Entrepreneur Phuthi Mahanyele has achieved what every woman on the African continent would endeavour to achieve.
Being one of the most successful businesswoman on the continent with a cabinet full of internationally acclaimed awards in recognition, Phuthi could now be relaxed somewhere feeling the sun, but surprisingly found on the ground bemoaning challenges that every African woman faces on daily basis in the business environments.
The Soweto-born entrepreneur won the 2014 Forbes African Business Woman of the Year, 2013 Distinguished Achievement’ award by the Douglas Society, Leading African Woman in Business, 2012 Africa Investors Award, 2009 Most Influential woman in government and business, Wall Street Journal’s List of Women in the World to watch in 2008 and 2007 World Economic Forum Global Young Leader.
“I believe that women look at themselves and see their potential” she singled.
“Many times you see their talents and capabilities but unfortunately they don’t have support or resources to tackle projects” she added.
In Africa there has been a general talk at various summits with very little action on the ground to advance women empowerment, with the recently held AU Summit in Johannesburg setting out Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.
“In finding solutions to address the challenges that us women face in our advancement to leadership positions, I believe that it starts with women being afforded opportunities to play a meaningful role” said Phuthi.
“We have more women than men graduating from universities, yet they remain behind when it comes to opportunities particularly in the private sector,” she said.
Apart from being a businesswoman, she initiated World’s Dignity Day that has brought in more involvement by women across the globe.
“The ethics underlying the philosophy of dignity is that people must have a right to have equal opportunities in order to realise their potential. The impact of Dignity Day although having increased substantially is still very small. We’ll continue to grow our efforts across the world” said Phuthi.
Most aspiring entrepreneurs, she singles out, lack of resources as a drawback to breakthrough for growth. Vast brilliant minds havevh1 been lost either after university or before starting their businesses as the challenges takes its toll.
“I always say that you have to think about how to position yourself for growth and try to find ways to move ahead in your career. Sometimes you find people with no education move ahead of those educated because they have thought about what they want to achieve and positioned themselves, while you have been waiting for someone to notice you. “These things don’t just happen on their own, but you have to make it happen. You have to be praying, thinking and engaging in activities that will push you forward” she added.
On how important are the roles of upcoming businesswomen to shape the future of Africa, Phuthi is adamant that they have to be good fighters to fight on the business environment that is like a boxing ring.
“Having been in leadership roles for over 17 years, I know of women leaders. We understand survival, renewal and reinvention. We are not afraid to fight what we believe in or for an opportunity to achieve something of significance. For us, doing more with less is simply a matter of knowing how to strategically activate those around us.
“I always advise women wanting to climb up the corporate ladder to focus on the following:
-Have a long-term view
-Focus on partnerships and relationships that you form.
-And ultimately focus on what you want to achieve and the impact you want to make in society.”