August 08, 2017

Celebrating the Phenomenal Spirit of South African Women in Business

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We’ve come a long way from the archaic perception that women belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It goes without saying that women bring immense value, specialised skills and their intrinsic nature to all aspects of life, including business. For many, this is a hard-won right and it something that is still evolving and changing over the years. Women’s rights are very closely connected with Human rights and this is something that we would do well not to forget. South African women in business, in particular, are making strides in every avenue and sphere possible.

If we look carefully, the current day business environment is crying out for the sensibilities that are inherent in women. There was a phase where if you were a woman in business, you were expected to jostle for space in a so-called ‘man’s world. This meant becoming cut-throat and a tough, no-nonsense exterior. This kind of thinking is fast becoming obsolete. Now more than ever powerful and influential women in business are tapping into their nurturing capabilities, emotional intelligence and healing energies as they approach the business world.

Here’s a quick look at the collective spirit of some of South Africa’s phenomenal women in the business world and the ways in which they have touched our lives. 

Joanne Strauss- South African Model, Public Speaker and Businesswoman 

Joanne Strauss - South African Model and Public Speaker

Claim to Fame:

Joanne Strauss is a powerhouse of a woman who has made strides in the media space. She first truly came into the public eye as Miss South Africa in 2001. She has since grown to become one of South Africa’s prominent media and television personalities. South Africans have come to know and love her through her magnetic presence on Top Billing, Pasella and for having been on the covers of some of South Africa’s top magazines. Joanne’s career truly displays diversity in that she has acted, produced, MC’ed and gone on to work with organisations such as UNICEF and Stop Hunger Now.

Why she is so amazing:

Joanne harnesses the power of resilience and effortless grace by juggling her professional life with her personal life and finding the value in each.  She is a force for change and progress in every aspect of her life. 

Rapelang Rabana- Entrepreneur, International Speaker and Thought Leader 

Entrepreneur- Rapelang Rabana

Claim to Fame:

Rapelang’s life story is a true testament to the world’s move toward technological and digital enhancement. She began her journey by founding Yeigo Communications, which was one of South Africa’s first free VoIP mobile services providers. She eventually went on to form Rekindle Learning which aims to introduce the concept of mobile learning and innovation to people.

Further than that she has been listed on Oprah Magazine’s O Power List and Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list for best entrepreneurs of Africa and featured on the cover of Forbes Africa. She is both a computer scientist and an entrepreneur and a true thought leader in learning technology, entrepreneurship and self-discovery. When she is not conquering in the technological space, she is a humanitarian whose main cause is to reduce illiteracy around the world.

Why she is so amazing: 

Rapelang is making strides in an area that is new, innovative and exciting and opening the doorway for more people to innovate in that space. 

Basetsana Kumalo – Social Entrepreneur, Business Woman and Philanthropist 

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Claim to Fame:

Bassie, as she is as most lovingly known by many South Africans, is a mover and shaker who has made a huge impact on society. She first emerged into the public eye as Miss South Africa in 1990 at the tender age of 16. Through her career following that, she had many business interests to her name. She truly gives meaning to the phrase multi-dimensional. She is known primarily for her entrepreneurial endeavours in the media, mining, technology and property fields and also for being a great philanthropist. Together with her husband Romeo Khumalo she is the owner of the Romeo and Basetsana Kumalo Family Foundation. Within this space they work with children who have been orphaned by AIDS or related diseases.

Bassie is also known for being a media owner. She owns Tswelopele Productions which is a TV production company famous for producing Top Billing, Pasella and Ses’Khona.

Why she is amazing:

Bassie has emerged from humble beginnings and made strides in her own life. From making and selling sandwiches to assist her family financially to managing multiple business interests and a family, she truly is made of star material.

Khanyie Dhlomo- South African TV Host and CEO of Ndalo Media and Ndalo Luxury Ventures 

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Claim to Fame:

It was a very unique and interesting moment that catapulted Khanyie Dlomo to the spotlight. At the tender age of 20, she became the very first black newscaster in South Africa for SABC1. People all around the country tuned in with avid interest to see history being made. Although she enjoyed her journey on TV and all of the fanfare that she experienced, she really wanted to get into the print media space. She eventually got her break as a fashion and beauty assistant at True Love magazine. While this was a foot through the door, it was also not exactly what she anticipated, but she stayed the course and saw it through. She finally had her break to become the editor of the magazine at the age of 22 and that went phenomenally. She ended up doubling the readership of the publication before heading off to study at Harvard University and qualifying with her MBA. Quite serendipitously, while she was studying abroad she met with the chairman of Conde Nast International and brought back ideas and insight which helped her to form her next two publications Destiny Magazine and Destiny Man. Her biggest achievement to date has been forming Ndalo Media  (her own media company) which has recently had the honourable coup of acquiring Elle and Elle Decoration media brands.

Why she is amazing:

Khanyi will always be immortalised in our minds as one of the most iconic contributors to the South African media space. She entered the industry at a pivotal moment and is deepening her effect and presence in media at an international level.

Devi Sankaree Govender- Award-winning Investigative Television Journalist 

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Claim to Fame: 

Devi, as people know her began her career in the media and journalism field at the age of 21. She first entered the industry as a freelancer on SABC radio. Her potential was recognised and she moved onto presenting shows, news reading and eventually became a talk show host on Lotus FM for a show called ‘Viewpoint’. She then left the field for a while to pursue a career in education but was offered the option to return as a current affairs anchor.

Devi has always had a nose for news and investigative journalism. Although she has sometimes courted controversy, she has also had some outstanding interviews with prominent people such as the late President Nelson Mandela, Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones and others.

Beyond her radio career, she has also appeared on TV on the Eastern Mosaic show (SABC1), been a columnist for the Sunday Times and co-presented on the Carte Blanche show on MNET.

Why she is amazing:

Devi is one of the few ladies out there who is able to walk the talk when it comes to the media industry. Her tenacious spirit and ability to get to the bottom of a story gives her a unique and refreshingly authentic edge.

Feel inspired by this amazing Maya Angelou poem!

Phenomenal Woman


Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. 

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   

But when I start to tell them, 

They think I’m telling lies. 

I say, 

It’s in the reach of my arms, 

The span of my hips,   

The stride of my step,   

The curl of my lips.   

I’m a woman 


Phenomenal woman,   

That’s me. 

I walk into a room 

Just as cool as you please,   

And to a man, 

The fellows stand or 

Fall down on their knees.   

Then they swarm around me, 

A hive of honey bees.   

I say, 

It’s the fire in my eyes,   

And the flash of my teeth,   

The swing in my waist,   

And the joy in my feet.   

I’m a woman 


Phenomenal woman, 

That’s me. 


Men themselves have wondered   

What they see in me. 

They try so much 

But they can’t touch 

My inner mystery. 

When I try to show them,   

They say they still can’t see.   

I say, 

It’s in the arch of my back,   

The sun of my smile, 

The ride of my breasts, 

The grace of my style. 

I’m a woman 


Phenomenal woman, 

That’s me. 


Now you understand 

Just why my head’s not bowed.   

I don’t shout or jump about 

Or have to talk real loud.   

When you see me passing, 

It ought to make you proud. 

I say, 

It’s in the click of my heels,   

The bend of my hair,   

the palm of my hand,   

The need for my care.   

’Cause I’m a woman 


Phenomenal woman, 

That’s me.


Celebrate the phenomenal women of this world and in your life!

About the Author
Laeeka Khan- Media professional, senior writer and blogger at Educor Holdings.

I blog about matters that relate to education and personal development. I am an out-of-the-box thinker, fascinated with perceptions of the mind’s eye, the power of imagination and creative learning. I am passionate about the human experience, and an avid believer in dialogue, breaking stereotypes, sharing information and the power of the arts. I also appreciate fine coffee and dark chocolate. Join me on this journey of knowledge and exploration.

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