Media statement by Alan Khan, Senior Director: Corporate Affairs at the Durban University of Technology
The Durban University of Technology will confer an honorary Doctor of Technology Degree in Management Sciences to Wendy Yvonne Nomathemba Luhabe in recognition of her pioneering endeavors among South African women entrepreneurs as well as her role as a true activist in creating social capital for development and progress in South Africa.
Luhabe will receive her honorary degree during DUT’s graduation ceremony on Thursday April 12 2012 at the DUT Midlands Campus where she is also expected to be a guest speaker. Ms Luhabe is the Chancellor at the University of Johannesburg. She has two honorary degrees from the University of Fort Hare and the University of Stellenbosch.
She has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Lesotho and a Wits Business School Management Advancement Programme qualification. She is regarded as one of South Africa’s
prominent, visionary and pioneering women. She is a business woman, social entrepreneur and author and has worked extensively in the financial services industry, as well as for public companies in the telecommunications industry, and for government agencies. She worked for
Vanda Cosmetics and for the BMW Group where she gained ten years of national and international corporate experience before venturing on her own.
Luhabe’s first enterprise was in Human Resources at Bridging the Gap. The consulting firm prepared young black South Africans to enter the world of work and supported South African companies on integrating these young trainees into their corporate businesses. Her Women’s Private Equity Fund is one of less than ten funds which invest in women owned enterprises in the world. She is most known for her vision in the founding of Women Investment Portfolio Holdings (WIPHOlD) in 1993 which revolutionized the participation of women in the economic landscape of South Africa. It enabled more than 18 000 women to become investors for the first time. Wiphold made history in 1999 when it became the first women owned business to be listed on the JSE.
In 2002 she was responsible for another first in South Africa through the launch of a R120 million private equity fund for women-owned enterprises. Last year, Luhabe continued with her economic empowerment and education initiatives by launching the Wendy Luhabe Scholarship at Sandtonview School, Bramley, Johannesburg. This will enable the top Business Science student at the school to study for a Bachelor of Commerce.
Luhabe’s work aims to contribute to the confidence of women in all aspects of their lives. While she is acknowledged for her exceptional work in addressing past and present inequities affecting black women, she recognised that resistance to change can be damaging in the workplace. She has used industrial theatre to help white middle managers to accept change in the workplace and to feel empowered in bringing this change.
“Ms Luhabe is a role model for all South Africans in the basic tenet she fosters; she does not focus on being a woman or being black. She focuses rather on adding value to society and is intent on ensuring that her acquired knowledge and skills are taken to places and people where needed. She is also outspoken on leadership, saying that leadership should be approached differently and be used as a source to create innovation, empowering people to achieve greatness in their respective organisations,” reads the letter motivating for Luhabe’s nomination for the honorary doctorate.
Ms Luhabe said she has been blessed beyond her wildest imagination to live in a country where it has been possible to contribute. She said she is a living testament of how important a good education is for us to be productive citizens. “It is a great honor to receive recognition for my humble contributions to our country. I wish to express my profound gratitude to DUT for joining Fort Hare and the University of Stellenbosch in their acknowledgement of my contributions to South Africa by bestowing upon me an honorary doctorate,” she said.