Looking Back at 2019
December 2019 // Johannesburg
It’s almost time to exhale, with 2019 nearly done and dusted.
It’s been a challenging, yet fruitful year for the WDBIH team.
There has been a lot of opportunity for learning and collaboration, and we continue to be totally committed to the upliftment of women in our country and on our continent.
My trip to Kigali in April this year to attend The 7th Africa CEO Forum was a personal highlight as it provided some real time to pause for reflection and to ask some hard questions about African leadership and what we are doing to tackle poverty head-on. At WDBIH we continue to focus on the inclusive growth of all women and recognise that until women are in the driving seat of the economy we are simply going around in circles. We continue to strive to make an impact on women – whether it’s in the boardroom, the marketplace or at grassroots level and we know that education and innovation are at the heart of any endeavours to shatter gender disparity and make the difference that is needed. This year we commissioned research on two critical topics, gender pay parity and women on boards and leadership in South Africa. We believe strongly that if these issues are tackled with a sense of urgency at both policy and governance levels we can shift the needle for the benefit of women in our economy and country. We will publish the research in the new year.
I am pleased to say that the intern programme we launched in 2017 has grown and matured. Of the 10 interns that joined our programme in 2017, 9 received permanent employment outside WDBIH. Hearing the success stories of our past interns makes me so proud. We were pleased to welcome our new set of interns earlier this year – mentorship and providing opportunities to our future leaders continues to be one of the cornerstones of the work of WDBIH. Seeing the interns grow and develop is a boost for us all. It shows us that each and every one of us has the power to change someone’s future trajectory just by giving them a helping hand and providing an opportunity.
We continue to support Primestars in their endeavours to educate and upskill young learners, while also showing our support for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, and the remarkable young women that pass through its doors.
We believe that every child deserves access to quality education as a necessary step in empowering a nation.
This year saw WDBIH make a significant investment in SPARK Schools, becoming their first South African institutional investor.
While there have been many positives, it’s also been a difficult year. Collectively, as a country, we have felt the pain of gender-based violence. It’s been a case of too much for too long, and my colleagues and I at WDBIH feel that the time has come for all of us to come together – from government and the private sector, those in rural areas and those who live in our cities, men and women – to do what we can to fix this rot that ravages our society.
One thing I have realised this year is that being and staying positive is hard work and can be a difficult choice to make. It’s easy when things are going well, but when there are challenges we need to make sure we put on our armour so that we can fight the good fight. We need each other more than ever during these times. What has given me the strength and energy to stay positive is never forgetting where we have come from as a people and a nation and knowing that we can overcome any challenge that comes our way as long as we work collectively. I have learnt that the more I appreciate my team, family, friends, partners and each and every achievement and failure – small or big, the easier it is for me to overcome my own daily challenges.
In that spirit, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff, supporters and partners – we can’t walk this journey alone, and you all make it so worthwhile. We are stronger, together.
CEO, WDB Investment Holdings.