Wendy Luhabe is a pioneer in the Economic Empowerment of Women with her revolutionary ideas which enabled South African Women to become Investors for the first time in the mid ‘90s, after South Africa became a democracy. She has Chaired and served on a number of diverse Boards in South Africa and overseas over the past 20 years, including becoming the founding Chair of South Africa’s International Marketing Council.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa awarded Luhabe an honorary doctorate in commerce in recognition of her unwavering and invaluable contribution to women empowerment in business.
Luhabe’s journey with the university came full circle on Thursday and marked 26 years since she first graduated with a commerce degree. It’s also the third honorary doctorate she’s received in her career.
“I received a degree in commerce in 1991, making me one of the first women to graduate with this qualification. My wish had been that there was someone who had gone through the experience to share what they had learnt with me. I hope to rectify this today,” she said during the ceremony at the university’s Westville campus.
“The common misconception about success is that it’s easy or that you must have the right connections. Each one of us must be willing to make the investment necessary if we are serious about succeeding.”
Luhabe was one of the founding members of Women Investment Portfolio Holdings (Wiphold), which makes investments on behalf of more than 200 000 beneficiaries who have a multibillion-rand investment portfolio.
Last year, she was appointed to the executive committee of rugby’s international governing body, World Rugby – the only woman to currently sit on the organisation’s executive committee.
She’s also regarded as one of the most powerful businesswomen in South Africa and has been named one of the 50 Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World.
Luhabe has more than 27 years of experience as a non-executive director on several boards across diverse industries and public sector companies – including Vodacom, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the International Marketing Council.
She encouraged graduates to forge their own paths and to never be held back by their circumstances.
“My invitation is for you to keep your mind open and when you see the sign ‘push’, to go through the door,” she said. “As you graduate and begin the next step in your life, pay attention to your life choices and the seeds you plant. This province and this country needs your contribution, creativity, leadership and integrity. If you don’t find the circumstances you need, then create them. That is what I did and this is what your qualification will equip you to do.”