It all began when two businessmen, from contrasting backgrounds, sat and broke bread together, in the newly democratic South Africa. One of those men was President Cyril Ramaphosa, and the other, Richard Fletcher, founder of Topco Media. During their pivotal and fervent conversations, the concept of Top Empowerment (previously Impumelelo) was born. The notion being to research, reward, and acknowledge those businesses employing empowerment and making waves towards a more equal South Africa. 

In a foreword for the first Impumelelo Publication, Cyril Ramaposa stated that “ for the first time we are able to gain an overview of progress in one of the most important aspects of the new South Africa: the emergence of a new class of black company owners, entrepreneurs, and managers, taking their rightful place in the country’s economic life. Not only have they opened up new territory, but they have done so coming from a legacy of social, economic and educational deprivation, where opportunities to acquire skills and expertise were almost non-existent.”

Today, the idea has taken the form of the Top Empowerment Awards, taking place on July 15th, which seeks to benchmark and showcase the top black-owned and managed companies in South Africa. The awards are also set to recognise those businesses driving the empowerment agenda and boosting the nation’s growth and equity in the economy. A sterling opportunity to come together, celebrate one another’s successes, increase opportunities and inspire confidence in South Africa’s business ecosystem. 

From Adversity to Success 

Although our beloved country has faced plenty of adversity, we have emerged as a stronger and more robust nation, deserving of appreciation and commemoration. Our research shows that those companies that have received awards experience a 30% growth increase. A past winner of the Top Young Achiever Award at the Top Empowerment Awards in July 2020, Theo Baloyi, is a fine example of an individual rising and uplifting others in the process. He has been quoted stating that, “our sole aim is to build a proudly African sneaker brand, reignite hope and create sustainable jobs .” An incredible reminder that success is only real when shared. 

Top Empowered Entrepreneur of the year 2020, Colin Herold, has a story of hard work, dedication, and compassion. At age 14, Colin went to work for a refrigeration company, where he started as a tea-maker and cleaner. During this time Colin learned how to repair and maintain fridges. In 1999, Colin started A&C Maintenance and Construction, which has grown from 5 employees to the 80 they have today! 

Group Chief Executive at Altron, Mteto Nyati,  in a Q&A session with Topco Media CEO Ralf Fletcher at last year’s Top Empowerment Summit, spoke on the importance of growth with inclusion and having a vision that incorporates everybody, not just one group. He also emphasized the significance of employing empathy and truly listening to people, so that they can be heard, acknowledged, and edified.

Emmanuel Ngulube, Chief Operating Officer of E&T Minerals was quoted upon receiving the Certificate of Excellence in recognition of their commitment to transformation in the year 2020, saying, “It is an even greater honour to be placed in such distinguished ranks as those of the past honorees, all of whom have made important contributions to lives in our country and the continent. This is an exciting time for companies to exist.” It certainly is an outstanding time for companies to be in existence, and this is your opportunity to gain recognition for your empowerment achievements, by entering the renowned awards.

Categories Abound 

Various awards categories, including, fast-growth black-owned smme, education and skills development, enterprise and supplier development, socio-economic development, job creation, public sector leader, and top empowered business of the year are open for entry. Some of the finalists (or companies that have already entered) include, Discovery Limited, AfroCentric Investment Corporation Limited, GrowthPoint Properties Limited, Liquid Intelligent Solutions, AECI Limited, Afgri Agri Operations, Wärtsilä SA, Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions SA (Pty) Ltd, Bathu, SLG pty Ltd, Merchants SA pty Ltd, Modern Centric Holdings, Ebonoko Holdings, and Bonakude Consulting.

A Prestigious Judges Panel 

Some of the acclaimed judges include Parmi Natesan, CEO of Institute of Directors, Thulani Nzima, chairperson of the Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks, Mothunye Mothiba, CEO of Productivity SA, and Marelise Van Der Westhuizen, CEO of Norton Rose Fulbright. Such an esteemed group of top judges ensures a fair and rigorous awards process, placing those that receive recognition on a true course to victory. 

SALGA CEO, Xolile George, had the following to say about being a part of last year’s panel: “I am honoured by the opportunity to serve as a judge for the Top Empowerment Awards. I trust that through participation in the judging process, I will be able to encourage and inspire other organisations to strive for excellence in the various categories covered by the Top Empowerment Awards. The organisation I head, SALGA, has participated in these awards and I can but only testify to the impact it had by making us work even harder in the areas of transformation, empowerment, and inspiring service delivery.”

The Top Empowerment Awards are created by Africans, for Africa’s benefit. South Africa needs to step forward and give each other the recognition that is deserved. We invite you to submit your nomination for the 2021 Top Empowerment Awards, to celebrate today’s empowerment leaders and inspire tomorrow’s.

Click this link to enter the awards or contact The closing date for nominations is the 25 of June 2021.