Education and excellence keys to success for women in business

Makole Mupita
It has been 60 years since the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings. Since then a tremendous amount of positive change has occurred in South Africa - both politically and more specifically in the sphere of gender politics. As a country, we have been lauded for our progressive constitution, but women are still under-represented in leadership positions. A survey released by Grant Thornton in 2016 showed that leadership positions held by women decreased from 27% in 2015 to 26% in 2016.

This is according to Makole Mupita, co-founder and Executive Director of Mahlako a Phahla Investments -  a women-led company focused within the energy and infrastructure sectors. Speaking at a recent Women’s Month event held in De Aar in the Northern Cape by Solar Capital - who recently launched the largest solar farm in the Southern Hemisphere, Mupita shared her views on how to encourage the increase of women in business and women entrepreneurs.

In her speech, Mupita reinforced her belief that an attitude of excellence and a focus on education is needed for women to achieve success in business. “Excellence is an attitude we can all choose to have. If you have an attitude of achieving, if you are excellent, no one can judge you on your gender or the colour of your skin. Your work will speak for itself. If you instil this attitude in your children and everyone around you that makes such a big difference.”

Also of vital importance is education. Mupita admits that there are limiting social and financial factors to education in South Africa, but encourages all school goers to study hard and seek opportunities for further studies and professional development.

“I am living proof that a solid education gets you places,” she pointed out. “I am originally from a small town in Polokwane and never dreamed I would be a part owner of a solar farm, but look at where I am now. Don’t give up trying to further your studies. Nothing stops someone from getting an education at any age. You can educate and empower yourself. It can happen!”  

Although there are many parenting articles written about how to raise girls to be strong women, with titles such as How to Talk to Little Girls, not as much is written about raising boys to respect the opposite sex. Mupita expounded her theory that women also have the responsibility of raising their sons to respect women. “This is how men will grow to see the potential in women employees and look up to their female leaders.”

In relation to National Women’s Day on Tuesday Mupita said, “Let’s make sure that Women’s Day is recognised by everyone, especially the young, as not just a public holiday in South Africa, but a day that remembers the strength of those 20 000 women who marched 60 years ago. I hope to see people becoming motivated by the strength these women had to help to ensure women are respected and treated as equals to men in every way.”

Musipa is an investor and board member of both of the project companies involved in the development, management, and operations and maintenance of the 175MW Solar Capital facility located in De Aar. Solar Capital De Aar assists in empowering the women of De Aar by offering an entrepreneurial development programme to the local community, of which a large percentage of participants are women. The company also funds the Healthy Mother Healthy Baby Programme in De Aar, which aims to raise awareness and decrease the rate of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Solar Capital also assisted in recently funding a women’s shelter in the area.