This year’s Standard Bank Top Women Conference has brought together over 10000 thought leaders and delegates from a cross-section of fields from banking to mining, sport and more. Hosted virtually by Topco Media in partnership with Standard Bank, the first day was jam-packed with deeply insightful discussions and addresses with Leanne Manas as the MC. Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of the Department of Small Business Development kickstarted the day astutely summarising the crux of the current issue, “women in South Africa still face many structural and social obstacles, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, when attempting to advance their businesses.”
A thoroughly brave take on the current issues was the order of the day with leaders such as Thabang Charlotte Mampane, Commissioner of the National Lotteries Commission highlighting that, “women in SA account for 67% of job losses that came as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic (Feb-Apr 2020).” Ralf Fletcher, the CEO of Topco Media, the organisers of the conference, explains that the second edition of the virtual conference is an opportunity to reach even more women which is even more critical in light of the current economic situation. “We can’t shift the dial away from the critical topic of gender empowerment and lose the momentum that we’ve achieved as a country. Tackling honest conversations and bringing leaders together to map out the next steps is absolutely critical.”
In a forward-thinking departure from the typical conference line-up, this year included creative entrepreneurs like Aisha Baker, CEO and Founder of Baked Collection, she started her career in the digital arena and moved to creating her own e-commerce brand. She touched on the importance of authenticity in the digital age, “I’ve been able to very cleverly monetize my story, and it’s an authentic one – It’s my real story, my real life.” Her candour resonated with the 14 000 attendees and that common thread existed in other conversations including with Mariana Moura Santos, Founder and CEO Chicas Poderosas, Margaret Hirsch, co-Founder & Executive Director, Hirsch’s Home Stores South Africa, Sodfa Daaji, Founder & Executive Director, African Legal Think Tank on Women’s Rights Tunisia and Jenine Zachar, Head: Enterprise & Direct Banking, Standard Bank Group.
“We are blown away by the engagement on the first day of the conference and we can’t wait to see what will come from the brave conversions of day 2,” says Fletcher. You can keep up to date with every minute of the conference by following @SBTopWomen on Twitter. This is just one component of Top Women, so if you know any incredible women then nominate them for this year’s Standard Bank Top Women Awards taking place on 4 November 2021.
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