Wendy Luhabe to be honoured by British Royal Family - CNBC Africa

Wendy Luhabe to be honoured by British Royal Family

Special Report

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Wendy Luhabe's investiture will be on 11 July at Buckingham Palace, London. PHOTO: Neo Ntsoma

Luhabe, who has had a stellar career in the international and South African business landscape, will been appointed the Honorary Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order by the British Royal Family for her services at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Foundation.

“This work really speaks to me because it gives people another chance at life. There is virtue in giving back,” Luhabe told CNBCafrica.com in an exclusive interview.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Foundation, of which Luhabe is an international trustee, is a global organisation that aims to improve the livelihoods of young people as well as gives formal recognition for achievements.

Luhabe’s track record includes being director of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, chancellor of the University of Johannesburg and founder of Bridging the Gap, a human resources and recruitment firm.

Luhabe has been a member of the foundation for the past 10 years, having worked with Prince Edward, Earl of Essex. The foundation in particular works in countries such as South Africa, India and Brazil, where majority of the population is made up of young people, and poverty levels are significantly high.

Luhabe’s investment in the youth also goes as far as education, with the Wendy Luhabe Scholarship. She added that giving back should be a part of daily life whether an individual or entrepreneur.

“It should be a duty that everyone should assume, but it should not be imposed. We have to be moved to make some contribution. It’s going beyond just making enterprises,” Luhabe explained.

(READ MORE: Women's empowerment is everybody's business: Mlambo-Ngcuka

Along with her continuing contribution to entrepreneurship, Luhabe is in the process of setting up micro enterprises for women in the bakery industry in various communities in South Africa, and will pilot 300 bakeries in provinces including the Free State, Northern, Western and Eastern Cape.

“The women that we are identifying obviously don’t have their own resources to acquire an oven to bake the bread, so we’ve identified that if we can raise a loan fund, because they are earning enough money to pay off the loan, we will be able to enable much greater numbers of women to become microentrepreneurs,” said Luhabe.

(READ MORE: A fresh perspctive needed to advance women in business)

Luhabe’s investiture is on 11 July at Buckingham Palace, London, and Luhabe sees the award as more of a global recognition of women than a single honour.

“It is an honour for women globally. I’m merely a vehicle for other women. If I were to challenge women, it would be to go beyond our own conceived limitations, and the limitations that are imposed by society,” Luhabe added.

“[We should] believe more in the value that we have as human beings, and not really think of ourselves as women. The minute we think of ourselves as women we immediately take on the stereotype and the baggage that comes with the stereotype.”

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