The powerhouse employment funder, Philisiwe Buthelezi, and dynamite medical and dental supplier, Nondumiso Mzizana, scooped the 2011 Businesswomen’s Association (BWA) Businesswoman of the Year Awards in the corporate and entrepreneurial categories respectively.
The two winners were announced by the BWA and their partners, Nedbank and Telkom, at the annual gala event held at Vodaworld in Midrand on Thursday, 18 August. Philisiwe Buthelezi is the CEO at National Empowerment Fund, and Dr Nondumiso Mzizana is the CEO of Sikelela Medical, Dental and Pharmaceuticals.
Former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, was the keynote speaker at the event.
Supported by financial services partner, Nedbank, the annual Businesswomen’s Association Businesswoman of the Year Award has grown considerably in stature over the past 32 years, and continues to profile women with exceptional leadership and business acumen.
BWA president, Kunyalala Maphisa, stressed the organisation’s ongoing focus on strengthening the role and impact of women across all areas of business.
“It is fitting that we are honouring the country’s top women in business during Women’s Month. It is also  gratifying to note that women continue to make great strides in the business world, although there is still a long way to go to achieve more equal representation of women on many levels of business activity,” says Maphisa.
“The standard of entries received improves with each year, and 2011 is no exception. Ms Buthelezi and Dr Mzizana are very worthy and deserving winners,” she continues.
Commenting on behalf of Nedbank, chief executive Mike Brown reiterated that transformation of the South Africa’s business landscape required a concerted effort and partnership on the part of both Government and the private sector.
“It is through events such as the BWA Business Woman of the Year award that leading women in business are given the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities and achievements,” says Brown.
Buthelezi, who holds MSc and MBA degrees, has been with the National Empowerment Fund for seven years, and oversees an annual budget if R1-billion. Her experiences encompass both private and public sector activities, and provide the NEF with unparalleled understanding of the environment in which the organisation operates.
Prior to joining the NEF, Buthelezi worked for a French investment bank in London, was responsible for risk management control at the South African Reserve Bank, and worked in the treasury division at Standard Corporate and Merchant Bank.
Illustrating her wide-ranging financial and business expertise, she is also chairperson of construction company Group Five, and sits on the boards of Mvelaphanda Resources and Sanlam.
While employed by the DTI, she headed up the Black Economic Empowerment unit, which played a major role in developing the government’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment strategy, BBBEE legislation and codes of good conduct.
Winner in the entrepreneurial category, Dr Mzizana founded Sikelela after experiencing the shortage of medical equipment while working in rural areas in the Eastern Cape. Starting out with just two sales representatives, her company now has a staff complement of 25, has moved from rented to owned premises, and services public and private sector clients in southern, central and north Africa.
Significantly, Sikelela’s pharmaceutical arm has a manufacturing and a wholesale license. The medical and dental divisions play a major role in providing equipment to hospitals in various parts of South Africa.  Under Mzizana’s watchful eye, Sikelela lives its motto of “job creation, job satisfaction and people empowerment”.
“The role of women across the economy is growing in leaps and bounds, not only in the corporate sector, but also in the vital entrepreneurial space which is so critical for job creation in our country where unemployment is such as massive issue,” concludes Maphisa.