On Saturday, 15 October 2016, the Board, management, alumni and friends of the South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP) came together for a celebration of leadership and service in South Africa. SAWIP annually recognises a South African who most embodies our values and awards them with the Award for Leadership and Service. Previous recipients include Advocate George Bizos SC, Dr John Kani, Advocate Thuli Madonsela and Dr Imtiaz Sooliman. This year Wendy Luhabe graciously accepted SAWIP’s award.
Wendy Luhabe is a South African businesswoman and social entrepreneur. She gained experience with Vanda Cosmetics and for the BMW Group. In 1991, she founded Bridging the Gap, her first exercise in social entrepreneurship and aimed at empowering black graduates with the skills necessary to forward their careers. She has continued her contribution towards the development of South Africa’s youth in a multitude of ways. In 1994, she pioneered the founding of Women Investment Portfolio Holdings, which listed on the JSE in 1999. She is one of the leading women in South Africa’s business community and has made a deep and positive impact on individuals and the country as a whole.
In addition to making the award, the event included an important discussion on the leadership skills needed in the 21st century, where there is significant uncertainty. The panel was led by the Executive Director, Chéri-Leigh Erasmus and the discussants were alumni Alli Appelbaum, Mario Meyer, Lwamba Chisaka and National Program Manager, Shannon Bernhardt. They proposed that important skills including empathy, creativity, resilience and self-awareness will be essential in navigating the volatile future.
The evening was a joyous occasion, which gave members of the SAWIP community the opportunity to engage with each other on important issues facing South Africa and to enjoy one another’s company.
See the transcript of Wendy Luhabe’s acceptance speech here.