luhabe a social entrepreneur

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Gauteng's first lady does not plays second fiddle to her husband because Mbhazima Shilowa's wife is a leader in her own right.

In business circles Wendy Luhabe, the founder of black women's investment company Wiphold is one of the pioneers of empowerment.

Luhabe is one of the speakers at the Secrets of Success in Leadership conference hosted by Regenesys Business School in Sandton next month. It will also feature renowned author and motivational speaker Deepak Chopra as keynote speaker.

She says: "There is a shortage of effective leadership in the country. We need to stop being in denial about challenges."

The 51-year-old Luhabe, a mother of two sons, stresses that she was never a part of the corporate world, but feels she can still offer wisdom to people climbing the company ladder.

She has not prepared a topic of discussion for the conference, and intends to respond to the situation as it arises. She says her experience tells her that success is built on flexibility.

"I'm an entrepreneur. It's not the same as the corporate world. I've created companies and I've brought many women into the economic landscape," she says.

Luhabe earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fort Hare University in 1977. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Lesotho in 1981.

She is chancellor of the University of Johannesburg and a director at BMW SA despite the fact that the company overlooked her for promotion in 1991.

She calls herself a social entrepreneur after founding and leading the international recruitment agency, Bridging The Gap, between 1992 and 2001. Over the years she has trained many people.

"I don't really favour women over men. I work with anyone who asks for my assistance. I believe that we all have experiences we can share to succeed," she says.

While Luhabe believes she has fulfilled her life's mission of bringing women into the economy, she feels strongly that South Africa is at another critical stage where the "hope" and "forgiveness", which was established in the founding of democracy, has been eroded by growing levels of uncertainty and frustration.

"South Africa has many good leaders. It's just that they are under-utilised. Our society has a very narrow definition of leadership. True leaders are not necessarily those who have strong intellectual qualities. Other qualities need to come into play."

She says: "If we only look at the physical and intellectual qualities of people, we could have many people who would fall through the cracks. Some people might have all qualities, but that's not realistic."

Regenesy's Secrets of Success in Leadership conference takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from April 18 to 19.