Wendy Luhabe, is an accomplished businesswoman, social entrepreneur and author.
She has pioneered many initiatives for the economic empowerment of women and their participation in South Africa’s economic landscape. Luhabe is deeply engaged in many sectors, including education, youth leadership development, and business, for which she is the Chairwoman and Director of a number of leading companies in diverse industries.
After working for 10 years for corporations internationally Luhabe decided to dedicate her life to empower African women in business.
She was born on 29 May 1957, Daveyton, Gauteng Province, South Africa, and grew up in the old Benoni location.
Luhabe graduated in Arts from the University of Fort Hare (1977) and in Commerce from the University of Lesotho (1981).
After 10 years of national and international corporate experience with BMW, she founded “Bridging the Gap” in 1991, a consulting firm working on both sides of the corporate equation: On the one hand to prepare young Black South Africans to enter the world of work, on the other hand to support South African companies on how to integrate them into their corporate business.
Mostly, Mrs Luhabe is known for her vision in founding the Women Investment Holdings (WIPHOLD) in 1993: initiating the participation of women in the economic landscape of South Africa. She launched the first fund to provide capital to women-owned businesses in South Africa with a R120 million private equite fund.
She was awarded as one of the 50 Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World and Global Leader of Tomorrow of the World Economics Forum; and inaugurated as a Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg in 2006.
Luhabe was appointed Honorary Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) in the 2014 New Year Honours for her services as a trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.
Wendy Luhabe’s defining moment:
“In my early 20’s my father gave me the best gift of my life, a book by Dr Wayne W. Dyer called “Your Erroneous Zones” which was about taking responsibility to change one’s circumstances. This book taught me, at an early age, that no one oppresses us or abuses us without our permission and that in life we either choose to be a victim, or to change our circumstances. By the time I was 25 I knew that I am responsible for my life and that any choices I make have consequences. So I decided to approach life by creating my own rules and making the kinds of choices that support my aspirations.“
Luhabe is married to the former premier of Gauteng Province, Mbhazima Shilowa, they have 2 sons and a grandson.
Furthermore, Luhabe is also the Chair of the Women Private Equity Fund and is on the Board of IMD Business School, and she was recently appointed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the newly-formed International Council on Women’s Business Leadership.
Luhabe is also an active mentor, accomplished author and powerful role model who is known for her writing and speaking engagements. She is a passionate ambassador for entrepreneurship as a platform to transform society.
Her work include Wendy Luhabe: Defining moments. University of Kwazulu Natal Press, 2002, ISBN 978-1-86914-020-5.
Photo Credit: World Economic Forum