The Top Women Awards, which are held by Topco Media, aims to recognise and reward women that have established successful businesses, have made a significant contribution to civil society and companies that are either owned by women or have a high percentage of women employees.
Notable guests that showed support for the ceremony and its finalists included Duduzile Masego, the executive director for community development at the City of Johannesburg, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of the Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women at United Nations Women. Mlambo-Ngcuka, in her keynote address, applauded the judges, nominees and finalists for their achievements and urged them to encourage women from a young age to strive to pursue bigger goals.
“These awards are as old as our democracy, they’ve shown us the way,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka. “We have a common agenda, and that is the total emancipation of women. When we transform our lives, we ought to support those at the bottom of the pyramid.”
Big winners of the night included KPMG Group, who won a recognition award in the Financial Services and Consulting company category, and Wassa Gasses, who won the Woman-Owned Business Award. Wassa Gasses also walked away with the Businesswoman of the Year Award, which was presented to Nokwanele Qonde and Thando Sibisi from the company, and is the top award of the entire ceremony.
Another big winner of the night was mega appliance store chain Hirsch’s, which won the Best Woman Empowered Community Programme award and whose CEO Margaret Hirsch won the Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Hirsch was awarded 2012 Entrprenuerial Businesswoman of the Year by South African president Jacob Zuma, and was also called South Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Business and Government in 2011.
Hirsch’s has 17 stores in South Africa and reportedly has an annual turnover of a billion rand.
The Non-governmental Organisation award went to Women in Engineering, South Africa (SaWomEng), the Civil Society award went to Ikwezi Farming Cooperative and Isilumko, a staffing and media company, won the Most Innovative Gender Empowered Company award.
In the public sector individual award category, the Young Achiever award went to Sandi Mbutuma from Pentad Quantity Surveyors and the Top Young Female Entrepreneur award went to Catherine Constantinides, South Africa’s former Miss Earth.