Dr Wendy Luhabe is a pioneer in the area of Economic Empowerment of Women. Her revolutionary ideas enabled South African women to become investors by launching the first R120 million private equity fund that provides capital to women-owned businesses.
In 1999, Dr Luhabe was named one of the 50 Leading Women Entrepreneurs in the world. Over the past 20 years she has chaired and served on several diverse Boards, both local and internationally, including being the first Chair of South Africa’s International Marketing Council founded by President Thabo Mbeki. She is an economic activist, a champion for social entrepreneurship, and a mentor for younger generations.
Dr Luhabe, the recipient of numerous awards and honours, has been awarded three honorary doctorates for her work with women.
She is the former Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg and was awarded the Lieutenant of the Victorian Order (LVO) by the British Royal Family.
A thought leader, an author, and an accomplished business woman, she is passionate about leadership development in Africa and inter-generational dialogue. She constantly seeks to find new solutions to Africa’s problems.
She pioneered the founding of WIPHOLD (Women Investment Portfolio Holdings) which revolutionised the participation of women in the South African economy and launched the Venture Capital Fund for Women Owned Enterprises. She established the Wendy Luhabe Foundation to educate young disadvantaged black women, particularly from rural areas, and founded Bridging the Gap, which prepares young graduates for corporate employment.
At the invitation of Hillary Clinton, she joined the new International Council on Women’s Business Leadership (ICWBL) which consists of women world leaders from US, foreign, public and private sector organisations and institutions.
Her life has been dedicated to the empowerment of African women in providing much needed start-up capital to women-owned businesses, enabling a disadvantaged section of the population to move from poverty to entrepreneurship.
In conferring on Dr Wendy Luhabe its highest award, Doctor of Commerce (honoris causa), the University of KwaZulu-Natal recognises her many philanthropic initiatives that resonate with UKZN’s mission statement.