4 July 2012
Three finalists in each of the five categories of the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award were announced today (Wednesday, 04 July 2012) in Johannesburg.
The achievements of the finalists are wide ranging and show determination and foresight to make an impact on the future of fellow South Africans. These exceptional and visionary women have been selected from hundreds of entries.
Members of the public are invited to vote for the women who they believe to be the most deserving of winning in the Award. The public vote will account for 30% of the final score although the judges’ decision will be final.
The finalists are:
SOCIO-ECONOMIC BUSINESS DEVELOPERS CATEGORY
Ms Judy Stuart, a grandmother and dairy farmer from Curry’s Post, is the founder and manager of the Future Farmer Project, which provides platforms for young people in agriculture and farming to become successful commercial farm managers or farmers in their own right. Dairy farming has traditionally not been an attractive industry for rural and impoverished communities but with this apprenticeship project Ms Stuart has made inroads into the communities mentoring young people for a future in the dairy farming industry. She founded the project 7 years ago for ambitious youngsters from impoverished families without the means to pursue tertiary education to learn farming skills and the outstanding work ethic that is part of the farming community worldwide. It has enabled young people with no opportunities to become valuable members of the community and some of them are now top farm managers with the potential to be successful commercial farmers in their own right.
Ms Nyeleti Mushwana is an astute businesswoman who owns and runs a multi-million hotel and conference facility in Tzaneen in Limpopo where tourism is pivotal in creating and sustaining jobs to alleviate poverty. She founded Karibu Leisure Resort and Conference Centre/NMN Grand Hotel, which has applied for a four star grading and is focused almost exclusively on the domestic tourism market nine years ago. It employs 134 people of which 78 are full-time employees. Karibu Leisure Resort rebranded as NMN Grand Hotel late last year, opened as a small hotel with 28 rooms and a conference facility for only a handful. It expanded rapidly and now accommodates 280 people in 140 rooms with conference facilities for 600 people. Ms Mushwana is the first black woman to own a hotel in Tzaneen and has achieved the key requirement of the National Tourism Sector Strategy for the advancement of women in tourism by skills, enterprise and leadership development.
Ms Virginia Shuku turned her back on being a domestic worker 16-years ago and used the knowledge she gained from her farm worker mother to begin her own R500 000 turnover enterprise, Siyavuselela Agricultural Co-operative in Cala. In this nursery which was built to carry 1000 trays they produce 60 000 vegetable seedlings per month for small-scale farmers in rural villages in Cala, Ngcobo and Lady Frere. They also supply to schools and community individuals for their food gardens. The idea for this successful business was born when Ms Shuku observed that women and men in the villages of Cala were not working, as there were no factories and other industries to create employment. The community depended on agriculture and they had to travel to Queenstown to buy seedlings. She organised a group of unemployed women, men and youths to plant all kinds of vegetables to try to produce seedlings for the community. The demand for seedlings was overwhelming and that is when Ms Shuku started to fundraise for proper structures and training on how to produce seedlings.
GOOD NEIGHBOURS AGAINST CRIME CATEGORY
Ms Sinikiwe Biyela is the 34-year old Director of LifeLine and Rape Crisis in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. This courageous young woman was orphaned at the age of 10 and had the courage and determination to put herself through university while also caring for four of her siblings. Her background steered her to work tirelessly with women and children in distress fighting for communities free of gender-based violence, teaching them how to move away from violence and care for their children. Ms Biyela experiences the high levels of domestic violence and rape in South Africa as shocking. Women and children are being abused every day and in rural areas there is no support in terms of counselling. These survivors are expected to get over the abuse with no support at all but Ms Biyela works hard to protect them from all forms of abuse. Victims need to be assisted to become survivors.
Ms Margi Biggs, the founding chairperson of StreetSmart SA, has achieved remarkable success in helping homeless children of Cape Town not only in aiding beneficiaries that work with them but also by educating the community not to give money to begging children as by doing so it keeps them on the streets. StreetSmart SA raises money via participating restaurants in Cape Town, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Helderberg asking diners if a voluntary R5 donation could be added to their bill. All the funds raised in this way then go to StreetSmart SA's beneficiaries for social re-integration projects. To date an amount of over R5 million has been raised. The beneficiaries work with the children to educate and rehabilitate them and reunite them with their families. Furthermore considerable effort goes into raising awareness and educating South Africans that they can assist in decreasing the negative impact on street children by not giving them money as it feeds their habits of crime, drug abuse, glue sniffing and other wrongdoings.
Ms Judy Govender, a housewife who was traumatised after walking into a burglary at her house, has for the past four years selflessly devoted her life not without sacrifice to positively impact thousands of South African prisoners in a life-changing way. Without any finance she started a non-profit correspondence school, Emmaus Bible School (SA) to educate and rehabilitate South African prisoners in a more meaningful way. The idea was born when Ms Govender was shocked by the reality of crime in SA after a burglary at her home in Randpark Ridge in Gauteng. This made her realise that if she wanted her nation to change, she should stop complaining and do something about it.
Ms Jane Keen is a leader in the campaign for quality education and has also shaped the social landscape of our country through on-the-ground social work in some of South Africa’s poorest communities. Ms Keen is currently the executive director of South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP), a nonprofit organisation running seven programmes which work with 2 400 young people at the early childhood, high school, post-matric and tertiary levels. SAEP was founded on the core belief that education is the key to change, and that every child deserves access to it. Ms Keen joined the organisation as a volunteer in 2003 and developed it from a project run by volunteers out of its founder’s kitchen and dining room, into a R5 million organisation that employs 20 staff members and more than 100 volunteers every year.
Ms Nomonde Ntsundwana, a 47-year old, single mother of two has turned her life-long passion for gardening into an extention of her primary school mathematics teaching career, making a massive impact on communities in the Eastern Cape with inspiring projects combining environmental awareness with alleviating poverty. She humbly started her work in 2005 when she transformed the dry schoolyard of the Canzibe Primary, a township school in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth into a sustainable food garden with the help of the Agricultural Resource Council in Pretoria. It has now rolled out to maintained gardens in 10 schools, 2 NGO’s and 2 churches. When she started the Orange-fleshed Sweet Potato Nursery in 2008, Port Elizabeth experienced a severe water crisis and this combined with the fact that the orange-fleshed sweet potato needs little water and does well in harsh weather conditions helped tremendously. Ms Ntsundwana learned about a holistic way of gardening that includes harvesting rainwater, recycling biodegradable material, using organic composting methods that are energy efficient.
Ms Marisa van der Merwe is an accomplished South African chess player and teacher who, with a vision to effect positive change in our society, has undertaken several initiatives to promote chess as a life-changing tool in the lives of people of all ages. She is the co-founder of the Moves For Life development programme in which 20 000 learners are at present engaged in schools across South Africa, some of which are in hard-to-reach locations. The programme has shown the power of chess as a tool to enrich the lives of pupils, teachers and, through them, whole communities. Ms Van der Merwe from Monument Park in Pretoria, Gauteng started her first chess school in the garage of her home, where she provided chess group tuition for 5-13-year-olds. She saw how it promoted critical skills that complimented Maths and Science and life skills such as perseverance, logic, focus, planning and problem-solving, creativity, discipline, sportmanship and leadership.
YOUTH MOVERS CATEGORY
Ms Shéri Brynard, a 30 year-old South African woman from Bloemfontein with Down's Syndrome, has set new boundaries for people like her by qualifying as an assistant-teacher in a public school and becoming a motivational speaker nationally and internationally. She was the first and still is the only person in South Africa with Down's Syndrome who has received a tertiary qualification when she graduated from the National Technical College in Bloemfontein. This qualification followed after she started to attend mainstream school, the first person to do so 23 years ago. Ms Brynard looked different from the other learners and had to endure mockery and exclusion but this did not discourage her from her goals. Today she strives to give people with Down's syndrome and/or other intellectual disabilities a voice. Her achievements have changed perceptions about people with intellectual disabilities and she has become a beacon of hope for them and their parents. Because of her progress schools are now more willing to give learners with Down's syndrome a chance in mainstream classes.
Ms Liesel James has dedicated the past four years of her life to empowering and uplifting the children of the marginalized Ocean View community near Kommetjie in Cape Town where high levels of unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, physical and sexual abuse, gangsterism and malnutrition is the order of the day. She has worked with and motivated community leaders and school staff to reach out to the children of this challenged community. Her mission is to distract these young and impressionable children from the social ills that surround them by giving them dignity and a reason to stay off the streets with hope for a decent future. Ms James believes that vulnerable and exposed communities don’t get sufficient support from Government and local authorities. She therefore makes an effort to rally those in communities who have the means, skills and will to pool together to make a difference in the lives of these people.
Ms Kashveera Chanderjith, the first profoundly deaf chartered accountant in South Africa, has not withstanding her disability, and against all odds achieved academically and is now reaching out into communities to inspire, motivate and encourage transformation of individuals and communities. The parents of this 25-year old woman from KwaZulu-Natal was told shortly after her birth that she would never be able to learn to speak but today in her own voice she advocates for the rights of deaf people as well as spreading deaf awareness and is involved in a number of upliftment projects. The projects include the building of a school that provides free education to disadvantaged learners, a multi-cultural centre, which has as its vision in poverty alleviation, medical camps, as well as feeding schemes.
HEALTH CARE-GIVERS CATEGORY
Ms Cwengi Myeni is a 69 year-old woman who grew up in hardship and inequality but changed her life and those of others with hard work developing the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust from a small, limited healthcare service to a thriving department that is providing services to thousands of impoverished people infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal. She has a particular passion for women's empowerment, and through her work as Nursing Services Manager at Hillcrest AIDS Centre, she started a Grannie Support Group project that now has 1500 grandmothers from 5 communities being empowered and taught skills to be agents of change in their families and communities. Ms Myeni founded the Grannie Support Group project in 2006 in response to the dire need she witnessed in grandmothers who lost their children to AIDS and caring for one or more grandchildren, many of whom are living with HIV.
Ms Barbara Rass is a community activist fighting for the rights of individuals to stand up against abuse and she is the first person in South Africa who has pioneered a trauma centre for victims at a police station. As the founder member of the Atlantis Women’s Movement for the Abuse and the House of Healing Shelter in the Western Cape she cares for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Ms Rass is a survivor of an abusive marriage and had to deal with the tragic loss of her sister who went missing 20 years ago, not knowing if her sister was raped, murdered, or if she was trafficked.
Ms Tina Botha has by turning tragedy into triumph built the only organisation in Africa that educates and recruits potential bone marrow stem cell donors onto the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR), which is a state-asset saving the lives of many hundreds of people suffering from Leukaemia or other life threatening blood disorders. It all started 12 years ago when Ms Botha’s eldest son Chris Corlett lost his battle against Leukaemia when he was only 17 years old. Back then Leukaemia was a death sentence with only 800 donors on the South African Bone Marrow Registry and the odds of finding a matching donor was 1:100 000. Ms Botha however took up the challenge to change this and she founded the The Sunflower Fund in Cape Town. First she rallied the support of her friends to contact everyone they knew to be tested and become donors. She soon realised for the venture to be sustainable it would require extensive fundraising to pay for donor tests and the support of other organisations.
Through this Award the Shoprite Group wants to focus the attention of South Africans on finding solutions for those critical areas affecting the future of the country.
The winners will be awarded with individual prize money while the group will also give R100 000 towards the work these winners to impact positively on the future of the country.
The Award culminates in a spectacular gala evening in July 2012 at Emperors Palace in Gauteng to announce the winners. This dazzling event will be broadcast on Wednesday, 8 August 2012 on Mzansi Magic, DSTV. The programme will be re-broadcast the following day on Women’s Day, 09 August 2012.
Three finalists have been announced in each of the five categories of the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award.
The names of the judges who will select this year's Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year, have been announced.
As the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award enters its judging phase, the winners of 2011 tell of how they are utilizing the prize money received from the Shoprite Group of Companies, to enhance their work and build a better future for the people of South Africa.
Women of the Year Office
Tel: +27 21 980 4285 / 1570
Fax: +27 21 983 5222