Connie Nkosi is passionate about fighting for the rights of disenfranchised women

Lihle Z Mtshali

Lihle Z Mtshali

Connie Nkosi, executive chairperson of Lidonga Group Holdings, is a woman on a mission. She wants to personally champion the rights of disenfranchised women. The organisation that Nkosi heads is a women's investment company with an interest in information technology, telecoms, mining and a paper saw mill.

The 61-year-old Nkosi was born in George Gogh township in Johannesburg to parents who she describes as very basic people. Despite the obstacles they faced, her parents still managed to provide her and her siblings with a good education.

"We didn't have the fancy items that today's children have. The world was not our oyster and it was very difficult growing up under apartheid rule," says Nkosi.

Nkosi received her primary school education at Dlambulo Primary School and matriculated from Orlando High School in 1964 through the Joint Matriculation Board programme, the examination body of the time, which the students called the joint mabulala zonke.

Although her parents wanted her to become a nurse or a teacher, Nkosi broke the mould and, spurred on by her visionary maternal grandmother, she enrolled at the University of Zululand where she obtained her BA in Psychology.

Nkosi lets nothing stand in the way of her dreams. In 1980 she had to get approval from the government to enrol for the MBA programme at Wits Business School. She went on to become South Africa's first black woman to complete an MBA.

Nkosi has worked in advertising and banking, and currently sits on the board of directors at Pick 'n Pay. She was recently appointed as the deputy chairperson of the Marketing Association of South Africa.

Nkosi says that she marvels at women who have succeeded in their chosen fields against all odds, such as the USA's Hillary Clinton, Liberia's Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, France's Segolene Royal and closer to home,Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

"The new charters are making a good base for women to get into good partnerships and break the glass ceilings that have, in the past, hindered their success," she says.