The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) recognises the doyennes and doyens of business through the South African Premier Business Awards (SAPBA) in order to inspire the young entrepreneurs of this country.
Davies was speaking at the 4th annual South African Premier Business Awards that was hosted by the dti in partnership with Brand South Africa and Proudly South African in Sandton this week. He bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award on acclaimed businesswoman Ms Gloria Serobe. She is the Executive Director of Women’s Investment Portfolio Holdings Limited (WIPHOLD) and CEO of Wipcapital. WIPHOLD is an investment and operating company owned and managed entirely by black women. Ms Serobe has more than 30 years of experience in leading public and private domestic and multinational institutions.
“South Africans like Ms Serobe inspire the nation in general and the young entrepreneurs in particular. They have shown that when excellence is a way of life, success is assured. We have already recognised and honoured three other prominent business trailblazers through the Lifetime Achievement Award. These are Mr Richard Maponya, Dr Anna Mokgokong and Dr Sam Motsuenyane. They are all this country’s role models who have distinguished themselves in business against all the odds stacked against them, due to their tenacity, persistence, diligence, vision and focus. Today’s young entrepreneurs can take a leaf from their book and emulate them. Moreover, with the kind of support that the democratic government provides business with today, only the sky is the limit for our businesspeople,” said Minister Davies.
In her acceptance speech, Serobe said she was overwhelmed by the award before reminding everyone in attendance about the long and arduous journey that she travelled as a businesswoman. She epitomised the classic pioneers of black business that Minister Davies had described earlier, saying today’s young businesspeople need to draw inspiration from the pioneers that the department was honouring.
“When we started WIHOLD 23 years ago there was no black economic empowerment policy to speak of. We created the policy. We had to go the difficult route to ensure women were in business by creating a business home and opportunities for them. But we attribute our survival to the enabling environment created by government later,” said Serobe.
She said the award was a great honour as it placed her amongst the league of big giants who were recipients before her.
“But this award is a burden because you are expected to carry it with such honour and integrity as a role model to the young and old in this country,” she quipped.
Serobe urged business to continue working with the government in its long and onerous task of untying the apartheid knots from the country’s economy. She also lamented the fronting practice, describing hit as embarrassing and saying the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment policy needed to be defended and protected by all South Africans.
Distributed by APO on behalf of The Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.