Question: Tell us about SAWIL and its origins?
Answer: SAWIL was established in 2014 as a proudly South African Women In Leadership organisation serving women leaders in corporate South Africa. We expanded to the SADC Region in 2019 as Southern African Women In Leadership and are now present in the rest of Africa and the diaspora under the new name: Strategic African Women In Leadership.
Q: What inspired you to start such an organisation?
A: Having walked a few miles as a woman in leadership in a male-dominated profession in corporate South Africa, my lived experiences made it difficult to ignore some of the injustices, biases and unfairness to which corporations subject women.
After extensive research, I realised that policies alone would not address the gap or lack of women in leadership. A conscientious organisation that is in touch with the needs, wants and realities of especially African women and women from previously disadvantaged backgrounds was essential, to help them navigate these spaces with ease. Be it through leadership training and development, board training and placements, executive coaching, or a safe space to network and learn from those who have gone before them and ultimately embody our slogan: “lift as they rise.”
Q: Who is your target market?
A: The primary reason we exist is to serve Women in Leadership roles, Professionals such as Lawyers, Accountants and Pilots, and, of course, Entrepreneurs. However, we are inclusive and provide mentorship and self-development skills to younger women and girls.
Q: You are launching your Flagship Chapter on 24 June and 7 July at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; why the JSE?
A: Africa.com screened 581 (and their subdivisions) out of the 1 364 companies listed on the 24 African stock exchanges, and the results are astonishing. Only 35 women CEOs are at the helm of companies with a revenue of over $100-million or more, followed by 25 divisional CEOs, and finally regional CEOs, some of which do not have the official title of “CEO”.
The JSE, situated at the heart of the richest square mile in Africa and home to some of Africa’s leading businesses, leads the pack by a mile. Therefore, to have our Flagship Chapter (Sandton) launch at the JSE was a no-brainer. Suppose we are to achieve our SAWIL Vision 2030 goal of a 30% representation of Women CEO/C-suite executives overseeing listed companies across Africa by 2030. In that case, JSE-listed companies bear fertile ground for us to make indelible inroads.
Q: You have Bonang Mohale as the Keynote Address for your Business Breakfast launch event; any particular reason why you chose him for this significant milestone?
A: Professor Mohale is a formidable leader that this country and continent are fortunate to have (and desperately need) for us to move the equality and equity needle. He is reverently known for his active and unwavering support for Leadership Transformation, Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and his best-selling book: Lift As You Rise (which happens to be our slogan); he is the perfect fit.
Q: Any other key areas where you intend to launch SAWIL Chapters in South Africa?
A: Our next focus will be the other economically active metros such as Cape Town and eThekwini, followed by Mbombela, Mangaung and Gqerberha.
Q: What has the reception been like in the rest of Africa and the diaspora? Will you be launching there as well?
A: Sub-Saharan Africa received us with warm and open arms. The landscape is obviously a bit different, and we have a lot of work to do in the slightly underdeveloped and less progressive countries. Fortunately, our Country Heads are experienced executives and leaders with strong leadership skills and are doing great work thus far.
Q: Tell us a little about the SAWIL Trailblazers Awards; we understand that you will be announcing the 2022 Top 30 Finalists at the launch.
A: SAWIL’s resolve is to contribute towards achieving the Global Sustainable Development Goals by closing the gender gap and addressing and reducing inequalities through the #SAWILVision2030.
One of our most significant and crucial initiatives is the SAWIL Trailblazers Awards, which spotlight women at the forefront of closing the gender gap through their work, either in their businesses or organisations that they lead; women who intentionally lift other women as they rise. Through this initiative, SAWIL believes that with more women spotlighted and celebrated for their trailblazing careers, this will open more opportunities for more women to serve and bring the change we desire to see in corporate Africa.
Q: Finally, What can we expect from SAWIL after the launch of the Flagship Chapter?
A:Look out for more Leadership Development Programmes; in addition to our existing training/coaching partners, we have invested in additional bespoke Leadership Training and Executive Coaching programmes in the first half of 2022.
We also have an exclusive networking platform/application for our members called SAWIL Engage, where we connect, share and grow together.
About the Founder
Seipati Mokhuoa is a formidable and influential Thought Leader with the determination and endless commitment to drive change and create key opportunities and platforms to encourage fundamental transformation in Africa on issues of gender equality, parity, diversity and inclusion. She is a consummate professional with solid roots (over 15 years of working experience) in the Financial & Advisory Sector. Mokhuoa has held various leadership roles in a leading Pan-African investment, savings, insurance and banking group: Old Mutual Limited.
Passionate about developing Africa, she is the strategist and innovator behind HD Afrika, a digital platform set to connect the continent and ultimately provide solutions for the socioeconomic challenges exacerbated by Covid-19 and beyond.
Mokhuoa is also the Regional Director at for Africa Board Academy Africa, a subsidiary of Board Academy Europe. She is a rising, sought-after Global Keynote Speaker who has addressed audiences alongside Presidents, Ministers and high-profile Business Executives in Africa, Europe and Asia.
She is the former Senator for South Africa with the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF).
Mokhuoa is a philanthropist who is passionate about the African continent’s development, focusing on its women and youth. Among her various philanthropic activities is her commitment to contributing as an Angel Investor and Ecosystem builder to Africa’s growing Start-up ecosystem. She believes that Youth and Women Entrepreneurship represent a unique and untapped opportunity for the continent.