight, stand up, and be counted. The intention is to spark a conversation, ignite passion, and give hope through the stories and biographies of these women, who still made it to the top despite having faced many challenges. I want to encourage you to fight for YOUR top. These are just a few women of my choice; I know more women out there have earned their stripes as well, but let these few stories fuel you with hope and courage to go out there and fight for an equal society for all.

…..The End!….

International influence – Africa as part of the bigger picture By Seipati Mokhuoa

“The general belief in Africa is that a woman’s place is in her husband’s home, and she can’t be useful in any other place but there. Women and girls are Africa’s greatest untapped resource, and it is they, not diamonds or oil and minerals, who will be the foundation for solid, sustainable, and equitable progress. Health and development experts, economists, non- governmental organizations, U.N. agencies  and even banks agree that expanding the freedoms, education and opportunities for  women holds the      key to kick-starting inclusive economic growth – this is true the world over, and particularly true for Africa. Source: registration

Gender inequality in the workplace, home, and society is still a considerable concern in Africa and worldwide.

It is a global phenomenon that Hillary Clinton spoke about on September 5, 1995, at the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference in her speech titled: Women’s Rights are Human Rights, held in Beijing. It is the very issue that Michelle Obama sought to tackle with due diligence, both in and for her country and globally. The late Maya Angelou addressed it in writing and her impeccable speeches as far back as her alliance with the late Martin Luther King. The legendary queen of television and philanthropist of note, Miss Oprah Winfrey, has been driving and changing the narrative for three decades. The very objective that Sheryl Sandberg, the then COO of FACEBOOK, had in mind when she wrote her book “Lean In” and actively started global campaigns to bring about awareness, encourage and empower women to strive for Top Management Positions.

Let us look at what and how these legendary well- known, and internationally influential women have each, in their respective way, contributed towards the Gender Equality agenda.

Hilary Clinton:

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is a former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States. From 2009 to 2013, she was the 67th Secretary of State, under President Barack Obama

Clinton’s long-term commitment to the cause of women led her to create the position of the United States Ambassador at large for global women’s issues at the beginning of her term as

U.S. Secretary of State in 2009. The office aimed to ensure that women’s issues were fully integrated into the formulation and conduct of U.S. Foreign policy.

“Hilary Clinton has been superb in shining a global spotlight on women’s rights and Empowerment” – New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof.

In her 2011 speech for the Asian –Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Women & Economy Summit, Clinton made the global business case for women calling them “a vital source of growth that can power our economies in the decades to come.“ When it comes to the enormous challenge of our time to systematically and relentlessly pursue more economic opportunity in our land – we don’t have a person to waste, and we certainly don’t have a gender to waste, “Clinton Said.

She went on to urge Policymakers to take concrete steps to “successfully eliminate barriers and bring women into all our economic sectors” Clinton seemed to be adding to her infamous “women’s rights are human rights” argument, this time, attempting to educate the world that economically empowering women will benefit everyone, including men.

Clinton has championed women’s issues globally and broken- down barriers when it comes to women and leadership. According to Nichola Gutgold, Author of “Almost Madam President: Why Hillary Clinton “WON” in 2008. Gutgold says Clinton has been a “spectacular role model for women both in her position as secretary of the state and in her bid for the white house in 2008.

“Women are the world’s most underused resource. “ – Hillary Rodham Clinton

Michelle Obama

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is an American lawyer and writer. She is the wife of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the first African American First Lady of the United States.

On March 04, 2014, she joined deputy secretary of State Heather Higginbottom at the Department of State to honour recipients of the International Women of Courage Award. The First Lady said:

“This is the 6th time that I’ve had the pleasure of attending this event, and it is one of the highlights of my year because I always walk away feeling inspired by these women, determined to reflect their courage in my own life. And I know I am not alone in that feeling because every day, with every life they touch and every spirit they raise, these women are creating ripples that stretch across the globe. “

{The Award annually recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at significant personal risk. Since the inception of the Award in 2007, The Department of State has honoured more than 70 women from 49 different countries} Source – The Whitehouse Blog.

“When we see these women raise their voices and more their feet and empower others to create change, we need to realize that each of us has the same power and that same obligation” the First Lady added.

…the idea that a girl in Daker shares the same hopes and dreams as a girl from Fiji or Ukraine or Southside Chicago – that reminds us that we are never alone in our struggles. “

The Late Maya Angelou

Born Marguerite Annie Johnson; (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author, poet, dancer, actress and singer. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees.

Maya Angelou’s Advice to Young Women seeking power –

Karin Camp, the story exchange

“I think women have to develop courage. You are not born with courage, but you develop it. Try to develop your courage with smaller things. If someone wants to pick 100lbs, they start by picking 5lbs and then build up their muscles. It’s the same with courage. One way to develop courage is not to entertain a company that debase you. Don’t laugh at someone who is laughing at you or putting you down. Take offence. When someone says, “I hope you won’t be offended”, then you probably will be.

Whether you are Black, Asian, White, or any race, don’t let pejoratives be used around you; just leave. Otherwise, you will have participated in bringing someone else down. You don’t need to say why you are leaving – say you’re on your way to Bangkok or something.

Do little things that make you proud of yourself. If you want to cook, then cook. If you’re going to start exercising, don’t try to walk 10 miles; walk three blocks. If you want to read, take the time to do so. If you’re going to learn a new language, get a book or audio cassette to help you. No one must know or see what you are doing. You will like yourself more when you have a few victories under your belt.

Once you have a few victories under your belt, you will realize that you are worth it. That’s how you become powerful, by building yourself up through small victories. “

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist.

Rags to riches story – often described as one of history’s most powerful women.

She is the most influential and successful woman in media. Oprah uses her position to inspire, educate and empower people from all walks of life – worldwide. No one recognizes Oprah and does not know that she stands

…for reaching out and helping others – particularly women and children. Through her foundations, she has supported countless programs in and around the world that encourage people to make a difference in the lives of others less fortunate than them.

To date, the Oprah’s Angel Network has raised more than $80 million to help educate and empower women and children to believe in themselves, to support people around the globe in pursuing their dreams, and to provide those who are underprivileged and underserved with means and education to reach their potential. In addition, she has developed programs in Africa for girls, for the violated, and for those who have AIDS.

In 2007, she opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for girls in South Africa. Her goal is to educate and empower a new generation of women to help lead Sub-Saharan Africa towards peace and economic prosperity, and to that end, Oprah herself hand-picked the students – all girls who exhibit leadership skills and a track record of helping others. She knows from her own experience of growing up poor that an investment in girls can pay off in ways never imagined.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Kara Sandberg, COO of FACEBOOK (Now META platforms), activist and founder of, and author of the book “lean in”.

In her book “Lean In”, Sheryl examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers solutions to empower women to reach their full potential. She digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, complex data, and compelling research with cutting through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women.

“It has been more than two decades since I entered the workforce, and so much is still the same.  It is time for us to face the fact that our revolution has stalled. The promise of equality is not the same as true equality.  A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies, and men ran half our homes.

I believe that this would be a better world. The laws of economics and many diversity studies tell us that if we tapped the entire pool of human resources and talent, our collective performance would improve.

Women face natural obstacles in the professional world, including blatant and subtle sexism, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Too few workplaces offer flexibility and access to childcare and parental leave necessary for pursuing a career while raising children. Men have an easier time finding mentors and sponsors who are invaluable for career progression. Plus, women must prove themselves to a far greater extent than men do. And this is not just in our heads. A 2011 McKinsey report noted that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on past accomplishments.”

South Africa being our home and foundation; these are the pioneers from whom we draw strength.

Over and above everything that we are and stand for as SAWIL, we also strive to embody what women are capable of, have always been and will always be. The trailblazing pioneers we celebrate annually and who will from now feature in this Journal are products of the hardships that many women “firsts” have endured over the years to demonstrate to society that women are not “LESS THAN”. That, in effect, WE ARE MORE THAN the average human.

These heroines set the tone, creating a platform to dream and aspire to do great.

  • Charlotte Maxeke – The first female to earn a bachelor’s degree – 1905
  • Cecilia Makiwane – The first black woman to register as a

professional nurse

  • Mariam Makeba – The first South African and African female to win a Grammy
  • Mary Malahlela – The first female black doctor
  • Patricia Jobodwana – The youngest black woman to enrol

at a university, aged 14, for a degree in medicine.

  • Zainunnisa Cissi Gool – The first president – national liberation league – 1938

These women are ordinary, just like you and me; the only difference is that they did great and extra-ordinary things. They were amongst the first women to show the world that it can be done, that women are very much equal and more than capable of doing the very things that culture has taught us to believe we are incapable of doing.

Sheryl also started an organization called Leanin.Org, which its primary focus is to assist and empower women with resources, motivation, and the encouragement they need to lean in, which is done through lean in groups/circles, events, and educational & corporate partnerships.

Prior to her writing the book “The business manual of the year” by The Times, she was giving a Ted Talk titled “Why we have too few women leaders” which is said to have had more than 2 million hits in 2010.

Sheryl Sandberg is the perfect example of what we need to do as women. We need to take action. To hold strategic conversations about creating a better world where we can equally be represented. It is easier to blame organizations and men for inequality, but history has proven that a lot has been done to give us the opportunities we desire. Some women fought, got physically hurt, and died while fighting for equality. It would be a disgrace to those heroines if we were to sit back and do nothing about the current disturbing numbers, and more so, the fact that most women in our country, and our African continent, still do not have it equal as men do.

Education alone is not enough; we ought to have the same spirit that the women of 1956 had. Africa desperately needs agents of change, men and women who will pursue what is right. We need men and women who will use their power and leadership influence to carry on their broad shoulders the legacy of a continent that belongs to all those who live in it. Where are the men and women who will shamelessly embrace EQUALITY and be willing to put in the work and effort necessary to challenge and eradicate the sad culture of treating women and children as second-class citizens in this continent.

If this was the attitude of women in the early 1900s, with no technology, not as much information as we have, and certainly not as knowledgeable and liberated as (we think) we are, then what is stopping us? Can we still blame men and organizations for our lack of progress? One of the very things I discovered while I was researching SAWIL as a business concept is that the rate at which women pursue careers that were previously known to be marked for men has gone up, but for some reason, women still don’t make it all the way to the top.

We have young girls who finish high school with such zeal and want to be the new “firsts”, but that zeal is not sustained because they are not supported enough in comparison to their male counterparts. The lack of mentorship plays a huge factor, leading to most young women either leaving their careers or just settling for middle management and supervisory roles. Roles that are slightly convenient and can easily be juggled with running a household full-time, because naturally, we still feel obligated to play a more significant role at home than at work.

The difference between men and us is that men support one another, women on the other hand, tend to loath their fellow female species. We have even named this kind of behaviour – yes, I am talking about the widespread disease that has overtaken women of the 21st century, “The Pull Her Down Syndrome”. Women of today are more likely to be excited about being “the only female” in a firm or boardroom.

I remember attending a women’s function in august 2014, and Gerry Eldson was giving a talk; she touched on this issue of women bringing each other down all the time. One woman in the audience raised her hand and boldly told us that she sits on nine boards, and she was okay with that because it makes her feel really good and special, because to her that is an achievement, and she preferred it that way.

She openly declared that before attending this talk, she preferred working with men and would not go out of her way to uplift a sister, but now that Gerry had put it into perspective

– she was more likely to do things differently. My question is, how many women are out there that still prefer being the only lady in the office? Surprisingly enough, there are quite a lot. But not all is lost. We can change that mentality and overcome the many stereotypes that hinder women from making it to the top.

When I wrote this in 2014, I vouched to be the change I wanted to see, seven years later – I can boldly say that we are that change.

In conclusion, I have been asked on numerous occasions if I am Ghanaian or have Ghanaian roots because of the name Asante. Well, even though SAWIL was registered in 2014 and started operating immediately, it was only after I left corporate in November 2018 to work on it full-time that it grew exponentially. Having understood the assignment and what lay ahead, I needed inspiration and a symbol that was bigger than myself to forge forward.

While most people recognize that giving a name to a child is a significant social function with profound and lifelong consequences, most of our African parents have the tradition of naming children after those who have come before us. If not, just a random name that makes no sense at all will do. In 2018, I asked my mother if there was any significant meaning behind my name. Whom was I named after? What was the person like? And what did she stand for? Her response left me floored and even more disappointed with my name.

She told me I was named after some lady from my father’s side who apparently loved sitting on the veranda with her husband while sipping tea and doing some serious people-watching (I kid you not). I knew there and then that I needed to do something.

Meet my inspiration, Queen Yaa Asantewaa

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Image: public domain

I, of course, prayed about it and sought guidance, and that’s how the name Asante came about. I proceeded to Google to check its meaning. In Swahili; Africa’s most widely spoken language, Asante means “thank you”. As if that was not enough confirmation, I learned that the Ashanti people of Ghana had a queen mother named queen Yaa Asantewaa. Of all the things that stood out about this name and the queen herself, this is the confirmation that I needed to know it was ordained.

Yaa Asantewaa was an influential Ashanti queen at the beginning of the twentieth century who remains a powerful symbol today. Her birthdate is contested; she is generally believed to be born between the 1840s to 1860s in the Ashanti Confederacy in present-day Ghana. She was a skilled farmer before ascending to the title Queen Mother in the 1880s. It is believed that she was chosen for this title due to the matrilineal aspect of the Ashanti culture and that her elder brother Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpase, who was a powerful ruler at the time, appointed her to the role.

As the Queen Mother, Asantewaa held many responsibilities, including being the Gatekeeper of the Golden Stool. The Golden Stool is an emblem of the Ashanti kingdom, cultural system, and power. Since the Queen Mother is elected to be the mother of the reigning king, she presents candidates for when the occupant of the Stool (the chiefdom) becomes vacant, in turn protecting the establishment of authority. Additionally, since the Queen Mother is the main adviser for the King, and thus is the second highest position within the empire, she fulfills the role of guarding the Golden Stool.

In  1896,  the  Ashanti   peoples   began   to   rebel   against the British presence in their lands and the British attempt to construct the “Gold Coast” colony. To retaliate, the British captured and exiled Asantehene Prempeh I, King of the Ashanti, and Asantewaa’s grandson Kofi Tene, who was also a powerful leader.

The British removed the king and other Ashanti leaders to the Seychelles Islands in an effort to acquire the Golden Stool. While remaining leaders within the community debated on how to best respond to the British threat, Asantewaa held her ground and rallied the troops. Her leadership and passion led to her role as Commander in Chief of the Ashanti army.  In turn, the Anglo-Ashanti wars’ fifth and final war against the British became   known as      the Yaa Asantewaa War of Independence (or the War of the Golden Stool), which began on March 28, 1900.

That conflict began when British representative Sr. Frederick Mitchell Hodgson sat on the Golden Stool. Since the Stool was not a throne, when Hodgson’s act became known, Yaa Asantewaa led the rebellion which resulted in the death of 1,000 British and allied African soldiers and 2,000 Ashanti.

Both totals were higher that the deaths from all previous wars between the Ashanti and the British combined.

To inspire the leaders of her community, Asantewaa proclaimed that if the men of the kingdom would not defend the people, then the women would rise to the challenge. This both invigorated the men and challenged traditional gender roles. She led the rebellion and became an image of strength and resistance. Unfortunately, she was captured during the rebellion and exiled to Seychelles, where she died in 1921.

Yaa Asantewaa remains a powerful reminder due to her impactful actions in both empowering her people and in tactics against the British army.

In August 2000, to commemorate her influence, a museum was opened in her honor in the Ejisu-Juaben District of Ghana. Similarly, there is an achievement award titled the “Nana Yaa Asantewaa Awards” (NYA) which honors women who uphold the values and leadership of Asantewaa.

Source: Yaa Asantewaa (mid-1800s-1921) • (


Since    joining    SAWIL   as    the   CEO    in   March    2021, I    have experienced yet again how fulfilling it is to serve humanity. When we gathered as women at the beginning of 2021 and sat down in the virtual room to draft SAWIL’s strategy for 2021, I never expected to see the success and manifestation I have seen. This confirmed one thing to me, women have always been ready to write their own stories and change their trajectory. We live in a world where most of the population are women, but those who have the privilege to make decisions that affect women are men. Through serving at SAWIL, I have had the firsthand experience of how as women, we can no longer depend on any other person for our voices to be heard.

The inequalities, injustice, discrimination against women because of their gender can no longer be ignored. The change that is required is a change that should be implemented by women, because they experience these injustices. SAWIL’s vision 2030 to be a vehicle to contribute to increasing the number of women in leadership, management, and key decision-making role to at least 30%, is something commendable. The programmes and strategies SAWIL have implemented in 2021 to ensure that women are empowered and provided with the adequate tools to excel in their roles as leaders is a beautiful story to tell.

SAWIL’s growth from Southern Africa to five regions in the African continent, in less than six months, is a success story to be shared to the generation to come. I am hopeful that the seed that has been planted throughout Africa will germinate and produce the fruits that will last, to impact even the generations to come.

To all the women who continue to assume a position of a role model, the encourager, those who inspire other women, the women who lift as they rise, thank you for your sacrifices.

Thank you for ensuring that those that come after you should not experience the injustice you have experienced, thank you for being the hope in so many hopeless situations.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as SAWIL CEO in 2021, and most importantly, honoured to have met so many phenomenal women who in their environment are doing all they can to rewrite the story of women in the world.

Women we have been entrusted with so much, to change the work. The one who entrust us, has given us the ability.

The End.


Who is SAWIL?

SAWIL was established in 2014 by Seipati Mokhuoa as a proudly South African Women in Leadership organization serving women leaders in corporate South Africa. We later took a bold and vital decision in 2019 to expand to the SADC region as Southern African Women in Leadership. The rapid growth we enjoyed in the SADC region informed our decision to extend our offering to the rest of Africa in 2021 as proudly Strategic African Women in Leadership. The common thread that holds us together and essentially informs our mission and vision is to see more African Women take their rightful place as leaders and economic powerhouses in our continent.

SAWIL is a vehicle for women leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in Africa seeking to advance their careers through leadership training, executive coaching, entrepreneurship training, masterclasses, board training, mentorship, and networking. With the sole objective of transforming and diversifying the composition of leadership, particularly in the private sector, our goal is to bring a more strategic approach towards women’s development and empowerment.

We have over the years honed practical and tested strategies that enable companies to engage, reconsider, take on a different leadership transformation approach, and prioritize gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.

We at SAWIL firmly attribute and draw our inspiration from (amongst other factors) the women of 1956 in South Africa who marched together to the Union Buildings from all walks of life, not defined by race/religion/culture but one common agenda: Transformation and Inclusion. Together with our members, stakeholders, and partners, our collective vision is to accelerate inspired, head and heart leadership pioneers.

SAWIL began the process of putting in place, an organizational structure needed for the expansion, and I was appointed in the role of Executive Director: Africa, with a mandate to craft and lead the implementation of the continental expansion strategy. The announcement of our expansion to the rest of Africa was made in conjunction with the commemoration of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021, and that was when the grinding began.

When presented with the opportunity to be at the helm of decision-making platforms in their respective economies, these pioneering women will step up and ensure equality, equity, and access to better living conditions for all Africans regardless of race/religion/culture, or background.

Mission statement

We are raising Africa’s leadership level through education, training, coaching, mentorship, and our global board training programs and producing the most sought-after talent pool of women leaders, professionals, and entrepreneurs from Africa. Vision statement

To be a leading world-class example of what women can accomplish when given equal opportunities to lead! We aim to be the preferred platform where African women unite, collaborate, and partner to build our continent in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, African Union’s Agenda 2063, and our very own SAWIL Vision 2030.


 Learn what   serving   at   SAWIL   meant   for   some   of   our dedicated team members on the ground.

Moloko Komane, on her role as Executive Director (Africa): Strategic African Women in Leadership.

Prior    to    March    2021, the    Strategic    African    Women    in Leadership (SAWIL) was called the Southern African Women in Leadership as the organization was operating only in the SADAC region countries. A decision was made by the SAWIL Executive team at the start of the Year 2021, to expand the SAWIL footprint to the rest of the African continent; to enable the organization to achieve its vision of increasing the representation of Woman CEOs and Board Members across the African continent and the Diaspora Communities to 30% by the year 2030.

The first task was to mobilize like-minded women from across different African countries and the Diaspora community, to join forces with SAWIL to create the Africa that we want to see. I was very fortunate in that collectively, the existing SAWIL leadership team had a rich network of powerful women from across the continent; we were sitting on gold. We reached out to our associates from multiple countries to inform them of the work that SAWIL did in SADAC at the time, and the desire to accelerate growth by extending the work to their respective countries.

It was no surprise to me at all, that the women we reached out to, shared the sentiment of SAWIL team, and were keen to jump on board because they too were looking for opportunities to make a positive impact in the lives on women in their countries. They saw SAWIL as the vehicle that they could use to contribute.

With a solid foundation already established in Southern Africa, we expanded to Nigeria, Cameroon, and Uganda, and established Country offices and Chapters in SADC ; under the leadership of Nollie Maoto, Karika Yonreme, Marie-Rose Daya, Susan Kayemba, and Kuda Tshiamo Kgati respectively.

Furthermore, the awareness of the SAWIL Brand has gone beyond the borders of our operating countries – it extends to Tanzania and Zambia, with the help of Rosemary Chambe – Jairo and Mizinga Melu respectively; and to many more countries as this was evident from the nominations received for the SAWIL Trailblazers Awards 2021.

Nominations were sent from 15 African countries and from across the globe through the Diaspora community of women living in the UK and the USA, who regard Africa as their home.

We’ve spent the last nine months working on the implementation of a Group Strategy that is suitable for a diverse continent, that sits on three pillars: 1) Women Leadership (from middle management to C-Suite / Board Seats and anything in between); 2) Entrepreneurship to assist in increasing participation of women in the economy; and 3) Professionals in male dominated roles to connect with other women in similar roles.

Where do we go from here?

Well, we continue working towards achieving the SAWIL Vision 2030. Rome was not built in one day, but the work that was done each day contributed to the overall results and created an Empire that went into the history books as one of the largest empires in human history.

One person cannot change the world alone however, if we each help one person, we will collectively help the masses and contribute towards creating an Africa that we want to see, where Women participated in economies of their respective countries and well represented in Leadership, Business Ownerships, and professional roles that were previously male dominated. Changing the narrative, one woman at a time!

Executive Head: Communication: Thuli Zulu

It is an honour to serve in the Executive as a Communications Head for the Strategic Women in Leadership. Sweat equity truly pays off and seeing this seed germinate every year leaves me astounded. This is an organization that appeals both to the intellectual and visceral African woman. We have had our 2021 Lean in sessions which have been engaging and so inspiring. The Board Academy Training has given practical tools for the SAWIL women who intend to sit on boards. To end the year off on a high note is the unveiling of the Journal which brings insights on women in management and leadership in Africa. There are women organizations and then there is SAWIL!!!

Executive Head: Events and Conferencing: Matshego Njumbuxa

My biggest highlight of being part of SAWIL is serving with like-minded women. Whose sole mandate is to ensure the empowerment of women, young and old in the African region. These women are groundbreakers, respectively in their own rights and it has been an absolute honor to sit at their feet and squeeze every bit of knowledge from them.

Country Head: South Africa, Nollie Maoto

One of the biggest highlights of serving at SAWIL in 2021 was the establishment of the SAWIL monthly meet-up Lean-in- circles which started in May this year.

The firmness of purpose of these monthly engagements with SAWIL members is to meet regularly to bolster one another, discuss relevant topics, learn, and acquire new skills by imparting defined and distinguished thought leadership

These sessions feature guest speakers on a regular basis who amass a wealth of knowledge and experience to the audience. This is a space where women can be exacting and amplify their voices.

Country Head: Botswana, Kuda-Tshiamo Kgati

The most outstanding highlight has been engaging with and learning from other phenomenal and outstanding women not only from the African continent but around the globe. The conversations have always left me energized and fulfilled to want to spread the SAWIL mandate and objectives to other women. All women deserve to experience SAWIL. Being a SAWIL member has also unlocked opportunities I didn’t have access to before.

Country Head: Cameroon, Marie-Rose DAYA

2021 has been full of learnings, trainings, meeting amazing powerful Ladies in and outside SAWIL across the continent and serving other Ladies especially in Cameroon. The Cameroon members community created in such a short timeframe with diversified profiles demonstrates how SAWIL is answering to yesterday, today, and tomorrow needs and expectations on both professional and personal aspects. Am very honored to apply my servant leadership to serve and uplift my African younger sisters and some of the fruits are already seen out there. Looking at 2022 I am already very excited as there is a lot coming ahead.

Country Head: Uganda, Susan Kayemba

Organizing the first Uganda lean-in-circle. This event filled me with pride as I interviewed the formidable Gerry Opoka, CEO and founder of Soul foundation. It was inspiring to see someone find purpose from being passionate about dance to using dance as a vehicle to create awareness on mental health.

Chapter Leader: Johannesburg, Ncumisa Hlapo

My biggest highlight of serving in SAWIL is witnessing the impact that this organization has on women. Not only to its members but to those serving in the organization as well. I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to work that has dramatically changed my life and helped me locate my power and my voice.

Section 2 – Research report by Dr Tebogo Mashifana –


Dr Mashifana is, amongst other things, a researcher who has published eight peer-reviewed journal articles in 2021, with some of the articles published in high-impact journals. Her roles include but are not limited to: HOD: Dept. of Chemical Engineering at the University of Johannesburg and Senior Lecturer.

African women in leadership and business.

Women representation in key Leadership roles within the five

regions where SAWIL has a footprint.

Women population:

  • Botswana
  • Cameroon
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Uganda

Women representation:

  • Women in the labor force.
  • Women in legislation, senior officials, and management.
  • Firms with female top managers
  • Women in parliament

•       What does it take to serve in stock exchange listed companies?


Africa is one of the frontiers for businesses looking for new markets and growth. It has one of the fastest-growing economies. According to World Economic Forum (WEF), Africa’s urban population is predicted to drastically increase and triple to 1.34 billion by 2050 (WEF, 2020). There are more than 50% of women in the African continent combined population, with only 33% collective GDP generated in 2018 (Moodley et al., 2019). Women in the continent are not represented in crucial decision-making and high positions and are not participants in Africa’s journey to prosperity. Gender inequality in almost all industries is the reality in the continent. Women are still lagging men in the workplaces, leadership roles, society and pay scales, etc. Any advances in women’s equality to match the country could see a country making 10% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Moodley et al., 2019). Even though there is still considerable effort to be made to narrow the parities in the continent, there are countries making strides for women in the society and workplace.

Figure 1. Countries with solid progress towards parity in the society and workplace (Moodley et al., 2019).

Rwanda has tripled the presentation of women in middle management positions, Figure 1. Botswana has reduced its maternal mortality by 58%. Countries such as Guinea, Egypt, and Liberia have increased their scores on the legal protection of women.

There is change happening, but it’s not happening fast enough. In the meantime, what women have to do is grin and bear the challenges they face.” Ndidi Nwuneli.

For total board membership, women accounted for only 14% within 307 top companies in Africa, Figure 2. A number that does not even begin to scratch the surface. There are drastic and urgent measures and strategies that leaders in the continent and all sectors should implement to address the gender gap and inequality. It has been reported that it will take the continent 142 years to reach gender parity at the current pace (Moodley et al., 2019). This means many of the currently living population will not have the opportunity to witness this transformation.

Figure 2. Highest % of women board members in Africa.

Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia, and Botswana are some of the countries with a high % of women board members (Moodley et al., 2019). Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and Côte d’Ivoire are among the countries with the lowest women representation as board members. Companies should be intentional about increasing women at all levels, more especially in the decision-making roles.

The continent’s progress towards gender equality at work is presented by using Gender Parity Score (GPS) weights in Figure 3. GPS is a calculation of an aggregate measuring how close women at to gender parity. 1.00 shows parity; while a score of 0.95, shows that a country has 5% toward attaining parity (Moodley et al., 2019). For low, medium, high, and extreme high inequality, the indicators should be 5% within parity, 5-25 % within parity, 25-50%, and greater than 50%, respectively.

Leadership positions



Professional and technical jobs




Formal employment


Labour-force participation rate



Africa    World

0       0.1     0.2     0.3     0.4    0.5     0.6     0.7     0.8     0.9      1

Figure 3. Africa’s progress towards gender equality at work

(Moodley et al., 2019).

In 2019, there were 25% and 25% representation of women in top leadership roles in boards and executive committees in Africa. Women’s presentation in leadership roles is extremely low in Africa when compared to the rest of the world, with the GPS of 0.33, showing high inequality.

Women representation in key Leadership roles within the five regions where SAWIL has a footprint

Currently, SAWIL is serving and has a footprint in five regions in Africa thus in Botswana, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. Although women represent almost 50% and just above half of the population in these countries, they are still underrepresented in decision-making, leadership, and executive positions. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, women must participate in political, leadership, and public life.

The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report released in March 2021, has reported a persistent lack of women in leadership, with women only representing 27% of all managerial positions (WEF, 2021).

Women population:


Botswana has a population of about 2,415,862, with a current women population of 49.5%. Only 10.8 % of women occupy 7 /65 of lower  or  single  house  seats  in  the  parliament  (Inter-Parliament Union).


The population of Cameroon is about 27,441,030, with 50.1% being women. In Cameroon, women in parliament occupy 61 / 180 for a lower or single house (34%) and 26 / 100 in upper houses and Senate (26%).


As     of     November     2021, Nigeria     had     a     population     of approximately 213,061,102, and about 2.6% of the world’s population (Worldometer, 2021). According to the World bank, in 2020, 49.3% of the population were women. The analyses from 30 major corporates in Nigeria have shown that Nigeria is doing better than the global average in the participation of women in the workforce, however, only 20% of women occupy the executive positions as CEO or chairpersons of boards (IFC, 2021).

There is 33% of women in the workforce, indicating that Nigeria is lagging 4% when compared to the global 37% of women in the workforce.

As of 1 September 2021, only 25.6% of the total parliamentary seats were occupied by women, worldwide.  The data presented by UN Women: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women for January 2021 shows that in Nigeria, only 13 / 360 (3.6 % lower or single house) and 8/109 (7.3 % upper houses and Senate) seats in the parliament are occupied by women, respectively.


Uganda has a population of 47,696,131. 50% of the population are women. Women in parliament in Uganda occupy 160 / 459 in a lower or single house (35%) and no data was reported for upper houses and Senate4.


Women in the labor force

There is a significant number of women participating in the labor force as presented in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Labor force participation rate % (WEF Gender Report, 2021).

From the regions evaluated, Botswana and Uganda show just above 68% women participation. In Nigeria, the rate of women participating is still below 50%. Cameroon has a 72.1% women participation rate, while South Africa is just above 50%, at 54.1 %. Comparing these figures in all the countries with male participation rates, the rate was higher. This also shows that before women can occupy leadership positions, there is also a challenge that needs to be addressed to make sure women participate in the workforce, especially because women have shown to be a majority in all these countries.


Women in legislation, senior officials, and management

In some of the key roles such as in legislation, senior officials, and managers, women’s representation is far below 50%, Figure 5.

Figure 5. Legislators, senior officials, and managers (WEF Gender Report, 2021).

This is evident in Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda, where women in these roles account for 30.2 to 31.8. Only Botswana showed a significant improvement in the number of women in these key roles, accounting for more than 50%, and Cameroon with 49.3%.

Firms with female top managers

There is still work to be done in all the countries analyzed,

regarding firms with female top managers, Figure 6.


Text Box: Firms with female top managers, % firms90













Botswana             Cameroon                Nigeria              South Africa            Uganda

Female   Male

Figure 6. Firms with female top managers (WEF Gender Report, 2021).

There is no data presented for South Africa, but in all the other four countries between 77 – 86% of the firms still has male as top managers. Cameroon has more firms with top women managers, with only 22.9 % of the firms. In Nigeria, Uganda, and Botswana, the firms with women as top managers are 16.5%, 15.4%, and 16.5%, respectively.

Women in parliament

Parliaments all over the world are critical for the legislation of the government. If women are the majority in a country, those at the forefront of making decisions for women must be the women.




Text Box: Women in Parliarment, %80









Cameroon                        Nigeria                      South Africa                    Uganda

Female   Male

Figure 7. Women in Parliament (WEF Gender Report, 2021).













Botswana           Cameroon             Nigeria           South Africa         Uganda

Lower or single house %Women Upper house or Senate %Women

Figure 8. Women in parliament in lower/single house or

upper house/senate, % (IPU, 2021).

The reality of the presentation of women in parliament within the five evaluated countries paint a glooming picture, as presented in Figure 7 and 8. In the 21st century, countries such as Nigeria still have only 5.8% of women in parliament. There is an improvement in other countries with 33.9% in Cameroon, 34.9% in Uganda, and 45.8% in South Africa.

What does it take to serve in stock exchange listed companies?

Have you ever wondered what it takes to serve in some of the Stock Exchange-listed companies? A study conducted by SAWIL is underway, the study aims to analyze the companies listed on the different stock exchanges to evaluate the candidate in the leadership and different variables such as educational background, years of experience, etc.  As SAWIL, we believe that by identifying these variables, women can use these as tools to prepare themselves for opportunities to serve on boards and executive positions.

Figure 9 shows the number of companies listed on the stock exchange in the different regions SAWIL has a footprint. From the figure, it is evidence that South Africa has the most stock exchange-listed companies, with the least companies in Cameroon and Uganda.


Text Box: Number of companies listed on stock exchange350









Botswana             Cameroon                Nigeria              South Africa            Uganda

Figure 9. Africa’s progress towards gender equality at work

The current results, when evaluating the variables presents information from Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The presented results focus only on 95/346 selected companies in Johannesburg Stock Exchange (26%). In the 95 companies evaluated, it was found that there are 927 executives and board members. Only 232 of these positions are occupied by women, making it 25%.

Figure 10 shows the top 11 leading roles from the companies evaluated.

Top 11 leading roles

Executive Director  11  
Lead independent non-executive director  12 
Non-executive  16 
Independent Non-Executive Chairman  17 
Independed non-executive director  19 
  Chief Financial Officer    37 
Independent non-executive  28 
Independent non-executive director  30 
Chief Executive Officer   Non-Executive Director  48    95
Independent Non-Executive Director     242 
   0    100  200   300

Figure 10. Top leading roles in the JSE listed companies.

Most of the roles in these companies are occupied by Independent Non-Executive Directors, followed by Non- Executive Director. This information can be used as a tool to plan roles that may be available and shows that most of the companies employ more individuals in the role of Independent Non-Executive Director. For the women who would like to serve in the stock exchange listed companies, this may be a role to be targeted.

Figure 11 shows some of the predominant qualifications by the members in the JSE listed companies, from the companies evaluated. Although not all qualifications are presented, a majority of the members hold qualifications presented in Figure 11.

Predominant qualifications for chairperson and directors: JSE listed companies







BA                                                                                                                                            215




0                            50                         100                        150                         200                        250

Figure 11. The predominant qualifications by the members in

the JSE listed companies

Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com), Bachelor of Art (BA) and Charted Accountant (CA), Master of Business Administration (MBA) were some of the predominant qualifications held by the members in the JSE listed companies. From the companies evaluated, there were 184 honors level, 23 PhD level, and mainly undergraduate qualification.

In 2019, it was reported that in South Africa only 9% of South African directors are younger than 35 (IoDSA, 2018). There was 18% of directors between the ages of 35 and 44, and 29% between the ages of 45-55. Close to 50% of the directors were above the age of 55, with 43%.

Figure 12 shows the figure for the average of chairpersons and non-execute directors in different industries.


60                   61                      58        60        5860


Text Box: Age40





Chairpersons                                        Non-executive directors

Figure 12. An average age of chairpersons and non-executive directors (JSE listed companies) (PCW Analysis, 2020).

A report by PWC (2018), showed an average age of 55 years for chairpersons and non-executive directors JSE-listed companies. It is important for companies to employ younger members and design strategies for skills transfer and human capacity development, while prioritizing the appointment of women.

Figure 13 shows  some  of  the  traits  of  successful  effective


Figure 13. Five characteristics of effective leaders (Martinsen

and Glasø, 2014).

In the study by Martinsen and Glasø (2014), where nearly 3000 managers were interviewed. It was discovered that regarding women in leadership, female leaders are better suited for leadership than men. The traits reported in Figure 13, shows that most of the skilled leaders scored high in these traits (Martinsen and Glasø, 2014).

Section 3:

Co-authored by SAWIL Executive Chairperson: Seipati

Mokhuoa and Chief Executive Officer: Dr Tebogo Mashifana

Includes interviews from SAWIL Top 10 2021 Trailblazers and

the 2020 winner.


  • SAWIL’s Vision 2030
  • SAWIL’s resolution
  • Interview with 2021 Top 10 Trailblazer Awards
  • References

“Overall, progress toward gender equality has stalled over the past four years. At the current rate of progress, it would take Africa more than 140 years to reach gender parity”. (McKinsey and Company, 2019)

SAWIL’s Vision 2030

Although data presented shows progress in some countries to ensure women’s representation in key decision-making roles and positions, urgent work and decisive efforts to coerce companies to prioritize the appointment of women in leadership and management roles must be everyone’s agenda. Seemingly, this begs the question(s); are organizations willing to close the gender parity gap? How is it that in 2021/22, we still have close to 80% of firms without women in top leadership?

All the stakeholders involved, including the government, have a significant role in closing this gap.  When analyzing the data closely, it is evident that Nigeria is lagging, Cameroon and Botswana are doing better in most areas; this presents an opportunity for women’s development to prepare them for leadership and management roles. Moreover, this is where SAWIL comes in; the role we play in society not only aims to benefit women and the organizations they work for but also governments, economies, and society at large.

The argument for why companies should make diversity—at every level, but especially at the top—a priority is now gaining traction across the globe, albeit not enough. Because we live in a capitalist society, the rationales that seemingly get these companies’ attention tend to have something in common: money.

Statistics have repeatedly proven that companies with a diverse and inclusive employee composition at decision- making levels often have better profit margins and outperform those without significantly.

Let us look at some of the recent key findings:

  • Companies, where women held more than 30% of board seats outperformed their peers in 11 of 15 sectors.
  • A recent analysis of data from S&P 500 companies shows a strong correlation between board diversity and revenue growth during the pandemic.
  • Listed firms where at least one-third of the bosses are women

have a profit margin of ten times greater than those without.

  • A significant female presence is also associated with higher status. According to the GFP Index, Fortune’s “most admired” companies have twice as many women than the less “reputable” companies at the senior management level.
  • According to a brief/report published by UN Women, women across the globe are at the helm of institutions carrying out effective and inclusive COVID-19 responses, from the highest levels of decision-making to frontline service delivery.

In an inaugural address to the UN General Assembly, the recently appointed, and First Woman President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu promised to bring Tanzania back into the international fold, breaking with her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli’s record of bickering with donors and eventually suffering an untimely death due to



Over the past few months, President Samia Suluhu Hassan has become the most important woman in the African energy industry. She has taken some of the most courageous steps in rebooting Tanzania’s energy sector and economy. The signing of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda was a perfect start into her presidency, pushing for expedited negotiations on the stalled Tanzania LNG project with Anglo-Dutch Shell and Norway’s Equinor. Further pushing her own government to remove unfriendly taxes to Tanzanians, noting that the countries tax revenues are likely to decline in the short term but will increase in the long term. With low taxes, less corruption and limited regulations, you create jobs and attract the critically needed investment to reboot the economy in a post Covid 19 Tanzania.

In my opinion, these are swift acts of political courage in the Tanzanian context, and I believe equally impressive was the political courage for a female leader in Africa. President Hassan recognizes pragmatic common-sense solutions are needed when it comes to energy, and it is best to unify the country and get LNG and Crude oil projects going. She is an example and an inspiration for generations of African leaders, men and women alike.

I lived, studied and worked in the United States and one thing that stood out to me was this: The American sense of optimism and a belief that women can lead. Even now, during these troubled days, that mindset is still there. Living in America offers unique opportunities. People can start with very little, work hard and make a better life for themselves, their children

and the generations that follow.

Achieving those things – the American Dream – doesn’t happen for everyone. But it does happen enough to make it more than a myth or fantasy. In May 2020, a New York Times article assured readers of that very fact, noting that

86 percent of Americans raised in low-income brackets now earn more than their parents did. “Capitalism isn’t broken,” the editorial states. “Hard work does pay off. Workers do enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

I saw it with my own eyes. So, can Africans aspire to the same things?

Can African women dream big dreams like their American counterparts breaking the glass ceiling or Breaking the Gas Ceiling, as author Rebecca Ponton calls it in the title of her book?

Can we achieve an equally powerful African dream that includes or is led by women? A dream of stability and prosperity? My answer is a resounding YES.

After all, Africa has plenty of unique strengths and resources, from our talented young people to the oil in the ground. The African Dream is within our reach if women take charge and lead it. African men certainly need to adjust our thinking. So, what is holding us back? Ourselves.

If we want to see widespread change for the better, we need to stop dwelling on our obstacles or blaming people, governments, or circumstances for our difficulties.

If we want to make things better, then we need to be the ones to make it happen. We need to find unique solutions for our unique challenges and work as long and hard as necessary to make our strategies successful.

Essentially, we need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We need to let women lead the way. Seriously, men need to step back a little. I’ve shared those ideas in the past, and people don’t like them.

They tell me I’m failing to consider Africa’s history of colonialization and oppression. They tell me I don’t understand the corrupt government systems we have in Africa put in place by the colonial powers. They say poverty, lack of infrastructure and dangers are everyday realities for many. You can’t just say, “Women cannot take on these challenges and fix them. Women are not ready to deal with this.”

My response to that is, I’m not for a minute diminishing Africa’s painful history or dismissing the problems the continent faces today. I just wonder, how long are we going to use our hardships as excuses not to move forward? Women can lead us out of this mess, so why stand in the way? Because, if we can agree we want more and commit to doing the really hard work that it takes to get it, we can make transformational changes in Africa.

African nations already have examples to draw upon, beginning with other colonized countries. Taiwan, for example, was both a Dutch and Japanese colony. Today, it has GDP per capita levels on par with Germany. Women play a strong role in both economies

Then there’s Trinidad and Tobago, one of my favorite examples. Claimed by the Spanish – then held by the British, Dutch and French – the dual-island nation finally became independent in 1962. It’s now the wealthiest nation in the Caribbean. It’s also the third richest by GDP per capita in the Americas. Trinidad and Tobago’s wealth, by the way, is due to its strategic approach to monetizing its natural gas resources.

There is an African example, and we look at Rwanda. Rwanda has an amazing record for gender equality, but one that came about through tragedy. After a mass genocide against the Tutsis in 1994, the responsibility to rebuild the country fell to the women, who made up 70 percent of the remaining population. Legislation was introduced to promote women’s education as well as their roles in business and infrastructure. A new law stipulated that 30 percent of the government must be female and, in 2018, 64 percent of the country’s parliament were women – more than anywhere else in the world. The economic results have been resounding and there is less corruption. There is a big benefit when a country skips the social upheaval and goes straight to pro-women policies.  We in Africa must take an aggressive shortcut through history. We can learn from Rwanda.

I’m not saying life is perfect in any of these places, but they’ve moved in the right direction. Why can’t resource-rich African nations do the same?

Oil and Gas Can Help Get Us There

Africa’s vast oil and gas resources are one of the things that make the continent unique. They are key to a better future. But what we need is for women to have greater control over them. How do we make that happen?       Let’s         start with this: Government and business representatives in Africa need to negotiate     better oil and gas       production        deals with international companies.

We need to create local content policies that improve job and business opportunities for Africans but are still fair to companies investing in the continent. We need to insist upon, and strategically develop, better oil money management policies. We need to monetize our natural gas resources so we can build infrastructure and diversify African economies. And we need to create more opportunities for African women to build promising oil and gas careers at all levels, right up to the C-suite.

We need to stop flaring gas and, instead, more countries need to start using Africa’s abundant natural gas resources for power generation, so we can deliver widespread, reliable electricity to Africans. At the same time, we should be developing strategies for a transition to green energy sources, which can play a valuable supporting role in alleviating energy poverty. Think about it, most men have tried to do the above; the truth is, [progress] has been slow or it has not worked. Change is needed. I don’t think women are the only solution, but women bring onboard different leadership qualities that can get us into the promised land.

Government and More

Clearly, we need to fill in other pieces of the puzzle as well, including improvements to our educational system, and good governance that creates an enabling environment for widespread economic growth and improved infrastructure.

But, perhaps most of all, we need an unwavering determination to make Africa work for us, even when there are missteps and things go wrong.

U.S. Shale

That brings us back to American optimism. One shining example of that mindset is the U.S. shale industry. Think about it: Businesses took a chance on new technology.

They worked hard and, in the end, they boosted oil and gas production. America became the largest crude oil producer in the world. Those companies made something extraordinary happen, and so can African businesses and governments. We need to have mindset change and embrace new things and the idea of women leading us should not be seen as some Western idea.

Whether we’re talking about oil and gas, other economic sectors or government, we need people willing to seize opportunities, to take a chance on something new and, in some cases, make mistakes. In the process, we grow and learn, and we keep pressing forward.

My message to Africans and to the world is, Africa is more than capable of building a better future for ourselves, strengthening our economies and improving the lives of everyday Africans. Who is going to do it, if not us? And really, nobody besides us can truly make Africa the place we want it to be.

Africa’s future is our responsibility. Can we let women lead it, especially with our natural resources?  How can we make it happen? Even in difficult times, the American Dream is alive and well. The question is, can Africans aspire to the same things? Can there be an equally powerful African Dream?





Empowering Women for a Stronger, Healthier Oil and Gas Industry

I’m shocked when I’m questioned on my fervent support for women and energy. Even more, I’m sad that I often feel I must defend my right to care about this issue because I’m a man.

While it has been difficult to find hard data on female participation in Africa’s oil and gas industry, anecdotal evidence shows that women are vastly underrepresented.

I believe this is unacceptable, short-sighted and, frankly, a real stumbling block to African countries that want to realize the full socioeconomic benefits that a thriving oil and gas industry can provide. If you truly want your nation to thrive, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to help half of your population participate in one of your most lucrative industries?

Companies, in particular, have a lot to gain by creating opportunities                                for women, including            improved public perceptions, a stabilizing role on the African communities where they work and live, and an expanded talent pool at a time when the oil and gas industry is grappling with serious skills shortages.

We need to empower more African women to benefit from the oil and gas industry, whether we’re talking about opportunities for boots on the ground jobs at drill sites, professional positions, leadership roles or business opportunities for women-owned enterprises.

As actress Emma Watson said during her [2014] speech to the United Nations: “I’m inviting you to step forward to be seen, and to ask yourselves, ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’”

NJ Ayuk, JD, MBA is an internationally acclaimed thought leader, lawyer, thinker, speaker and entrepreneur, who advises major companies on corporate strategies with a focus on investing in Africa’s future

The world needs leaders with a balanced combination of IQ (Intelligence Quotient), EQ (or Emotional Intelligence) and SQ (Spiritual Intelligence).

Suppose there is an upshot from the various research conducted to date. In that case, the startling but straightforward truth that we have observed over the years about LEADERSHIP suggests that charismatic, over-the-top qualities such as charm and overconfidence do not necessarily make great leaders.

The world needs leaders with a balanced combination of IQ (Intelligence Quotient), EQ (or Emotional Intelligence) and SQ (Spiritual Intelligence). Leaders with empathy, humility, and self-knowledge are essential to our well-being, the environment and economies; they tend to navigate “crises” better, as they are often relatable, empathetic, show vulnerability, and are flexible.

As a vehicle for women leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in Africa seeking to advance their careers through Leadership Training, Executive Coaching, Entrepreneurship Development, Masterclasses, Board Training, Mentorship, and Networking, the ultimate goal and core mission behind the #SAWILVision2030 is to be at the forefront of intentional efforts that will challenge and change the status quo in practical terms.

To ensure that the representation of women in all the countries where we operate is at least 30 % in all leadership, management, and C-suite roles with a particular focus on the private sector, we need all hands-on deck, creative thinking, strategic alliances, bold and rapid moves in terms of growth and market penetration.

SAWIL’s resolution

A part of SAWIL’s resolve to contribute towards achieving the Global Sustainable Development Goals by closing the gender gap, addressing, and reducing inequalities through the #SAWILVision2030; we have implemented practical solutions.

These resolutions entail bringing women worldwide together for empowerment sessions that will prepare and equip them with knowledge and skills to excel in leadership and executive positions.   In   2021, SAWIL   has   conducted   Board   Training Programmes facilitated by global experts. Different regions, including Botswana, Cameroon, Germany, Uganda, South Africa, and Switzerland, were represented in the programme.

SAWIL has also hosted numerous sessions where women around the globe have opportunities to interact with expert coaches, gain knowledge and acquire skills and tools on how to take up space as leaders and women of influence.

One of the significant and crucial initiatives by SAWIL is an initiative founded by the Executive Chairperson, Seipati Mokhuoa.

In 2020, she launched the inaugural SAWIL Trailblazers Awards, which spotlighted women at the forefront of closing the gender gap through their work either in their businesses or organizations where they lead. These are the women who intentionally lift other women as they rise. Through this initiative, SAWIL believes that with more women spotlighted and celebrated for their trailblazing careers, this will open more opportunities for more women to serve and bring the change we desire to see in the world.

Seipati Mokhuoa – The SAWIL Trailblazers Awards 2020, Tendai Mhlanga photography.

In 2021, the second instalment of the awards, we received close to 400 nominations of phenomenal women from 14 countries in Africa and the diaspora. SAWIL had the honour of interviewing these exceptional women through:

  1. A light-hearted but very informative Series called SAWIL Pearls of Wisdom on YouTube, conducted by Seipati Mokhuoa where she strived to unearth the personal driving forces behind these trailblazing executives.
  • A series of pertinent and slightly more formal questions to

the Top 10 winners of 2021.

The 2021 Top 10 Winners present at the awards: Temitope, Mapula, Gwendoline, and Malebogo – pictured with Seipati by Tendai Mhlanga Photography


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Before we hear from this year’s trailblazers, let us get to know the inaugural SAWIL Trailblazers Awards overall winner.

Mizinga Melu, CEO – ABSA Zambia

We would like to know you as a person, tell us who Mizinga is and what her daily roles and responsibilities are?

Mizinga Melu is an author of a number 1 international best seller Braving the Odds. She is the current CEO of Absa bank Zambia. She has held several key roles which include being CEO of Standard chartered bank where she was the first Zambian to hold the role and the first female to hold the role across the African countries. She is a board member. She is the founder of When Female Lead, a women’s network aimed at raising confident leaders on the African continent.  I am also the founder of a female organization called When Females Lead, it is a Zambian based non-profit organisation that aims to build and raise ambitious, confident women who are incredibly passionate about achieving excellent careers and becoming leaders in society.

I am married to Chipepo and have 2 children Matthew and Chipepo. I love writing and I have recently published a MEMIOR and in the process of writing another leadership book. I love running as a sport and I recently completed the 21Ks marathon.

As the Inaugural SAWIL Trailblazers Awards 2020 overall winner, what would you say sets you apart from every other C-suite leader in Corporate SADC?

All the ladies were deserving, and they did extremely well. When I saw the ladies and what they had achieved, I was extremely impressed with the diversity of skills AFRICA has.

What set me apart however was probably the diversity of experience that I have acquired over the years.

I have worked in over 6 countries, have managed a number of banks on the continent, working in the UK and the US. I worked across Asia and Europe. Managing different cultures and different responsibilities was key to being awarded the role. The foundation I also founded of raising confident leaders across the continent. This also worked on  how  I make a difference in supporting the girl child on the continent. One of my roles involves empowering SME businesses. That also made a fundamental difference to me being selected and setting me apart in the C Suite.

At the time of the interview, I was writing my book Braving the Odds and I believe that this was a practical way of showing that we can truly rise against the challenges that we face.

From the outside looking in, you seem to have it all together. Is

there really such a thing as work – life balance?

Work-life balance is a buzz word that just means you’re able to juggle many balls in the air. The first step to balancing is doing what you enjoy and what you love. Bring your whole self to work and bring passion in your job, enjoy being with your family and you will achieve wonders with your balance. Get to a point where work does not feel like real work. Then you begin to enjoy it. Have fun whilst working but in the process get paid!

As women leaders, we all at some point experience the proverbial glass ceiling – what has been the most significant barrier in your career and how did you overcome the constant demands that come with wanting a seat at the table?

Over the years, I have been the only woman in the board room. Working in different cultures and being the only black female woman in the board room taught me early on in my carrier the importance of not letting gender have your way. I realized that men will always have a way of sticking to fellow men either when they go for a smoke, or they start talking football and assume all ladies enjoy the game. So, I leant to just stand my corner, be the lady that I am and still deliver as a lady. Earlier on in my career, I felt it important to learn men’s games just to get in the conversation. I started supporting Manchester United just to ensure I was part of the Monday morning debate on football. With time I realized that it was not necessary to do what you don’t like for the sake of being part of the male conversation. I realized that the glass ceiling was meant to be crushed. It’s glass because it’s meant to be crushed otherwise it would have been steel. It was all about mindset and realizing that everything is possible.

In terms of inspiration, where/who do you draw yours from?

I draw my inspiration from the Lord God almighty. I also realize that the most important thing is for us to lift others as we rise. The more I can make a difference and give back the more I get inspired to do more. The biggest inspiration for me is the ability to see leaders grow on the continent.

Lastly, what advice would you give any woman out there whose goals and determination are to shutter glass ceilings, blaze trails and ultimately reach the helm of their profession?

The glass ceiling is meant to be shattered. Do your focused and stay focused. You are more than capable to achieve and rise to higher places in the organizations.

Interview with 2021 Top 10 Trailblazer Awards

On 25 September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the agreed framework for international development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is more ambitious, envisaging poverty eradication, the systematic tackling of climate change and building peaceful, resilient, equitable and inclusive societies.

The agenda, unlike the MDGs, has a stand-alone Goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In addition, there are gender equality targets in other Goals, and a more consistent call for sex disaggregation of data across many indicators.

UN Women Communications and Advocacy Section in New York has over the years shared and demonstrated how the 17 SGDs are critical in informing strategic interventions when building on localization efforts at country and regional levels.

From this premise, we, as SAWIL, are quite intentional about the process that goes into the selection of the #SAWILVision2030 Pioneers, also known as the Top 10 Winners of the Trailblazers Awards.

The following section is all about the pioneering women who sit

at the helm of Corporate Africa and Business.

As you read through their interviews, do not forget to click on the YouTube link to see the riveting interviews that contributed to them earning a seat in the 2021 Strategic African Women in Leadership (SAWIL) Trailblazers Awards – TOP 10 WINNERS.


Overall, 2021 Winner – Fhulufhelo Badugela , CEO: Multichoice Africa

As a trailblazing woman with a voice and a seat at the table, what is your  core value-add to your


My core value-add to my organization can be split into two, contribution to the shareholder value, as well as to the success in achieving diversity and inclusion.

From shareholder value perspective, my value-add is attributed to building effective management teams and ensuring operational efficiencies, by providing direction and leadership towards achieving the objectives of the group. I’ve successfully led a diversified portfolio of multiple operating countries.

For diversity and inclusion, I led the practical approach to transformation. We crafted a strategy to achieve diversity, defined what success looks like and translated that to individual goals that were cascaded down from EXCO to every leadership level, and track progress thereof. This practical approach to a large extent, is the reason we were able to achieve success in transformation.


The ICT sector that we operate in, is a male dominated industry and through building a diverse organization, we subsequently contributed to increased woman representation in the sector, changing the face of the industry.


I am at the helm of a multinational organization that has an impact in multiple countries. If I am to speak specifically to my country of origin, South Africa; we add value to the government’s drive to create employment, empower Youth, and achieve equality. We are a significant investor in upskilling talent, our initiatives in

partnership with local governments continue to create employment opportunities, with 500 Youth accelerated critical skill learnership interventions that have already successfully placed 50% of this talent into jobs as foothold for driving positive transformation.

The continent at large;

We have a workforce that represents 81 nationalities, of which 47% are women and 39% of these women are in leadership roles. We leverage not only our platform but importantly our presence in each country.

Firstly, as a key employer supporting over 8000 staff and 5,600 installers across Africa. We enrich the lives of over 100 million Africans across 50 countries through entertaining, educating and informing change for a more prosperous, innovative, and inclusive Africa.

What role does your organization play in contributing towards achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion in your country? Please feel free to share statistics (If there is anything to brag about, we encourage you to do it).

Ours is an organization which places transformation and gender equity at the heart of our employee value proposition. We are a multinational with a footprint across Africa. We have diverse teams which are led and staffed by citizens of the countries where we have operations. This brings with it inherent complexity as we are required to operate across cultures, languages, even time-zones. This reality has meant that embracing diversity as a strength has become critical to our success and I have to say that this commitment can be seen in the results we have achieved.

We have a number of initiatives focused supporting the development of women and building the pipeline of female leaders for both management and technology leadership roles.  Through programmes such as Woman on the Rise, Woman’s Tech Academy, Executive Associate Programme, Male Ally Programme and Woman’s Forum Master Class Accelerators, championing these issues is a company-wide commitment which is delivered across all of our markets.

In addition to this we have supported 31 Black owned businesses (over 50% female-owned) through the MC Innovation Fund.

We’ve long been committed to make a significant and lasting impact in the communities in which we operate, so we can empower them to grow.

Our work continues to be recognized globally:

 Included in the Fortune 100 Companies

– “Change the World” List

  1. We joined 13 leading global companies to support the Earthshot Prize to help repair our planet
  2. Named as finalists of the Top Empowerment Summit & Awards in the categories of Top Empowered Company: Enterprise & Supplier Development; and Top Empowered Business of the year

What are some of the unique setbacks and challenges your company encountered during the global pandemic, especially concerning your women workforce?

The pandemic resulted in a new normal for all of us, placing pressure on parents and in particular women. With the line between work life and home life becoming increasingly blurred, many working mothers found themselves having to juggle the many demands placed on them from becoming home schoolteachers overnight to meeting work deadlines under very challenging circumstances We anticipated that our people would need additional support in order to thrive under ‘work- from-home’ protocols and we worked quickly to put these in place. Over-and- above providing our employees with the practical tools they required to WFH such as data and access to online tools like Microsoft Teams, we added services to support their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Some of these included individual and team counselling services, Covid support with a dedicated in-house medical practitioner, home-schooling support, at-home fitness and nutrition programs as well the full suite of employee wellness programmes already in place.

These services and access to professional advice helped our employees offset some of the potential negative impacts of navigating the pandemic and all that it came with. Our holistic approach provided solutions to cater to the diversity of needs and challenges our workforce has faced over the past couple of years.

first President of the United States of Africa;

What is your dream for our youth and women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the continent?

As a leader in a business which not only embraces Africa’s diversity but celebrates it through its content, my dream is very closely linked to what I do every day.

I wholeheartedly believe that the potential of our youth and women will only be realised when we begin to cultivate an ecosystem which allows them to leverage their unique talents and our continent’s resources beyond extractive industries.

My dream is that young people and women across this continent will be able to work together across borders, learning from each other  and  using their collective  experience  and strengths to  solve  Africa’s  problems and propel the continent forward.

What three key policies will you implement to advance the ideals of Pan- Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance?

  • Enterprise Development programmes supporting female and/or youth businesses as a  pre-requisite  for foreign businesses seeking to invest in Africa
  • Compulsory public service for professionals graduating from Africa’s leading universities with a focus on STEM and creative industries – Graduates to give back 2 years by working in the public sector related to their profession
  • Changes to primary and high school curriculum to include African history and cultural studies for all children.

Interview link: Sawil Trailblazers Interview with Fhulufhelo Badugela – YouTube

Top 10, Trailblazier Second Place – Kosi Yankey – Ayeh , CEO: Ghana Enterprise Agency

As a trailblazing woman with a voice and a seat at the table, what is your core value-add to your


In my role as the Executive Director of NBSSI and now the Acting CEO of GEA, I envisioned an institution that could Implement and oversee tangible impact and life changing support to our MSMEs. An institution at the heart of the Ghanaian economy, where more than 90% of businesses were MSMEs employing a majority of the population. Majority of MSMEs in Ghana are micro, informal predominantly women owned. They have many constraints and require support through access to finance, access to market, product                                 development, standardization, digitalization and so on.

I value integrity because that is the way to get people to do the right thing. And when honesty, transparency and a commitment is instilled in staff, they do what’s best for clients, customers, colleagues, and the organization.

I take personal interest in the professional growth of the staff. There has been an institutionalization of training and career programmes to develop staff and provide an environment that fosters personal and professional growth.

I have encouraged Staff through promotion to deserving staff and I have also motivated senior staff and Middle Management to set a high-performance standard. I have showed a lot of respect to all the staff members and all the stakeholders, partners and donors.


The MSME sector is very delicate one, with majority of businesses being informal and women-owned with numerous challenges. I was aware that the sure way to lift people out of poverty was through decent jobs, and decent jobs opportunities would be. So my first challenge was how to first and foremost formalize these MSMEs, particularly those owned by women, find market for them and build their competitiveness, and then transition them from micro to small, small to medium and medium to large with relevant policies. Increased massively the formalization of businesses and increased massively the database of MSMEs.


I have been committed to a legacy of resilience, togetherness, and innovation. One of the reasons that pushed me to support the president in the establishment as a national institution capable of bringing about a change that will affect many lives.

The continent at large;

For a long time, the continent has been battling to address challenges of social injustices and inequality. My work with the agency has helped to ensure balanced socio-economic development.  This has been through partnerships with relevant institutions and platforms whose work influences social discourse on  the continent. I am proud member of Women for Integrity Series (WISE) instituted by Alliance for Integrity, which I helped to launch in Ghana. I have also been a champion of other platforms such as the Ghana Women Entrepreneurship Summit to advance women and girl child economic empowerment through policy reforms, transparency, integrity, impartiality, efficiency,                                     professionalism,               and accountability in the management of public affairs not only in Ghana but the continent.

What role does your organization play in contributing towards achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion in your country? Please feel free to share statistics (If there is anything to brag about, we encourage you to do it).

Last year, when the coronavirus disease (COVID 19) hit, the whole world was not prepared, and so it sent a shock wave across the entire world. Ghana was not spared its devastated effect . Many businesses folded up, and lives were lost. Women, youth and the vulnerable were the most affected. I led my organization to take the charge to help Ghanaians navigate through the storm. Thanks to the president and our development partners, we were able to sustain many businesses, sustained jobs and helped bring the economy back on track. Government set up the first fund to support MSMEs during an emergency leading to over 300,000 businesses receiving funds, the first-time finance was easily accessible to for women entrepreneurs.

What are some of the unique setbacks and challenges your company encountered during the global pandemic, especially concerning your women workforce?

One of the challenges we faced was how to reach people and businesses. Because there was lockdown and with majority of businesses being informal, we needed to devise ways to get people come out of their rooms. We were in a crises situation which needed urgent attention but at the same time our approach required a lot more time and patience as there was need to observe health and safety protocols.  We had to move so many paper applications unto an electronic platform to be able to process their request and offer them support, i.e. reaching out to over 1 million people across the country. The first government intervention of   such massive scale in a short space of time pushed me to support the president in the establishment

Again, even when people came out of their rooms, it was difficult identifying them because they were not formalized. There was need for collaborative efforts, with revenue agency to provide Tax Identifications Numbers (TIN) and to deploy technology platform to support the process. We also took it upon ourselves to train business associations to be able to support their members with the processes and reinvent themselves.

We also had to devote efforts targeted at women because majority of them had low levels of education, making it difficult to move in the pace we wanted.

Again, women generally lacked financial literacy skills and the confidence needed to step out for support and more efforts were needed to bring them onboard.

The year is 2030, and we have miraculously managed to integrate the continent and you are appointed as the first President of the United States of Africa.

a) What is your dream for our youth and women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the continent?

A united Africa where women, and youth are able bring about change. Where there is peace and security and equal opportunities for education, jobs, for women, girls, and youth in general. An Africa where women are empowered, I also hope to use any opportunity and through the platform to bring about equal access to resources or the factors of production for women, an Enabling environment, and the requisite infrastructure for innovation to thrive and in the long term bring about high living standards (with necessities of life: water, sanitation, peace and security).

(b)What three key policies will you implement to advance the ideals of Pan- Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance?

The African Development Bank estimates that the continent’s infrastructure financing needs will be as much as $170 billion a year by 2025, with an estimated gap of around $100 billion a year. Infrastructure will enable innovation to thrive on the continent and push productivity and sustainable economic growth which will also translate into human development, poverty reduction, and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As an agrarian continent, reforms in Agric sector will help attract the youth into the sector. Pearls of Wisdom – YouTube Interview: Sawil Trailblazers Interview with Kosi Yankey Ayeh – YouTube

Top 10, Trailblazier Third Place – Owen Omogiafo, Group CEO: Transcorp PLC , Nigeria

As a trailblazing woman with a voice and a seat at the table, what is your core value-add to your


As the President and Group CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc  (Transcorp), the largest listed diversified conglomerate in Nigeria, I am responsible  for  leading and transforming my organisation while adapting and seizing opportunities that may arise from changes in the economy.

As a leader, I promote and implement an environment of equality, inclusion, and equity. I understand the importance of institutionalisation and building to last. This mindset drives my daily actions in terms of staff motivation and relationship management    to            drive     positive transformation across the Group. My mantra of “Execution and Excellence!” is also a major driving force in developing and executing the Group’s strategic objectives.


As a Group, our differentiating factor lies in our purpose of improving lives and transforming Nigeria. Following this purpose, we invest deliberately in strategic sectors of the economy with the potential to catalyse change for the nation and the continent.

We firmly believe in strong Corporate Governance and the principle of “Do well, Do Good” and we deliver these through our core values of Enterprise, Excellence and Execution. We strive to distinguish ourselves in the sectors we operate in and bring our 3Es values to bear – stakeholder value rather than just shareholder value. In the Power Sector, I am a member of the Board of Trustees of the Association of Power Generating Companies. We are charged with providing strategic leadership to the sector in driving power generation sustainably for the country. In the Hospitality sector, amidst the need for adaptation to the new normal, we have gone ahead to redefine the hospitality space. This we have achieved through our innovative and diverse service offerings becoming the ultimate and premium tourist destination in Africa.

Country and the continent at large;

I have remained a strong advocate for women in leadership despite the huge domination of our male counterparts in different aspects of the country’s governance. I choose to differentiate myself with excellence being a formidable representation and role model for both men and women aspiring to become industry leaders in their respective fields. I have been able to consistently demonstrate that men and women can attain whatever goals they set their minds on to achieve through hard work, dedication, grace and excellence.

What role does your organization play in contributing towards achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion in your country? Please feel free to share statistics (If there is anything to brag about, we encourage you to do it).

I am fortunate to be a part of a Group that thrives on recognising and rewarding excellence, with a track record of competence and capacity to deliver on its purpose of improving lives and transforming Nigeria. Our core values of Enterprise, Execution and Excellence continue to inspire our respective stakeholders to make positive impact in all business dealings.

As an organisation, Transcorp  prides itself in being an equal opportunity employer; guaranteeing its employees the right to be treated without discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, education, religion, or experience. As at today, women, from a diverse range of backgrounds and ethnicities account for about 33% of our board composition, 30% of our workforce with 60% in Management positions.

Furthermore, as a conglomerate, Transcorp remains a beacon of excellence in the area of good governance. Women have continued to excel in executive positions within the group. This is particularly due to the exceptional leadership of our group Chairman and my mentor, Mr. Tony.O. Elumelu, CON.

What are some of the unique setbacks and challenges your company encountered during the global pandemic, especially concerning your women workforce?

The year 2020 was a year like no other for most companies including the Transcorp group. COVID- 19 absolutely transformed the way we do business. Our hospitality businesses were severely impacted by the pandemic, reporting significant losses and the lowest occupancy levels ever experienced since inception. However, we had to be extremely innovative and restructure our operations to continue to serve our guests and strive to withstand the harsh operating environment. We prioritized the safety of our guests and employees. We also worked with health experts to create safety guidelines. “Innovation” and “adaptability” are keywords that defined our operations and are still relevant to this day.

In addition, we had to go to extraordinary lengths to prove to our stakeholders and shareholders that we are dependable, and that their confidence in our businesses is not misplaced. However, challenges are inevitable, to achieve any worthwhile feat. For our female workforce, the major challenge was achieving the balance between working from home and managing the home front, with a family that was at home as well. During this period, we learnt the benefit of designing human resource policies that promoted excellence and at the same time, were flexible enough to accommodate the specific peculiarities of our work force. I personally believe in, and practice work- life integration and I believe that as a woman and a human being, the quality of time invested in work or family, is infinitely more important  than  the quantity.

The truth is, with life comes challenges (and challenges never last forever). Only the tough and the resilient surmount them.

The year is 2030, and we have miraculously managed to integrate the continent and you are appointed as the first President of the United States of Africa;

  1. What is your dream for our youth and women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the continent?

“When women participate in the economy, everyone benefits” – Hilary Clinton

My dream is for every African youth  to have access to world class education, job enrichment, and a platform to create an Africa that supports, nurtures and drives the achievement of the dreams and aspirations of our young generation. When I think of the African woman, my dream would be for her to be safe, protected, educated and provided for. My dream is also for the African woman to have agency over every aspect of her future and path in life.

I would like to see an Africa where men and women can attain any height that they desire; a truly equitable society, where there is no glass ceiling and merit is earned purely on capacity and competence. If we can simply create a united, prosperous Africa, that inspires hope and patriotism, where talent is retained rather than exported and where the future holds endless potential for overall development, I would consider this a dream come true.

  • What three key policies will you implement to advance the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance?

Pan-Africanism is a movement, an ideology and a geopolitical  project for liberating and uniting African people and the African diaspora around the : world. In order to build an integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and Vision of African Renaissance, I would propose the following for consideration:

  • First will be the policies that will reinforce and institutionalise the elimination of barriers to trade, movement of people and goods along with economic cooperation between African countries, as envisaged in the AFCTA Agreement, which came into force in January 2021. Only when we as Africans, view Africa as a singular unified entity and its economic development as our collective responsibility, will we truly reach our full economic and social potential.
  • Second, will be the policy that promotes access to finance for promising entrepreneurs. SMEs and Entrepreneurship are the lifeblood of any emerging economy and a key catalyst for economic prosperity. The Tony Elumelu Foundation  is currently promoting this ideal, through its annual Entrepreneurship programme, which very recently in fact, empowered nearly 5,000 African youths, with non-refundable seed funding, access to mentorship and tools for scalability across their different businesses.
  • Last, but most definitely  not  the least, will be a policy that will protect women from the cultural biases that exist on the continent and creates an inherent disadvantage for women. This policy will break those barriers that prevent women from achieving their full potential. It is only when we fully include women that our growth as a continent can be sustained.

Top 10 Trailblazer, Fourth Place – Dupe Olusola , CEO: Transcorp Hotels PLC , Nigeria

As a trailblazing woman with a voice and a seat at the table, what is your core value- add to your organization, sector, country and continent at large?

I am very committed to execution. It is a word that has come to define my attitude to work. I want things done excellently, but I want it done now. This has helped me to record impressive achievements. As I have shared several times, I became MD/CEO at Transcorp Hotels Plc. in March 2020 when the country was nearing a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with a talented team committed to execution, we were able to survive the pandemic, going from a loss-making position in 2020 to profit in Q3 2021, with three months to spare till the end of the year. As MD/CEO, Transcorp Hotels has broken so many records in terms of performance. It is clear what an unbridled commitment to execution can achieve.

The hospitality sector, world over, felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but our performance was a bright spot amid the gloom, as we retained our position as a pacesetter in the in the hospitality sector in Africa. One of our properties Transcorp Hilton Abuja was the best performing Hilton hotel in 2020, as we continue to show how to innovate and thrive in a pandemic. In 2021, I was invited to the Advisory Board of the Arabian and African Hospitality Investment Conference, as an important representative of the hospitality community’s elite in the Middle East & Africa region.

I joined other top personalities in the hospitality sector, include hotel owners, managers and financiers to share my insight and experience, to help shape the topics and themes of utmost importance for the industry ahead of the event which held in September. In October, I published an article on Business Insider with a deep dive into How AFTCA and a pandemic world pose new opportunities for hospitality and tourism on the continent.

One of the major challenges my country faces, is unemployment. Through the expansion of our business, we are creating jobs and contributing to the overall economic growth of the country. In July, I joined the Vice President of Nigeria Prof Yemi   Osinbajo, the Chairman of our parent group Transcorp Mr. Tony              O. Elumelu and resident/GCEO Mrs. Owen Omogiafo, to launch Aura by Transcorp Hotels, a digital platform for   booking accommodation, food, and memorable lifestyle experiences. Apart from direct jobs that come with a new entity like Aura, the online platform allows people to list their homes and services, creating a new breed of entrepreneurs. Aura was created as         part       of            our         asset-light strategy, making our African expansion closer to reality than ever.

What role does your organization play in contributing towards achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion in your country? Please feel free to share statistics (If there is anything to brag about, we encourage you to do it).

With about 55% of our leadership and staff women, we are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion in Nigeria. We are setting the pace and showing the whole country how successful businesses run by women can be. I lead a Nigeria Exchange Group (NGX) listed company; the president of our parent Group is a woman; I can go on and on about how women hold key positions across the group and how dearly we hold equality and diversity to our hearts. Through the success of our female-led organizations, we are showing people what can be achieved when women lead. Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), we are also empowering many female entrepreneurs in the country.

What are some of the unique setbacks and challenges your company encountered during the global pandemic, especially concerning your women workforce?

The hospitality sector was one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I would say that we were very fortunate not to have any unique setbacks other than you would find in most organizations. While we were able to keep the lights on, there were other challenges like the safety of our staff, which we made our priority. We had to shut down our corporate office at a time, having people work from home to keep them safe. In all, our commitment to staff welfare, especially our women, have always been our priority and remains our top priority.

The year is 2030, and we have miraculously managed to integrate the continent and you are appointed as the first President of the United States of Africa;

  1. What is your dream for our youth and women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the continent?

I am a strong advocate for women empowerment, and an avid believer in the capability of women to make our world a better place, whether as leaders, entrepreneurs, or professionals in different fields. It is my dream that one day women in Africa will

live in a continent where we do not need policies to ensure fair representation in leadership, both political and corporate. Our youth are the continent’s greatest resource, and the future of Africa depends on them. I dream of a future where youth take their rightful place in leadership and be the kind of leaders they have always asked for.

  • What three key policies will you implement to advance the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance?

-The first policy will be focused on gender equality. The gender imbalance in leadership and other decision-making positions on our continent will not change overnight, a policy can make things balance out faster.

-A policy on human rights and the rule of law

Pearls of Wisdom Interview: SAWIL Trailblazers Interview with Dupe Olusola – YouTube

Top 10 Trailblazer, Fifth Place – Mapule Bodibe , Chief Marketing Officer: MTN , South Africa

As a trailblazing woman with a voice and a seat at the table, what is your core value- add to your


As the Chief Consumer Officer at MTN South Africa, I’m responsible for managing the Consumer and Marketing strategy for MTN in the South African  market.  Part of my responsibility is the development of mobile products and services that consumers use to connect to their loved ones. I’m also responsible for making sure that customers are aware of the MTN Brand and choose us over our competitors. Every day I work with my team to ensure that we enable and empower our customers to reach their potential using mobile technology.

I lead a strong team of people that is passionate about our customers and plays a leading role in the organization to ensure that customers have the best and most competitive products and services and that they love the MTN Brand. I believe in purpose driven marketing that adds real value to customers and I’m proud that the work that we do changes people’s lives for the better and enables MTN to build long lasting relationships with customers.


Statistics show that mobile technology can change lives for the better and make a meaningful contribution to society. The internet has a strong influence on economic growth rates accounting for up to 5% of GDP. Cellular phones have had a major impact on our lives and the way that we perform everyday tasks, and this is making our lives better than ever before.

Several studies have shown mobile technology to have the most rapid deployment in international society of all available communication technologies and this is supported by statistics that show that in 2011, more than two thirds of South African households had access to a mobile phone (Statistics South Africa, 2012) making it the most used Information Communication Technology (ICT) service in the country.

Today about 20 to 22 million people in South Africa use a smartphone, which accounts for about one third of the country’s population and by using mobile phones, individuals can benefit financially, personally and professionally.

I am proud to work in an industry that has been a strong catalyst for job creation by creating new digital industries that can be accessed via the mobile phone, irrespective of physical location.


During the Covid lockdown, the world was turned upside down when people could no longer go to work, and kids could not go into school. This resulted in significant economic challenges in the country further driving the digital divide, economic contraction, slower growth and rising unemployment.

There was excessive demand on mobile and communications networks as more people moved to online platforms for work and school and I feel very privileged to have been part of an industry and organization that was equipped to enable this type of access at a time when our country needed it.

  • Mobile technology enabled people to continue working and learning from home when they couldn’t go to the office and kids couldn’t go to school and this ensured that companies continued to stay productive, and our country’s economy continued to generate income.
  • Mobile technology was used by schools for home schooling which ensured that kids did not miss out on a school year as they were able to learn online.

The continent at large?

The telecommunications industry has been one of the most important pillars in Africa that is lifting the continent up and boosting Africa’s growth. Mobile subscriptions are increasing which reflects positively on the economic growth of African countries.

Mobile Money is one of the most developed technologies in Africa where financial transactions can happen via the mobile phone, enabling the unbanked communities to join the banking system, thereby complimenting the traditional banking systems. Three African countries are among the top 10 countries in the world to adopt Mobile Money, namely Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda and this has impacted positively on the economies of those countries.

Education is another field where mobile technology has played a crucial role on the continent by reducing illiteracy by enabling e-learning platforms that can be accessed via the phone. MTN has recently introduced the MTN Online school which is a free online portal that will offer a digital curriculum for school children from grades R-12. The online school will offer additional features like video lessons, assessments, and extra-tuition lessons for Grade 10 to 12 learners. It will also focus on areas such as financial skills, entrepreneurship, arts and culture, and career guidance content, focusing on critical careers where there are skills shortages in South Africa. The MTN Online School is focused on using the power of the digital world to supplement and support the physical classroom and this will enable youth to access future opportunities through quality education and learning.

MTN’s App of the Year Awards platform is an accelerator for innovators and entrepreneurs to create solutions to launch and grow sustainable businesses

that will provide pioneering solutions to customers, contributing to economic growth and creating much-needed employment opportunities across the continent.

What role does your organization play in contributing towards achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion in your country? Please feel free to share statistics (If there is anything to brag about, we encourage you to do it).

Gender Empowerment is a key strategic component of MTN’s Corporate Social Investment across its footprint. Significant contributions have been made towards the empowerment and development of girls and women in the countries in which MTN operates. Initiatives include enabling access to ICT and building capacity of girls and women in coding, robotics, programming & computer assembling. MTN is committed to the promotion of gender equality and diversity in the workplace and the eradication of all forms of unfair gender discrimination.

MTN Group has signed the United Nations Women Empowerment Principles, pledging its commitment to the advancement of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The principles provide guidance on how businesses in all sectors can advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. MTN commits itself fully to the articles of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as  to  the Women’s Empowerment Principles of the United Nations Global Compact.

MTN is also part of the African Union’s pledge to drive women’s financial and economic inclusion, address gender-based violence and accountability to global gender commitments. Through this pledge and strategic partnerships, MTN intends to meaningfully respond to barriers that arise from ICT and address inequalities that hinder girls and women from fully participating in and benefiting from the bold, new digital world. And to ensure girls and women have the necessary skills and knowledge to understand, develop content, participate in and benefit fully from ICTs and their applications.

Through MTN’s policies and its women empowerment initiatives, MTN strives to create an enabling environment that specifically addresses the special needs of women and that promotes the advancement of all persons, free from gender bias, thereby driving equality, diversity, and inclusion across the continent.

MTN has committed itself to the Women’s Empowerment Principles as this has the capability to transform lives across the continent and beyond.

What are some of the unique setbacks and challenges your company encountered during the global pandemic, especially concerning your women workforce?

One of the unique challenges that was introduced by COVID-19 was the pressure on working mothers to balance work and family obligations at a time when the need to connect digitally for remote working and learning increased. A lot of females within the organization had to take on even more work responsibilities, whilst managing increased responsibilities in their households and hence shouldering a disproportionate share of the burden as a result of the pandemic, resulting in a conflict in work-life balance.

With a lot of women at MTN being the primary caregivers in their homes whilst working full-time, a lot of women spent more time caring for children whilst they were working from home as well as supporting their children with their schooling whilst at home.

There was a lot of pressure on females within the organization to supervise their kids’ home-schooling requirements whilst managing their day-to-day work responsibilities, especially during the day when both demands were in conflict.

In addition, the uncertainty and unavailability of childcare increased this burden even further because children had to stay home. Consequently, women felt more exhausted, burned out, and under pressure than men and some of them either left the organization or considered leaving their employment to downshift their careers to create the balance.

One of the great interventions that was introduced within the organization was an allocated time every single day when there would be no meetings to allow for parents to cater for their kids home- schooling and other care giving requirements.

The year is 2030, and we have miraculously managed to integrate the continent and you are appointed as the first President of the United States of Africa;

One of the aspirations of the African Union’s 2063 agenda, is the development of an integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan- Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance.

The quest for African Unity was inspired by the spirit of Pan Africanism, focusing on political and economic independence, and motivated by the self-reliance and self-determination of the African people, with democratic and people-centred governance.

What is your dream for our youth and women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the continent?

Youth comprise the largest segment of the populations in most African countries and yet they are still some of the most marginalized in the world, with the highest unemployment rate – more than 50% of African youth are seeking jobs. They are educated and aspirational and the promise of Africa’s future rests with this large number of young people who will be the new generation of future African leaders.

My dream for African youth is to see them being the drivers of change on the continent because I believe they are best positioned to craft solutions to solve their own challenges. Youth can be a source of hope and positive change in Africa – they can be empowered and enabled to control their own narrative and shift the focus from problems to solutions such as Innovation, education, and entrepreneurship to drive change. More effort needs to be invested to better prepare youth to enter the labour market by equipping them with entrepreneurial skills to forge their own employment destinies. I believe African

countries can forge partnerships in common development areas such as digital skills, job creation,      agriculture,         health                                          and entrepreneurship as well as exchange programmes to unlock areas of mutual benefit.

African countries need to change the roles of young people from being passive recipients of negative norms to proactive social and economic change agents who empower themselves and their peers to become the ethical leaders of tomorrow. When young people value themselves and realize their potential, they can stand on a foundation that will lead them towards innovation, entrepreneurship, and employment. By promoting the economic and political participation of youth, young people will be empowered to have the confidence to shape their own more prosperous futures and to reach their full potential.

Women account for more than 50 percent of Africa’s combined population, but in 2018 generated only 33 percent of the continent’s collective GDP. This reinforces inequality and compromises Africa’s long- term economic growth.

Experts believe that women’s economic empowerment is the key to achieving socioeconomic growth transformation of the continent.

Although women make up a significant proportion of the economically active population across the continent, their contribution is not fully recorded because they are mainly engaged in the informal sector industries. In other cases, what they do such as domestic work, is not considered an economic activity. Women face higher unemployment, lower literacy and persistent wage gaps which creates gender inequality and economic disparities.

My dream for African women is to promote gender equality to drive inclusive growth and reduce poverty. Women’s economic empowerment through skills transfer, access to finance and entrepreneurship opportunities sets women up on the path to a better future.

I believe Investing in women’s education and development is the most critical step in the journey towards the empowerment of African women. The development and training of women will help them to earn a living and increase their household income which can drive economic growth because educated women can boost overall productivity in the economy which will improve GDP.

One of the other important gateways to economic growth is access to digital technologies. The African continent still has the second largest gender gap in mobile telecommunications

– According to the GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report 2019, women in low – and middle-income countries are 10% less likely than men to own a mobile device, and 23% less likely to make use of the internet, compared to their male counterparts. Digital and internet access can be the lever that opens many doors for women and the focus should be on creating women-friendly products to drive digital inclusion and spreading the use of digital services to empower female entrepreneurs to unlock economic opportunities.

MTN’s belief system is that “everyone deserves the benefit of a modern connected life. To guarantee this, MTN strives to ensure that men and women benefit equally from ICT thereby assisting to reduce inequalities that exist across its footprint. MTN is focused on enabling access to digital resources for women, as well as equipping them with the knowledge, training, and confidence to use digital technologies. MTN is also focused on providing women with greater access to financial services and other sources of financing to drive financial inclusion and help reduce economic disparities.

I dream of an Africa where youth and women will be empowered, educated, and digitally and financially enabled to take their rightful place in society to make an active contribution to the growth of the economy on the African continent.

What three key policies will you implement to advance the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance?

1.I would implement a policy aimed at Driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution to         Advance African economies scientifically and technologically to enable digitalization and innovation.

Today, digitalization is a momentous force impacting different spheres of our existence, from enhancing household and personal experiences to introducing innovative agricultural, manufacturing, and industrial processes. The adoption of digital and smart technologies and the speed of innovation are expected to transform the economies of African countries at an unprecedented rate, thereby empowering communities, improving the effectiveness of businesses, enabling health care, and creating livelihoods for all.

  • I would implement a policy that drives gender equality in all spheres of life, to strengthen the role of Africa’s women and creating parity in all spheres of life (political, economic, and social) as well as eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against women.

Well educated citizens underpinned by science, technology and innovation are key for the development of Africa’s human and social capital (through an education and skills revolution emphasizing science and technology).

The policy would be aimed at enabling access to digital resources and finance for women, as well fostering knowledge, training, and confidence for women to participate in the economy to ensure that women are not further marginalized in an increasingly digital world.

  • I would implement a policy that enforces a minimum standard of living, quality of life and well-being for all, ending poverty, inequalities of income and creating opportunities for job creation, especially addressing youth unemployment, and enabling access to the necessities of life – water, sanitation, electricity, providing social security and protection.

This policy will be aimed at creating opportunities for Africa’s self-realization and independence through access to health, education and jobs and ensuring safety and security.

Pearls      of     Wisdom     Interview:      SAWIL

Trailblazers Interview with Mapula Bodibe

– YouTube

Top 10 Trailblazer, Sixth Place – Gwendoline ABUNAW, Managing Director: Ecobank, CEMAC Region – Cameroon

As a trailblazing woman with a voice and a seat at the table, what is your core value-add to your Organization

My core value addition to my organization has been delivering the best financial performance since the existence of Ecobank in Cameroon, in order to reaffirm women’s ability to excel in all roles and all sectors and most times do much better than their male counterparts. This has gone a long way to renewing our shareholders commitment to promoting women and will ensure other women will be considered for future CEO roles. Another core value-add was the creation of the first women’s association within Ecobank group known as the Paragon Women’s association of Ecobank (PAWA) which has spurred engagement to the institution by the women within the bank and motivated them to go back to school or upgrade their skills through certification programs, thus indirectly impacting the performance of the organization while improving and developing the skills and well-being of the women. Through PAWA, a mentoring program was setup to provide the support system needed for growth and development of self and career guidance as well as enhancing network opportunities beyond the boundaries of work. It equally impacted the brand image of the organization within the market as we have increased visibility and increased request for job opportunities within our organization.


For the financial institution sector, as the first female CEO of a private commercial bank and given the overwhelming positive impact and reception of this news in the market, this spurred other private commercial banks to follow suit with nominations of other women CEO and two deputy CEOs.

The other core value add has been my participation and contribution on digitalization of the financial sector in the Cameroon and the central African states (CEMAC) through pioneering digital transformation of Ecobank in Cameroon in 2017 and managing the rejection of this massive change by the population which ended up with adoption by the population and copycat effect by other banks in the market after seeing the uptake of mobile app; banking cards, online banking platforms; use of digital tokens and cashless ATM withdrawals.


For the country, the core value add has been focused on securing approvals to provide the government of Cameroon incremental strategic direct and indirect facilities well above $700 million focused on key sectors and projects which contributed to the economic development of the country.

In the community, I engage with various stakeholders and participate in any initiative that can impact lives directly or indirectly. From speaking at university graduation ceremonies, as living proof that a graduate from our local universities can rise to the top of organizations, to speaking to women in women associations, to encourage women that career aspirations can work successfully with personal lives. I sponsor young people from homes that cannot afford university fees to give them an opportunity to better themselves and their lives and contribute to building the Africa we want to see. And through my role as CEO, I ensure our internship program is transparent and inclusive to give access to children who will not have “connections” to gain internships opportunities otherwise.

The continent at large

As far as the continent of Africa is concerned, I have been invited to speak at various conferences by various organizations because of the visibility from being the first female CEO of a private commercial bank in Cameroon. Think tanks such as the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) of India focused on developing partnerships between African countries and India took me on as key speaker and participants at conferences and strategic exchanges taking place from Cambridge-UK, to Kigali, New Delhi, Morocco. Becoming part of the Kigali Global dialogue, CyFy Africa Technology and Innovation discussions, Total Le Challenge to seek innovators on the continent, Africa Banking forum speaker. Because of this impact and the exposition, I was a World BFSI Congress and Awards 2020 nominee as one of the top most influential leaders and the recent 2021 article by Forbes international on my ascension to leadership but more importantly the impact on the institution, the employees, the country and on other women across the board as first female CEO of a private commercial bank in Cameroon

What role does your organization play in contributing towards achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion in your country? Please feel free to share statistics (If there is anything to brag about, we encourage you to do it).

To promote equality, we ensure compensation, benefits and professional development for all job levels are benched marked and based on country- specific market related data. This information is reviewed annually so that we remain competitive. We promote and deploy women to leadership positions and in male-dominated sectors for skill   development, exposure, and skill transfer. This, we believe systematically improves our organization’s performance.

We introduced flexible work schedules to accommodate diverse family needs, provide scholarships for students and employees to grow the national talent pool and internships to develop youths who are our perspective employees.

At Ecobank, Diversity and inclusion targets are top of mind and tracked through recruitment of minority groups such as women and people who are differently abled, employees with different levels of education, work experience, parental status, and marital status. We invite people with different/innovative ideas to participate in shaping strategies and build competence. Through public/ national holidays, we honour secular and religious beliefs that are the corner stone of our employees’ lives. Through the use of multiple languages, we honour our different cultural backgrounds and heritage. The recognition and celebration of these differences is one of our strengths.

What are some of the unique setbacks and challenges your company encountered during the global pandemic, especially concerning your women workforce?

During the pandemic, some women working from home reported a decrease in productivity at work as they had to support their children with schoolwork and manage their children’s day to day activities during official/working hours.

Another challenge reported was understanding the technology needed for home schooling e.g., Google classroom so they could support their children who were attending classes online. Furthermore, shopping for groceries from online platforms and other household goods are concepts that women had to embrace to ensure their families were catered for. Depression and other mental health issues were reported due to the decrease in face –to face interactions with colleagues at the office and physical isolation as a result of working from home. The year is 2030, and we have miraculously managed to integrate the continent and you are appointed as the first President of the United States of Africa;

What is your dream for our youth and women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the continent?

My dream for our youth and women as leaders is to have well-educated and experienced leaders in various domains of governance; massive participation in political parties and in leadership; increase membership in legislative and regulatory institutions; increase number of heads of public and private organizations; increase number of associations of youth and women in various domains of governance.

For our entrepreneurs, I dream of educated and experienced entrepreneurs in all sectors, with a keen focus on the youth and women moving into  this segment of the economy for better opportunities for self-sustenance as they remain the most vulnerable layer of our population. Equally important would be to create institutions focused on training and delivering value added services to entrepreneurs as well as establishing collaborative relationships with related government entities.

And finally, for professionals, access to great education and training, integration in public and private sectors institutions, as well as embedding a culture that encourages professional excellence and development through established institutions of the states.

What three key policies will you implement to advance the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance?

The three key policies which I will implement to advance the ideals of Pan Africanism and vision of Africa’s Renaissance would be:

  • Fiscal and monetary Policy to regulate economic activity over time.
  • Foreign policy to ensure we protect each country’s core values and interest, national security, ideological goals, as well as economic prosperity so Africa can play a more central role in international politics given that Africa is the continent with biggest opportunities and potential for upcoming years.
  • African Nationality Policy to remove the limitations and demarcations of borders              
    within Africa,                          a “statelessness” so our focus should be on making our countries prosperous than focusing on nationality. Let’s truly work on being one people…stronger and united.

Pearls of Wisdom Interview: SAWIL Trailblazers Interview with Gwendoline Abunaw – YouTube

Top 10 Trailblazer, Seventh Place – Dr Malebogo Bakwena, Head of Department: University of Botswana

As a trailblazing woman with a voice and a seat at the table, what is your core value- add to your


I mentor aspiring young economists, both my students but also junior staff members in the department I lead as well as sister departments such as Statistics. My mentoring is not only about being the voice of young economics professionals but through it I also aim to help young women navigate through the peculiar challenges faced by professional women, particularly in the male dominated field of economics. E.g., one of my mentees struggled with finding a Master’s degree dissertation project supervisor due to pregnancy. I only got to learn years later that though I readily accepted to supervise her and said to her “ what’s the big deal with being pregnant” everyone else had been apprehensive about supervising a pregnant student thus overlooking her academic capabilities . Another instance is where a student was enrolled in a collaborative Masters programme in Nairobi, Kenya only to have pregnancy complications and ultimately lose the baby just a few days before departure. Under normal circumstance she would have lost out on the opportunity. Though I didn’t have to, I ensured that she was able to present and defend her case for a second chance—she ultimately graduated top of her class.


Capacity building and mentorship through leadership on research dealing with socio- economic issues such as unemployment, gender wage pay gap, poverty and localisation of Sustainable Development Goals. I have worked with a research team comprising of young economists from a local university (Ba Isago University) and other departments of the University of Botswana.


Mentorship of young women and girls, with a view of them looking at me and think “If a girl from rural Botswana has done it, why can’t I”. For instance, I recently held mentorship moments on leadership and leading an impactful life with Miss Botswana 2021 Top 16 finalists. I also have the opportunity to mentor young girls over a period of six

(6) weeks in the Girls for  Girls movement with a view to instilling in them the courage and the hunger to lead. As the chairperson of the Board of the Competition and Consumer Authority I advocate for protection of consumer rights and control of unfair business prices.

The continent at large;

I was a member of the Advisory Academic

Board of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) that advocated for the decision to accommodate expectant mothers or mothers with toddlers (and helpers if they so wish) to attend the Joint Faculty of Electives. A milestone achievement given that prior to that most female students who were either pregnant or were mothers to young children were excluded from the programme due to those circumstances. The uptake of the programme has since increased as a result.

What role does your organization play in contributing towards achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion in your country? Please feel free to share statistics (If there is anything to brag about, we encourage you to do it).

One of the core values of the University of Botswana is equity and diversity. The university lives up to this core value by ensuring that the disadvantaged groups of society get equal opportunities to participate in its programmes:

At a high level, the University of Botswana has been recognized as the first and only African university with an implementation plan for Sustainable Development Goals number 4 (SDG4), according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Regional Office for Southern Africa (UNESCO ROSA). The SDG

4 (inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities) is embedded in teaching programmes. Unlike its counterparts, the University of Botswana doesn’t only have teaching, research and learning programmes which incorporate SDGs but it also has an SDG operational plan. Since 2016, the University has a committee in place to spearhead and coordinate the University’s participation in the implementation of SDGs.

At an operational level

  1. For same work done, women are paid same wages as male counterparts. The pay structure leaves no room for wage discrimination according to gender
  2. For recruitment, women are given equal opportunity and in instances where they are at par with male counterparts, they are given priority
  3. Women students and employees are free to bear children and maternity leave is embedded into the University Regulations.
  4. Academic accommodation for disabled students: The university ensures access for all by having a stand-alone Disability unit that works hand in hand with academic departments to level the playing field for students with any kind of disability
  5. The majority of the faculty executive of the Faculty of Social Sciences (in which my department falls) predominantly comprise of women (5 out of 8 are women)

What are some of the unique setbacks and challenges your company encountered during the global pandemic, especially concerning your women workforce?

Loss of man hours mainly due to having to stay home as care-givers and the psycho-social negative effect of the pandemic. This has led to loss of research output required for academic impact and progression

The year is 2030, and we have miraculously managed to integrate the continent and you are appointed as the first President of the United States of Africa;

  1. What is your dream for our youth and women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the continent?

Would like to leave a legacy of empowered future leaders across the gender divide but with a peculiar soft spot for capable, adventurous and courageous women leaders who:.

(i) Are capable and daring to take up leadership positions without any fear of being reminded of their gender or that they are behaving in an unwomanly manner. Would like to see a world where it’s just leaders, without the “woman” prefix and (ii) have choices and don’t have to settle or choose between career and family i.e., they can have them both and have life partners who are supportive and don’t see them as competitors or be labelled differently by society.

  • What three key policies will you implement to advance the ideals of Pan- Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance?
  • An implementation plan for Africa’s Agenda 2063, paying particular attention to the 7 aspiration/priority areas.

Pearls of Wisdom Interview: SAWIL Trailblazers Interview with Dr Malebogo Bakwena – YouTube

Top 10 Trailblazer, Eighth Place – Dr Anino Emuwa, CEO and Founder: Avandis Consulting

– Nigeria:

My raison d’etre is to advance gender diversity in leadership and to progress entrepreneurship and innovation. I have founded several communities for women in leadership including 100 Women @ Davos and Africa Women CEOs Network. I advocate for inclusion, and I am a member of the Institute of Directors’ Expert Advisory Group on Diversity and Inclusion as well as a Grant Advisory Committee member of the Sustainable and Inclusive Digital Financial Services initiative, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In support of women owned businesses, I sit on boards and advisory boards of several women owned businesses in Europe and Africa. I also volunteer my time to help women and minorities progress. I have been a coach and mentor for Cartier Women’s Initiative, where I have had the privilege to mentor trailblazing female entrepreneurs in several countries in Africa and the Middle East, providing a sounding board, advice, and strategic input. It has been hugely exciting to see two of my mentees win global competitions, raising up to $500,000 in grants and others gaining international recognition, and successfully launch new businesses or initiatives, seeing the impact they are making in their communities; countries and the continent has been extremely rewarding. For the last two years, I have been a judge and mentor on the Africa Business Heroes awards, a philanthropic initiative of the Jack Ma Foundation which selects impact driven entrepreneurs from the continent. My mentorship has also included women professionals from the Chartered Management Institute in the UK, the Nottingham Trent University- where I sit on the board, and Cambridge Enterprise WOMEN.

As a global speaker on diversity and inclusion, I’ve spoken at several influential conferences to advocate for practices that support female entrepreneurship, diversity in emerging technologies and gender equality in leadership alongside the UN, Davos and the French National Assembly. It has been an honour to be recognised as one of the 125 people to follow on LinkedIn about Diversity and Inclusion and to have  received the global award for women in tech ally by Women Tech Network in 2020.  This recognition and award have provided me with the voice to make change and work to support UN SDG 5. target 5.5: To ensure women’s full participation in leadership.

What role does your organization play in contributing towards achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion in your country? Please feel free to share statistics (If there is anything

to brag about, we encourage you to do it).

We convene global and regional communities of women in leadership where we work to progress women’s leadership in support of UN SDG 5. target 5.5: To ensure women’s full participation in leadership through our strategically targeted programmes and events for women in leadership, globally and on the continent. We are Commitment Makers signed up to the UN Women’s Generation Equality Action Coalition on advancing women’s leadership.

We have built a reputation for delivering high- quality, impactful programmes for CEOs and founders, helping them develop strategies, access opportunities, and create a network of supportive peers.

The Avandis for Women universe is a dynamic and impactful network with over 1500 high- achieving CEOs, heads of organizations, founders and entrepreneurs and our programmes have reached tens of thousands of ambitious women round the world.

Our priority for now and the next few years is to amplify their impact by growing our networks and strategic relationships towards accelerating women leadership in the corporate world and in entrepreneurship. That is why I am presently undertaking research on women’s leadership at University of Cambridge as part of the Masters in Entrepreneurship programme.

Unlike its counterparts, the University of Botswana doesn’t only have teaching, research and learning programmes which incorporate SDGs  but it also has an SDG operational plan. Since 2016, the University has a committee in place to spearhead and coordinate the University’s participation in the implementation of SDGs.

At an operational level

  1. For same work done, women are paid same wages as male counterparts. The pay structure leaves no room for wage discrimination according to gender
    1. For recruitment, women are given equal opportunity and in instances where they are at par with male counterparts, they are given priority
    1. Women students and employees are free to bear children and maternity leave is embedded into the University Regulations.
    1. Academic accommodation for disabled students: The university ensures access for all by having a stand-alone Disability unit that works hand in hand with academic departments to level the playing field for students with any kind of disability

What are some of the unique setbacks and challenges your company encountered during the global pandemic, especially concerning your women workforce?

We foresaw the lockdown and due to the risk, we had already closed our offices and our staff were already working from home before lockdown was announced.  Like most we had to stop all in person activities overnight and reformulated.  However, from the beginning, we saw that people had needs and we focused more on support and providing value for our target audience and communities in supporting their firms during lockdown.

successful leadership initiatives, one of which was our virtual Women CEOs Roundtable that has reached women leaders in over 40 countries. Our most recent roundtable discussion on advancing women’s leadership post- pandemic focused on solutions to issues such as alleviating the effects of COVID on women in the workplace.

The year is 2030, and we have miraculously managed to integrate the continent and you are appointed as the first President of the United States of Africa;

  1. What is your dream for our youth and women as leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the continent?

I desire to see more African women leaders in the international sphere like Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Executive director; Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary- General, and Dr Phumzile Mlambo- Ngcuka, Former Under-Secretary- General & Executive Director, UN Women, Former Deputy President of South Africa. I know there are many more women like these who showcase the excellence of women from the continent. Powerful communities of women leaders such as our African Women CEOs Network are a strong and clear indication that we do have African women who are qualified for leadership at the highest level and act as role models for younger women.

In the corporate sphere, there is growing interest in inclusive leadership in organizations and the push to have more women on executive management teams and boards. Interestingly, on the gender balance score card by 20-first, which we collaborated on, we saw that Africa’s top companies did better than their western peers!

Still, there is a long way to go to achieving gender balance, I desire to see a balance scorecard, soon, which will celebrate Africa as leading in the gender balance scale globally.

Our African youth are the future of the continent so I would push  for  more investment in education, particularly in technology, access to primary health care to reduce infant mortality, and freedom from violence particularly for our girl children. All must be done to free all our children from poverty.

  • What three  key  policies  will  you  implement  to  advance  the  ideals  of  Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance?
  • Implementation of Aftca
  • Widening female participation in political and business leadership
  • Enabling an environment for entrepreneurship and innovation especially for the funding and training of women-led ventures.

Pearls of Wisdom Interview: Sawil Trailblazers Interview with Dr Anino Emuwa – YouTube

Top 10 Trailblazer, Nineth Place – Patricia Pedhom Nono – Transformation Director: PWC – Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa.


The core values I add to my organization are “Re-imagining the possible” and “making an impact”.

In fact, as Transformation and Technology leader, my core duties are about  looking at, developing and  implementing innovative and sustainable solutions to solve critical problems my organization or my clients face whether from business, client, operational, commercial or community perspectives.


As I operate in both the professional services and technology sector, my core value-add is my thought leadership around sharing best practices & proven lessons on how to improve Technology Innovation, Digital Transformation & Customer Transformation agenda for my sector through whitepapers, professional podcasts (Customer Bliss), speaking engagements ( CX Global conference – MENA & EMEA), professional conferences (Digital Africa, Digital Banking Forum)


My core value-add both professionally and at civic engagement level for my country is in bringing my contribution in driving Gender Equality (SDG#5) I led the technical design of the 3G Mobile Network and 1st 4G Mobile Network in Cameroon

  • I contributed to the Think Tank to develop the National ID Database and the model developed was highly recommended by Ministry of Telecommunications to entire value chain
  • Led the “redesign” of our National Telecommunication Operators to become more competitive while keeping its social impact.
  • Participated in several think tanks with Government agencies on critical topics such as national security matters and digital economy.
  • Participated in education-led program as Lecturer in  universities or Mentor/Coach in STEM programs to drive more women inclusion in Engineering/Technical career

The continent at large

In addition to the above that also impacts the continent, one of my core value-add for the continent at large is driving the “servant leadership” agenda and contributing to the next generation of African leaders.

In fact, I am very convinced that Africa is not lacking resources nor skills but rather not enough visionary, impactful and community-focus leaders to harness our resources and skills and transform it into the Africa we want. I also believe that this would help SDG#16 of developing peace, justice, and stronger organizations.

My mission here is to drive awareness around leadership at service and build a community of 1 million young servant leaders by 2025, who will be equipped to grow their way into decision-making positions and use their servant leadership skills to advance   the   African   continent. In this regards, my LinkedIn series (#7habits of Servant Leaders), my new released book (#X-FACTOR or spiritual secrets behind successful leaders and entrepreneurs) and my  Leadership academy (#LeadTitude Academy)  are among the vehicles I used to increase advocacy.

What role does your organization play in contributing towards achieving equality, diversity, and inclusion in your country? Please feel free to share statistics (If there is anything to brag about, we encourage you to do it).

My organization (PwC) is very intentional about building on a culture of belonging. Our journey starts back in 1993 as a global organization. We have managed to reach in 2020 full cascade across all PwC representations in the word andwe even published our 1st DEI transparent report (DEI) the same year.

1993:  named Best  company  for  “working


2001: First woman elected to the Global “

Board of Partners & Principals”

2003: A position of Chief Diversity Officer elevated to Executive level

2004: Began consistent approach to Diversity as business imperative

2011: Launched the 1st breakthrough leadership class for Women Partner candidates.

2014: Joined the He4She program and PwC recognized as an impact champion.

2016: most diverse leadership team appointed in the firm’s history

2017: CEO Action of the Day for Diversity, Equality & Inclusion launched

2018:  Inclusive  leadership  training  class

rolled out across entire organization

2019: 50% of women in Global Board of Partners & Principals and more than 25% in regional boards

2020:   Inclusive   leadership   training   class

mandatory for all

I will ask my core team to think thank about the right policies that will enabled the below

  1. Africa by Africans – promoting intra- Africa collaboration to create synergies and progressively reducing Africa dependencies to Western countries on key areas such as policy making, economic development investment funding and security protection.
  2. Made in Africa – promoting industrial know-how and production in priority sectors to increase Africa footprint in global commerce exchange and reduce non-Africa importation for commodity products
  3. Africans for Africa – developing a governance mechanism to support transparency, community-focus strategy. Creating a stimulating environment and policies to emulate African leadership & organizations that think Africa interest first prior personal interests.

Pearls of Wisdom Interview: SAWIL Trailblazers Interview with Patricia Pedhom Nono – YouTube

Phumzile Mlambo – Ngcuka: Honorary Awardee 2021

Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka was celebrated with an Honorary Award for the contribution she made, whilst at the helm UN Women as its Executive Director, towards the advancement of women and girl-children globally.


UJ appoints Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as its Chancellor

The Council of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) is pleased to announce the appointment of former United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, as its new Chancellor. Her five- year term of office will run from 1 October 2022 until 30 September 2027. She will succeed Professor Njabulo Ndebele, whose second five-year term as Chancellor ends 30 September 2022.

Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ng Cuka was a member of the first South African   democratically   elected   Parliament   in   1994,  first   as deputy minister in the Department of Trade and Industry (1994 – 1996) and as minister of Minerals and Energy (1999 – 2005). She later became the Deputy President of South Africa (2005 – 2008), the highest-ranking female political leader in the history of the country.

Throughout her illustrious political career, Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka directed her energy towards issues of human rights, equality, and social justice, with a specific emphasis on gender and youth development. She has a track record of giving back to her communities, dating back to the pre-1994 years when she was a teacher and a lecturer. She continued in this vein when she moved to Geneva, where she took up the position of coordinator at the World YCWA, a grassroots-driven, global movement rooted in the leadership of women, young women, and girls. While in this role, she established a programme for young women (1984 – 1989), among other roles.

Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women in 2013.

As the head of the United Nations entity that is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, she was a global advocate for women and girls. She led the organisation’s innovative work on transforming social inequalities and discriminatory norms, with initiatives such as the HeforShe movement (driving men and boys’ engagement in gender equality), the UnStereotype Alliance initiative (influencing advertising norms for positive change and equal representation) and helped countries to change hundreds of laws that discriminate against women and girls.

Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka has also successfully mobilised a historic 40 billion USD in financial commitments from Member States, private sector, philanthropies, and civil society as well as young people, which have formed Generational Equality to drive transformative change for women and girls around the world. She continues to be engaged and affiliated with organisations committed to education, women empowerment, and gender equality. Such affiliations include the Umlambo Foundation (Founder), the Global Partnership and Fund to End Violence Against Children (BoardMember), African Leadership Academy (Member of the Advisory Board) and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation (Board of Trustees).

Details of Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka’s inauguration will be announced later. Says UJ Registrar, Professor Kinta Burger: “UJ’s approach to impact reflects the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – something that Dr. Mlambo- Ngcuka, in her capacity as UN Executive Director of UN Women, has cherished and led. Indeed, she embodies all the UJ values and aspirations, values, where equality, diversity and inclusivity have been part of the University’s success story.”

The Chair of UJ Council, Mr. Mike Teke, says: “The position of Chancellor at UJ demands a person of stature, exemplary moral and ethical values, someone who will not shy away from addressing some of our greatest challenges and someone who will speak for those who often have no voice in society. Such a person is indeed Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka. She is a distinguished person with a demonstrable record of excellence, leadership for the betterment of society, and service to her community.  We look forward to her contribution towards our vision: An international University of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future”.

Mr Teke also paid tribute to the outgoing Chancellor, Prof Ndebele. “Prof Njabulo Ndebele has immensely contributed to UJ’s strategic direction and its growth trajectory on the research front with admirable research outputs. This has helped the University in positioning itself as an important player in the higher education sector, both locally and internationally.”

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal, is also pleased with Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka’s appointment. “As the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President in South Africa, Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka provided political oversight to several programmes to combat poverty and bring advantages of a growing economy to the poor. In doing so, she embraced the technologies that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) provides, using ICTs for development. She would, therefore, be a most excellent ambassador for UJ’s approach for social justice and 4IR.”

About Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka

Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka was born in 1955 in Claremont, KwaZulu- Natal. After matriculating from the Ohlange High School in Inanda, and in pursuit of scholarly excellence, she enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts (in Social Sciences) at  the National University in Lesotho (awarded in 1980), obtained a qualification  in Gender Policy and Planning from the University College, London (in 1988), a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Cape Town (2003), and a Doctorate in Engineering from Warwick University (awarded in 2013).

She has given back to her community, first as a lecturer at the Mpumalanga Teachers Training College (1980 to 1981) and subsequently as a teacher at the Ohlange High School (1981 to 1983). She then moved to Geneva and took up the position of coordinator at the World YWCA, where she established a global programme for young women (1984 to 1989). During this time, she also spearheaded TEAM, a developmental organisation based in Cape Town which focussed on upskilling women in informal settlements, thereby promoting economic self- reliance.

As the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President, Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka provided political oversight to several programmes to combat poverty and bring the advantages of a growing economy to the poor. In doing so, she embraced the technologies that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) provides, using Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs: -the topic of her doctoral thesis) for development.

Despite an extraordinary workload, she continues to be affiliated with organisations devoted to education, women’s empowerment, and gender equity.

These include the Umlambo Foundation (Founder), the Global Partnership and Fund to End Violence Against Children (Board Member), thePrincess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa Global Award for Women’s Empowerment (Member of the Jury), African Leadership Academy (Member of the Advisory Board), and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation (Board of Trustees).

She has authored several scholarly and other opinion pieces, including in the Harvard International Review. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Witwatersrand Technikon (in 2003), one of the precursor institutions of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the University of the Western Cape (in 2007), Nelson Mandela University (in 2014), the University of Fort Hare (in 2016), Wits University (in 2019), and Rhodes University (in 2020).

She was inducted as a Hauser Leader at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership and awarded the Vanguard award by Howard University for Leadership and Activism in promoting human rights, equality and justice for women and girls across the globe.

“On behalf of SAWIL, I would like to congratulate the powerful, pioneering force that is Ma’am Phumzile on her appointment as the University of Johannesburg’s new Chancellor. Her timely installation is quite a considerable feat for the university, taking into account Dr Phumzile’s wealth of knowledge and experience acquired both here at home at the highest office in our land, and of course, her two-term service at the United Nations (the largest and most intergovernmental institution in the world). We commend the University of Johannesburg for this appointment, a step in the right direction to steer the university to greater heights of global competitive advantage. We wish all parties involved the very best going forward.” –      Seipati Mokhuoa,  SAWIL  Executive Chairperson.

Personal Branding for Leaders:  How the  brand  “I” makes

you successful in your professional and private life

Personal branding isn’t just for social media influencers. Cue Sibiya, a reputation manager, shares how leaders can also benefit greatly by developing a personal brand that sets them apart.

The term “personal branding” raises the hairs of some, who fear that it implies a lack of authenticity or a desire to “market” yourself to the point of pretence.  But that’s not true. Instead, personal branding is simply another term for your professional reputation – something that most professionals would agree is important to their future success. Thinking strategically about your personal brand means starting to take control of your reputation and ensuring it reflects who you really are. Personal branding

The first step, then, is being clear about the message you would like to project. Sometimes people conflate your personal brand with your “elevator pitch” – the short, pithy statement that describes who you are in 10 seconds.

That is one element of your personal brand, but your brand is actually much more far-reaching: it is the totality of the message you send when people look at things like how you dress, how you speak, who you hang out with, what organisations you’re a member of, what charities you support, whether and where you are a guest speaker, the topics you talk about, and so on.

That means your personal brand is not just something you tell people; it is something you live out every day, which is why authenticity is so crucial.


Even if you wanted to, you can’t sustain phoniness over time. Instead, the far better solution is to determine what is unique and powerful about who you are and find ways to leverage that to your professional advantage.

I often recommend that executives start with a quick, informal poll of a few friends or colleagues: if you only had three words to describe me, what would they be? This forces people to focus and only list what they view as your most important characteristics. After you speak with three or four people, you’ll begin to see patterns that can be quite illuminating. It’s essential to compare the adjectives you hear with the ones that are necessary for where you want to go.

Demonstrate your brand

It is important to demonstrate your brand. Particularly if you’re “rebranding” – wanting to shift people’s perceptions to see you in a new light – it can be useful to harness the element of surprise. Volunteer for a project that highlights new skills in the direction you’re looking to rebrand yourself or start a new initiative.

Creating content is also valuable. It has never been easier to start a blog or be published in numerous publications.  In most companies, the marketing team will love you if you volunteer to help write posts.

Creating content is a powerful way to showcase your expertise; instead of people citing outside “experts” to validate their position, they are going to start citing you and the things they read in your articles. And anytime a client or prospective client mentions a challenge they’re facing, it is enormously powerful to be able to say:  “I  just  wrote about that; let me send you a link.” Other strategies to investigate include media interviews, thought leadership, speaking engagements, and social media.

I always advise my clients that the best way to ensure your brand as a leader spreads throughout your organisation is to make an effort to network. Not in the sense of going to “networking events” and trading business cards – instead, it is about breaking out of the ruts that we typically fall into as professionals. Most people eat lunch with the same people and talk with the same colleagues all the time.

It is easy and comfortable, but it is also a mistake.  Something as simple as inviting one new person in a different department out for lunch each week can have a dramatic impact on your ability to access best practices, connect with others,  hear about opportunities and add value to your organisation.

Networking doesn’t have to be an exhausting form of glad- handing; rather, it is about keeping yourself open to new encounters and new possibilities and ensuring that you don’t allow your connections to stagnate. If you want to keep your career moving forward, it is important to do the same with your network.

Undoubtedly, personal branding is a powerful way to distinguish yourself as a leader. When done right, it is the ultimate form of authenticity because it makes clear the value you can add and draws people to you, specifically. An investment in these strategies is one of the best forms of career insurance you can make.

Cue Sibiya is a reputation manager who teaches business executives the fundamentals of personal branding. You can follow him on social media @cuesibiya

The 2021 Trailblazers Awards Gallery!

Founder and Executive Chairperson, Seipati Mokhuoa addressing the audience before announcing the Top 10 winners.

Ecobank Team from Cameroon celebrating their leader, Gwendoline ABUNAW

Dr Claudelle Von Eck launching the SAWIL Journal

The night that was

Red carpet

Red carpet

Red carpet

Any guesses where the next trailblazers

awards are going to be held?


Reputation management is a board-level priority

Janine Hills Authentic Leadership CEO and Coaching Partner at SAWIL. Janine Hills says there is a direct correlation between reputation, trust and sustainable business.

Business reputation has been in the spotlight in the past few years, both in South Africa and globally, with crises frequently damaging affected organisations’ bottom lines. According to the Business Dictionary, reputation management is the process of identifying what people are saying or feeling about a business or brand and taking steps to ensure that the general consensus is in line with the company’s positioning.

A strong and positive reputation is not built overnight but takes years of careful management and evolution. However, one bad or careless decision can wipe out years of effort and rapidly put your organisation’s reputation into the gutter.

In the age of social media and instant communication, never before have reputational crises been so rapidly publicised. Just a hint of malfeasance, fraud, corruption or unethical behaviour can be enough to destroy a company’s reputation, send its share price crashing and its investors fleeing for the hills.

There is a direct correlation between reputation, trust and the ability to be a sustainable business. Anything a business does that erodes the trust of its customers, shareholders, suppliers and employees can damage its reputation and ultimately threaten its sustainability.

So vital is corporate reputation – and the protection of corporate reputation – to the effective functioning of a business, that safeguarding it needs to be a board-level priority. This means that not only must board members have the right credentials to act in this position, but also an understanding of both corporate reputation management and personal reputation management.

The need for reputation management experts

Board members need to understand that their behaviour and actions away from the boardroom can reflect on the organisation they represent. As such they need to be mindful of what they post on social media and what they say  in media interviews, taking into consideration how their actions and words could be construed.

Corporate reputation must be considered in relation to every single decision the business makes. The challenge is that most boards and senior executives  – both in South  Africa and globally – don’t include a reputation management expert.   This can be disastrous when a crisis occurs. Without a reputation specialist to prioritise the practice at board level, there is typically no strategy in place for dealing with the crisis or any potential fallout. How do you suddenly craft a holding statement, who dictates the tone of the messaging, and who is quoted as the spokesperson of the company? Without a plan in place, the result is often a disjointed and ineffective message that leaves the company on the back foot.

The expertise to handle a crisis needs to be present on the board, which in turn needs to be collectively accountable. A board expert needs to be somebody with reputation management experience rather than just media experience – the latter on its own could inadvertently bring the organisation into even more disrepute. Uber is a good example of a company that frequently made the news for all the wrong reasons until the appointment of Ariana Huffington to its board. Within months the company was handling its reputation much more professionally.

At Janine Hills Authentic Leadership we consider nine equally important dimensions when evaluating a business’s reputation management. These include ethical business practice; transparency; social responsibility; behavioural intention; trust; management quality; marketing and sales effectiveness; innovativeness; the quality of the company’s products and services; its attractiveness as an employer; and business performance.

It’s vitally important to induct new board members, particularly with regard to reputation management, so that each individual understands the protocol to follow in the event of a crisis and so that comments from the board don’t automatically always default to the board chair. Ideally, different board members should be mandated to comment on different areas.

Similarly, the expectations that the organisation has  for board members, as well as senior executives in terms of reputation, need to be clarified. For example, they need to be told how they are expected to behave at corporate and social functions, and when they can and can’t make statements to the media.

One of the most important committees on any board is the audit and risk committee. Risk management forms an integral part of reputation management and the individuals who sit on this committee should have the expertise to advise on any issues that could pose a risk to the company.

Just as important as the audit and risk committee is the remuneration committee, given that this is where issues such as fraud and human resources issues such as suspensions generally tend to reside.  It is the responsibility of the remuneration committee to evaluate whether remuneration is in line with the marketplace and that references have been correctly checked prior to both employees and board members being appointed.

It’s a science

At the board level, particularly for individuals who sit on these two committees, careful attention to detail is essential. Having a reputation management specialist on these committees is hugely valuable, as they tend  to  consider issues from a different angle. They’re able to highlight decisions that may not be aligned with the company culture, values or ethics, and red flag them before they cause the company reputational damage.

Part of the role of reputation management is ensuring that employees understand and support decisions made by the board and that internal and external communication are working together in the best interests of the reputation of the organisation. As Richard Branson has said: “A brand is only as strong as its people. Make sure your people understand that they, too, are responsible for the business’s reputation.” Reputation management is increasingly a science that requires both high IQ and high EQ. There is a fine line that the reputation management specialist needs to walk between balancing the needs and reputation of the organisation, and the needs and rights of any individuals accused or implicated in wrongdoing. Knee-jerk reactions are out of the question, and you can’t jump to conclusions. This is why it’s imperative to have pre-prepared holding statements ready to be disseminated while you set up an urgent enquiry to establish the facts of the matter.

So vital has reputation management become to any business that it can no longer be regarded as part of the communication portfolio but should form part of the company’s forward planning strategy. Reputation management has developed into its own discipline and is now a critical element of risk management, rather than being merely public relations on steroids. Failure to give it the attention it deserves puts the business itself at risk.

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Janine Hills is the founder and CEO of Janine Hills Authentic Leadership.


What Do African Men Bring To The Table? – Lungelo Lamula,

Our Founder and Executive Chairperson, Seipati Mokhuoa, recently attended a Twitter space hosted by a relentless feminist group called: The African Feminist Coven.

Over 1500 women and men from all over Africa congregated to discuss one of the appalling questions women, especially African women, are constantly subjected to these days by patriarchal African men who refuse to acknowledge and accept gender equality but want to reap its benefits, particularly in romantic relationships.

“What Do You Bring to The Table, Besides Your…?” A question often posed to women by (mostly African) men who are still entrenched in patriarchy. However, this time around, the Feminist Group posed the exact question directing it towards men in a public domain where people could voluntarily share their views. In this article we share some shocking revelations worth exploring beyond the Twitter Space.

We asked one of the representatives from the Twitter Space organizers, Lungelo Lamula, to share some of the key takeaways from that evening.

“I am part of a feminist group that was formed via Twitter, consisting of women from all over Africa, after we were shunned on a Twitter space and called “a coven of witches” for calling out marital rape, sexual coercion and sexism. We didn’t know each other, but we were united in opinion and our passion for human rights, specifically Women and LGBTQ+ rights.

We then decided to embrace that name and form a group to discuss                 triggering   Twitter   spaces   and   share   feminist ideologies. We call ourselves the “African Feminist Coven.” The topic “What Do Men Bring to The Table?” came about because we were tired of seeing women being dragged on social media by the statement that they bring nothing to the table other than sex or good looks. The point of the Twitter Space was to highlight how invalid the question is and how women’s contributions to relationships are undervalued. The question also highlighted the fact that traditional gender roles have become outdated.

Most men’s responses were based on traditional gender roles: Provision, Protection and Leadership; a fascinating turn considering the fact that the whole conversation originated from women being bashed for having a preference for men with stability and money. This is not valid in today’s world because:

  1. Provision – Men are no longer the sole breadwinners because women also work and can provide for themselves, which the men acknowledged.  Seemingly, this was also the reason they bashed women but were now conveniently offering to take up this role.
  2. Protection – Men could not fully elaborate on who they would be protecting women from, given that most of the violence against women is perpetrated by men known to them, such as spouses.
  3. Leadership – When asked to elaborate on this point the description they gave was of partnerships as opposed to leadership.

Despite men insisting on these gender roles and the notion that men are natural warriors, leaders and builders, they had never fought in any war, built anything or held any position of responsibilities in their entire lives. This narrative might have been valid in the past, but we demonstrated that this does not hold water in today’s world.

It is also important to note that, although men were against the notion of equality and feminism, almost all of them acknowledged that they needed to work together with women for modern-day relationships to work. It drives home the point that patriarchy is not sustainable, and men cannot maintain the patriarchal standards required of them, such as sole provision.

There were also fascinating answers, such as men who said they bring sperms to the table, their mothers (meaning whatever mommy taught while growing up) and others who maintained that they WERE the table and that it is a woman’s sole responsibility to prove what they bring to the table.

On a positive spin, some answers, albeit very few, stood out and supported the message that the controversial question aimed to drive home – the penny indeed dropped for some. These were from the men who had understood the point of the question, emphasizing that the proverbial table is non- existent. These men categorically stated that relationships are based on partnerships, and individuals must look for partners who complement them and have qualities that they are looking for, specifically those that align with their own goals.

In closing, society needs to understand that women today contribute financially, but they still bear all the responsibilities imposed on them by patriarchy, such as raising children, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the general upkeep of the home. In addition to that, they also bear the emotional burden and the responsibility of improving their partners. What has become more apparent to us through these discussions and interactions is that many African men desire a paradox in which they hold onto the privilege of patriarchy whilst simultaneously gaining from the justice of feminist interventions.

Lungelo Lamula 33. Educator, Cape Town.

African Feminist Coven

SAWIL 2021 Year Review and the 2022 plans

by Seipati Mokhuoa

As challenging as 2021 was for most of us, we still had plenty of opportunities to uplift, empower and add our unique tone to the resounding global voice aimed at challenging the status quo and negotiating equality and fairness for women and girl children across the globe.

Africa Strategy

I founded SAWIL in 2014 with one objective in mind: to empower the woman leader, enable a girl child, advocate for leadership transformation, gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace, especially in Corporate South Africa.

Amongst the many milestones I have achieved since the birth of SAWIL to where it is now, my proudest moment has to be finding a tribe of like-minded, trailblazing gender equality advocates through the SAWIL Trailblazers Awards.

End of February 2021,  after  seven  years  of  running  SAWIL operationally and otherwise, I announced  my  transition from Chief Executive Officer of SAWIL to Executive Chairperson, where I would be focusing more on the SAWIL Vision 2030 mandate and strategy.

As Chairperson, I’d be mainly responsible for the expansion strategy into Africa and the Diaspora. I would also be responsible for key partnerships, sponsorships, funding, and global collaborations.


Here’s a look at some of the noteworthy milestones:

Between   March-May   2021,  we   appointed   the   following individuals to help move the strategy forward:

Dr Tebogo Mashifana – Chief Executive Officer. Moloko Komane – Executive Director, Africa.

Fatima Packery – Director of Golf.

Nollie Maoto – Country Head, South Africa.

Kuda-Tshiamo Kgati – Country Head, Botswana.

Moloko Komane, in her new role as ED for Africa, within a brief period, appointed these extremely driven powerhouses who were instrumental in rapidly and successfully shifting the dial in East and West Africa :

Karika Yonrome – Country Head, Nigeria. Marie-Rose Daya – Country Head, Cameroon. Susan Kayemba – Country Head, Uganda.

With the new structure in place, Nollie Maoto (One of the inaugural SAWIL Trailblazers Top 10 winners in 2020) assumed the Country Head role for South Africa. In the first month with us, she established a Lean-In-Circle monthly meet up where she brought renowned speakers to engage, teach and encourage our members and communities on a monthly. We made an executive decision to avail the sessions to all our (over 3000) community members irrespective of membership status. (Details available on the website)

She also appointed the following Chapter Leaders:

Ncumisa Hlapo – Johannesburg Central Nothemba Kula – Johannesburg North Marianne Segooa – Johannesburg North

This new team of Country Heads and Chapter Leaders played a significant role in ensuring that Brand  SAWIL,  especially the SAWIL Trailblazers Awards, were well-marketed in the applicable countries where we now had a strong footprint.

The reception by the said countries (and the surrounding countries) and chapters was nothing short of overwhelming. We knew there and then that we had hit the mark.

We aimed to grow to at least 15 countries between East, West and Central Africa; however, we quickly realised that it would be utterly irresponsible considering the reception and growth we enjoyed within such a concise period of expanding to these Regions. The demand was evidently higher than our capacity in terms of supply.

Solutions and Partners:

Having partnered with Board Academy Europe in 2020 to establish Board Academy Africa, this was an opportunity for us to focus on deliverables. Through our partnership with Board Academy, we have trained and placed over 77 board members in 2021 alone. Board Academy, through our Executive Chairperson, who is a partner at BA are our only sponsor for the past two years. We acknowledge Guido Happe and the Board Academy Europe Team for their passion for Africa and especially the employment opportunities we created together.  In 2020 and  2021,  the  Academy  sponsored Global Board Training to the value of R900 000 ($65000) in prizes to the SAWIL Trailblazers Awardees.

At the outset of 2021, I also introduced a new concept where we partnered with established coaches and management consultants/firms with formidable track records to assist with Executive, Personal or Career Coaching, Board Training and Placements, Leadership Training, Public Speaking Training and Entrepreneurship Development.

The coaching partner initiative culminated in appointing some of the most experienced and respected coaches, facilitators, and partners in Africa and the Diaspora.

  1. Rosemary Chambe  – Jairo – Executive  Advisor,  Africa


  • Guido Happe – Advisory Board Member and Partner (Board Academy)
  • Dr Claudelle von Eck Advisor to Executive chair, Executive Coaching Partner: Africa, Board Academy Facilitator (Brave Inflexions)
  • Janine Hills – International Reputation Expert (Authentic Leadership)
  • Dion Johnson – Coaching Partner: Africa (The Womanologist)

Our Footprint:

According to our Web traffic, monthly engagements and feedback, training and coaching sessions, masterclasses, and workshops   in   2021,  SAWIL   was   presented   and   enjoyed substantial participation from five continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. With this kind of reception, which was far more than what we bargained for as a growing company that had just expanded – a good pause and strategic focus on the new members, partners, and growing community is what indeed kept us going in 2021.

We also launched a membership networking platform where members and the SAWIL community can connect directly with one another, share ideas, growth opportunities, jobs, board roles, funding opportunities etc.

For more, please join our very own Networking Platform: SAWIL Engage. N/B only registered members can access the full bouquet. Visit to join

Our aim is to be the largest membership platform in Africa and the Diaspora for women leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals who are intentional about lifting as they rise.

We encourage you to join the movement by partnering with us as an individual or corporate member.

SAWIL Engage.: to register


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