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The 2015 BWA Businesswoman Of The Year Winners

Tamara Oberholster

Meet the 2015 Businesswoman of the Year Award (BWOYA) winners: inspiring leaders who have made their mark in business, whether as entrepreneurs or in the corporate or public sector.
BWOTYA Winners BWOTYA Winners

The Businesswoman Of the Year Awards (BWOYA), run by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWA), has, since 1980, honoured women for their contribution to business in South Africa. The awards recognise the success of women leaders in all sectors of the economy. BWOYA candidates are peer-nominated, and entry is open to women of all ages, backgrounds and stages in their careers, as long as they meet the various nomination criteria.

The awards raise funds for the BWA Bursary Fund, distributed through the BWA branches around the country to assist deserving women in funding their tertiary studies.


Tembela Kulu, Gauteng provincial manager at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa)

Tembela Kulu has diverse work experience, having been a public affairs manager at the Cape Town branch of Metrorail, the spokesperson for the then-Minister of Public Service and Administration, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, GM for corporate communications at Land Bank, and a major-general in the South African Police Service (SAPS). She is currently pioneering the formation of Ekurhuleni’s Women Enterprise Forum, to champion the cause of women in the rail business. Kulu is a Social Science graduate from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and holds an Honours degree in Business Administration from the University of Stellenbosch’s Executive Development Leadership Programme. She is currently studying towards an MBA with Regent University.

Best career decision: “Going to UCT helped me to make sure my career would prosper, and joining the SAPS has been one of the most exciting things I’ve done. My journey with Prasa has also been important. I think my best decision is to be part of influential organisations that are changing the world.”

Leadership lesson: “You’ve got to persevere in whatever you do. You’ll fall, but you have to stand up, dust yourself off and keeping moving forward.”

On the role of BWOYA: “It’s important for women, for black women and women across all races, to use the opportunity and platform BWOYA gives us. It’s important to support the BWA and to ensure that the organisation consistently demonstrates the importance of the role of women in business and women empowerment.”

Nosipho Siwisa-Damasane, CEO of Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT)

Nosipho Siwisa-Damasane is the first female CEO of RBCT, an operation that is 100% dependent on rail logistics and port marine services, with the Transnet Freight Rail and the Transnet National Port Operation. She has a BCom in Accounting from the University of the Transkei and is studying towards an MBA in sustainability at Rhodes Business School. She has attended the Senior Executive Programme in both Singapore and London. In November 2014, she was awarded the Institute of People Management (IPM) CEO of the Year award.

Best career decision: “I declined a job offer from the Transkei Development Corporation and chose to do my articles. This decision led my career to where it is today – joining the port industry and the lessons that came with it, as well as the mechanics of the economy and the infrastructure development projects that I’ve been involved in.”

Leadership lesson: “Take the opportunities that come your way, be your best and don’t bang the door behind you – let other women in. Have an open-door policy, allow people in your space, let them tap into your knowledge and expertise, and don’t rank them.”

On the role of the BWA in her career: “The BWA has increased my networking capabilities and given me the opportunity to meet like-minded women who share the same challenges. It has also been a platform for me to share my experiences with other women.

Lee den Hond, owner of Blue Platinum Events

Lee den Hond is a businesswoman, inspirational speaker, athlete and optimist who believes that nothing is impossible. She founded her events company 15 years ago and has grown Blue Platinum Events to specialise in the creative architecture of large-scale corporate events, from conceptualisation to delivery and execution, offering her clients a turnkey service. Lee has drawn huge inspiration for her business from her lifelong focus on sport. She has completed four full Ironman endurance events.

Best career decision: “Taking a risk to start a business instead of working in a business. Jumping at the exciting opportunity to start a company 15 years ago, when I had only experienced working in the corporate environment.”

Leadership lesson: “Realise the power of positive reinforcement. I believe that ‘no one does it on their own’. As a leader in business, it is imperative to keep the momentum of empowerment and inspiration constantly going. If each leader could influence and inspire people, a phenomenal cycle of growth and success would be created.”

On the role of BWOYA in South Africa: “Anyone recognised by the BWA is a winner. It makes one realise the power of women in South Africa. With the various contributions that women make in their individual capacities, it has a collective result that showcases the powerful force that women are, from government and corporate South Africa to entrepreneurs, which makes me very proud to be a woman in this country today.”

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