Promoting gender parity across the executive boards of JSE-listed companies is a key objective of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants

Research commissioned by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) has found a marked increase in the number of female representation across the boards of companies listed on the JSE. Last year, directorships held by women accounted for 17% of all board-level appointments across all JSE-listed companies – compared to 15.9%in 2015.

‘SAICA has been driving both racial and gender diversity in its membership base for nearly two decades,’ says Lindie Engelbrecht, executive director: members and global alliance at SAICA. She adds that with 17.4% of CAs(SA) on JSE-listed boards being female, the chartered accountant designation has been instrumental in this increase.

SA’s gender ratio is changing faster among bigger companies, where female board membership in the JSE Top 40 stands at 17.8%, up from 17.3% in the year prior. This progression is prominent among CA(SA) directors under the age of 50, of which 32% are female (2015: 27.5%).

‘Gender transformation – at least among the younger CAs(SA) – is complete, but there is work still to be done on the racial make-up of new female graduates,’ says Engelbrecht. ‘There is a shared responsibility for listed companies’ transformation committees, and women in leadership themselves, to have their voices heard on strategic issues.’

Among the female leaders who are breaking ground and achieving great success are the following CAs(SA).


Babalwa Ngonyama, CEO of Sinayo Securities, has been quietly yet effectively making a name for herself in the financial-brokerage industry. Ngonyama recently sold 49% of her equities-brokerage business to investment management company African Rainbow Capital (ARC), chaired by Patrice Motsepe.

This massive financial injection will dramatically boost Sinayo Securities’ capital base and allow it to carry out much bigger trading for its clients.

Ngonyama has an impressive career history and, with an annual turnover of R10 million, her firm enjoys a sterling reputation. This deal, however, has been a huge game changer.

Her career path has come on the back of persistent hard work and an ability to overcome challenges. ‘No one is born a CEO or CFO – you have to learn on the way,’ says Ngonyama.

‘I was the chairperson of the audit for a committee and had the support of Bobby Godsell. He gave me an amazing introduction and because he was so respected, so was I – because he trusted me. When things like that happened, I took advantage of them and owned that respect.’


Veronique-Chantelle Mew is the ‘head honcho’ of the Numbers People, a Gauteng-based chartered accounting consultancy that provides SMEs with a comprehensive suite of financial services.

During the course of her career, Mew has garnered invaluable experience, from completing her articles while at PwC to being appointed executive director of the SA subsidiary of international group Sun Ace at the age of 33. Along the way, she grew increasingly cognisant of the need for business owners and shareholders to have strong, supportive, dedicated and experienced partners to help grow their companies and make key decisions. ‘I realised that as CAs, our studies and work experience during articles make us the most suitable choice when selecting these types of business partners,’ she says.

After leading Sun Ace South Africa to considerable success, Mew decided it was time to pursue her own passion for growing businesses. That, and the increasing number of SMEs in SA, prompted her to establish the Numbers People. It was a progression that came naturally.

‘Being a CA made starting and running my business quite simple,’ she says. ‘Whereas many entrepreneurs out there who have great ideas but are turned off by the complexities of running a business. That is where my idea to start the Numbers People was born.’


Zizipho Nyanga is CEO of Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund, which was established in 2007 during Old Mutual’s demutualisation process in a bid to ensure unclaimed shares went towards funding black-owned small businesses.

Nyanga credits her past experience for helping her prepare for the role as CEO. The former entrepreneur worked at the IDC as a health services financier before joining Old Mutual as head of the fund’s post-investment monitoring and business support division.

‘It wasn’t easy switching from post-investment to CEO,’ she says. ‘But my role in post-investment prepared me for this role because it gave me exposure to all of the different sectors we fund, and to all the clients.’

Nyanga hopes to use her time as CEO to make a tangible difference, and she is also eager to tackle issues faced by female entrepreneurs – particularly access to finance and markets.

‘If they do get lucky and get finance they don’t have the support to make sure they’re nurtured in their startup phase [so] that they have a better chance of succeeding,’ she says. ‘The key ingredient is making sure you walk the journey with the entrepreneur and plug in wherever you are required, in order to make them successful.’

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