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Bold Woman Award Finalists

South Africa’s 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award Winners & Finalists

In a highly anticipated event held at The Forum in Johannesburg on 19 July, Claire Blanckenberg and Zama Ngcobo were lauded as the winners of the 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award and Bold Future Award, respectively. Launched in 1972 to commemorate the Maison’s 200th anniversary, the Bold Woman Award is imbued with the enterprising spirit of the Grande Dame of Champagne, Madame Clicquot, and celebrates trailblazing businesswomen who share her values of innovation, fearlessness, and determination.

For 51 years, the award has been a tribute to the entrepreneurial role models of today and tomorrow, honouring more than 450 businesswomen in 27 countries. As the first and longest-running international award of its kind, its impact is invaluable. Applauding their leadership, innovation and tenacity, the coveted Bold Woman Award provides women entrepreneurs like Claire and Zama a voice, a platform, and access to an inspiring global community.

The Bold Woman Award Ceremony

“We recognise that South Africa’s female entrepreneurs are a national asset. Leading their industries bravely and ethically, women like Claire and Zama dare to be bold, creating better business practices and contributing to flourishing communities,” said Jean-Marc Gallot, President of Veuve Clicquot. Attending the event for the first time in South Africa, Jean-Marc’s passion for empowering businesswomen through the Bold Programme is rooted in upholding the heritage and essence of the brand and the legacy of Madame Clicquot.

Of course, the award ceremony brought together leading businesswomen to network, connect and engage in meaningful conversations around entrepreneurship. Inspiration permeated the evening with entertainment delivered by female pioneers, including MC Jo-Ann Strauss, SA ballerina gone global Kitty Phetla, who performed an afro-fusion style dance piece accompanied by pianist Kate Watson, and finally, South Africa’s first female fighter jet pilot Major Mandisa Mfeka who shared a moving speech. Much like the distinguished guests in attendance, these trailblazers have succeeded against the odds and continue to inspire a nation of daring women.

Bold Woman Award Winner

This year’s Bold Woman Award winner, Reel Gardening founder Claire Blanckenberg, has innovated the home food cultivation sector. Comprising a simple colour-coded system of embedded seed tape, her patented Garden in a Box has revolutionised how family nutrition is approached while providing an estimated 48 100 households with food security. “When I embarked on this path, there were very few female entrepreneurs to mentor me. Today, as one of those women, I hope to inspire others at the start of their journey,” she says. As the Bold Woman Award winner, Claire will be hosted at Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France, for an immersion in the history and tradition of the Maison.

Bold Future Award Winner

Providing specialist advice in a male-dominated industry, Bold Future Award winner Zama Ngcobo founded a boutique black female-led commercial law firm called WMN Attorneys Inc. Prioritising the progression of women and the youth, her growing law practice promotes a grass-roots approach to the development of legal practitioners. “I originally set out to create a safe space for young, black, female lawyers to thrive and am immensely proud to represent all of those categories as the Bold Future Award winner,” she comments.

Bold Barometer Findings

Promisingly, the 2023 Bold Barometer by Veuve Clicquot revealed that despite global economic challenges, the state of female entrepreneurship is improving in South Africa, with 61% of women surveyed being entrepreneurs – a figure on the rise since 2019. That said, most surveyed believe that they should emulate men to succeed in business. This last finding underscores the vital role of the Bold Programme by Veuve Clicquot, which not only recognises these industry pioneers but also fortifies a sustainable future for businesswomen globally, through impactful initiatives that inspire mentorship and collaboration.

Bold Open Database

Launching officially in South Africa at the award ceremony, Veuve Clicquot’s Bold Open Database of female entrepreneurs is free of cultural, geographical and technological barriers and aims to stimulate social and economic development. With the second largest number of registrations by country on the platform, South African women markedly seek to connect with fellow women role models. Correspondingly, female business leaders are invited to register at and join an illustrious community of women who walk in the footsteps of Madame Clicquot.

Finalists for the Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award

The Bold Woman Award obviously recognises the trailblazing businesswomen of today, celebrating those with a proven track record of success who have demonstrated evolution and transformation in their field. The 3 finalists selected were:

WINNER: Claire Blanckenberg ­– Founder & CEO of Reel Gardening

Prestige Digital | South Africa's 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award Winners & Finalists

At the age of 16, Claire attempted to grow vegetables to earn her pocket money, and during this period of challenge and self-discovery, she had an epiphany – she planned to answer the need for simple and cost-effective sustainable vegetable cultivation.

While studying architecture, Claire designed housing that required a simple food security solution. Enter Garden in a Box a patented concept designed to feed a family of 4. By encasing seeds and essential nutrients within the colour-coded paper tape, positioned at the precise depth beneath the soil, the process of planting and nurturing food was simplified and made financially accessible to all.

I want to empower every woman who works for me to also be a bold woman.” By supporting previously unemployed mothers, Reel Gardening has a profound social impact. Not only does the product itself enable individuals to nourish themselves, but its creation catalyses transformative change.

Andiswa Xozwa – Founder & CEO of Okuhle Project Management

Prestige Digital | South Africa's 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award Winners & Finalists

Andiswa, the driving force behind Okuhle Project Management, has grown a powerful team, 70% of which are black women. Okuhle delivers crucial infrastructure services to marginalised local communities and fosters a holistic cycle of upliftment by actively engaging black woman-owned subcontractors and suppliers.

Operating within the realm of infrastructure development in the construction industry, Andiswa’s most significant accomplishment lies in her role as a catalyst for transformative change. In fact, her commitment to skills transfer within the surrounding communities has become the cornerstone of her company. By prioritising increased participation and the empowerment of women and youth, Andiswa has flipped the traditional narrative, paving the way for a brighter and more inclusive future in the industry.

“My goal is to show young women that even when coming from the dusty streets of Daveyton, it can be done. The role of the black woman is at the forefront of the economy, and we must be brave in assuming these positions.”

Tebogo Mosito – Founder & CEO of Ditsogo Group

Prestige Digital | South Africa's 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award Winners & Finalists

As a result of growing up in a rural village in Rustenburg near the platinum mines, Tebogo’s interest in the mining industry was nurtured from a young age. Entering an almost exclusively male-dominated sector did not deter Tebogo but rather ignited a tenacity to create viable and safe opportunities for women to add value in this thriving industry.

For over a decade, Tebogo has managed a steel engineering and mining services company, steering it toward success. of course, she takes great pride in the business, which boasts a 100% black, female-led foundation. Fostering a network of women united in support and mentorship, Ditsogo enables an environment of collective growth and empowerment.

As a woman, you need to prove yourself twice over to show that you are capable.” Tebogo’s indomitable spirit transcends barriers as she paves the way for a new era of inclusivity and gender equality within the mining industry.

Finalists for the Veuve Clicquot Bold Future Award

The Bold Future Award celebrates the female leaders of tomorrow, honouring those with a growing track record of success who have demonstrated transformation and evolution in their field. The 3 finalists selected were:

WINNER: Zama Ngcobo ­– Founder, WMN Attorneys Inc.

Prestige Digital | South Africa's 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award Winners & Finalists

With a desire to create a safe space for young black female lawyers to flourish, Zama founded WMN Attorneys Inc. (an acronym for women), a uniquely positioned, boutique commercial law firm.

What started as a courageous solo endeavour in Johannesburg grew to a team of 10 legal professionals with a second office in Durban in two and a half years. Providing specialist advice in a male-dominated industry – across the mining, energy, oil, and gas sectors ­­­– Zama has created a thriving firm that prioritises the progress of women at its core.

Promoting a grass-roots approach to the development of legal practitioners, Zama’s vision extends beyond the confines of her firm. By engaging with the youth to provide access to meaningful opportunities and education, she is empowering the next generation to reach their full potential. “I was determined not to just start a law firm but also make a lot of noise about it. We’re here, we’re young, we’re black, we’re female, and we’re really, really good.”

Bathabile Moreki – Founder of The Perfume Co. Africa

Prestige Digital | South Africa's 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award Winners & Finalists

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the sale of essential oils as remedies catalysed the inception of a locally manufactured fragrance business. Driven by a commitment to empower individuals through meaningful employment, Bathabile established a wholesale business specialising in oil-based perfumes. This venture provides distribution opportunities and allows aspiring entrepreneurs to embrace ownership through a franchise model.

In a display of entrepreneurial prowess, Bathabile sold over 20,000 bottles within 12 months of business, mentoring more than 2,000 individuals, predominantly women and youth from townships and rural regions. Transcending geographical boundaries, the business has also expanded into neighbouring countries, including Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Mozambique.

Yes, I thought, what if I fail? But I was like, what if I make it?” With a commitment to building thriving businesses that foster genuine community participation, The Perfume Co. Africa’s success is a testament to the far-reaching impact of empowerment and ownership.

Mahlatse Mamaila – Founder, Ino Biodiesel

Prestige Digital | South Africa's 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award Winners & Finalists

During the hard lockdown, Mahlatse realised that one-third of farmers in Gauteng struggled to source clean fuel to harvest and deliver their crops. Identifying an opportunity to use waste cooking oil to produce biodiesel, she pivoted into the renewable energy sector. “I believe that where there is a challenge, there is always a solution.

Via a sustainable supply chain that supports local communities, Mahlatse produces a substitute for petroleum diesel by processing waste cooking oil into biodiesel, a clean fuel. The use of biodiesel increases energy security, improves air quality, and, furthermore, protects the environment by reducing greenhouse gases.

From producing only 5,000 litres of fuel in the first month, Mahlatse is audaciously pursuing opportunities to grow the business and assist local communities despite challenges and learning curves. “When I get rejected, I no longer feel it because I know that it is all part of the journey.

In conclusion, we congratulate the winners and finalists. Your achievements are obviously testimony to your determination, courage and commitment to make a difference in the world.

Please drink responsibly.

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