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Philippa Larkin | 3 August 2023

Minister for Small Business Development Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams yesterday paid tribute to Pheliswa Mthethwa for a sterling tenure as the CEO of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF).

This as Mthethwa will be vacating the helm of the development financier when her contract ends in December 2023 after having driven the growth and institutional maturity of the entity whose legislated mandate is to grow black economic participation across South Africa.

Mthethwa takes the final bow from the development financing stage, leaving behind a healthy organisation, which has approved more than R13.75 billion in investments for black entrepreneurs and R12.6bn in company investment to support emerging black industrialists, created over 124 276 jobs and put together 8679 public engagements on how to save and invest mainly in poor black townships, rural areas and even in cities.

Mthethwa said, “As I serve out the final phase of my stewardship as CEO of the NEF, we look back with a degree of contentment over the many milestones we have spearheaded across different sectors of the economy, and with great hope for the period ahead.

“I am humbled to be handing over an organisation that has secured clean external audit opinions for 20 consecutive years, attesting to the NEF’s integrity and commitment to good governance. It has been a privilege to play a part in providing investor education, business planning support, entrepreneurial training, incubation support, mentorship and funding to black youth, women, SMEs and black industrialists in villages, townships and peri-urban localities.”

Mthethwa has not revealed her future plans, preferring to “dedicate my last remaining months to help the organisation find a leader of the future so that the NEF may continue to light the path in the quest for inclusive growth and economic justice”.

Mthethwa has collected a long list of accolades, chief amongst them being named 2019 CEO of the Decade by Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (ABSIP), 2017 Woman of the Year, also by ABSIP, and 2011 Corporate Businesswoman of the Year (Africa Investor).

Ndidi Mpye, the NEF trustee and chairperson of the Board Audit Committee, said, “Mthethwa has been instrumental in driving the institutional maturity of the NEF. It is her diverse knowledge of banking, capital markets and international investment that helped grow the NEF into a high-performing organisation, one whose integrity is exemplified by 20 years of uninterrupted clean external audits. Today the NEF is an authority on the development of black industrialists, rural and township development, women empowerment, enterprise and supplier development, among others, which are some of the areas that the CEO has been passionate about.”

Lucretia Khumalo, the divisional executive for Client Support and Growth at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), NEF trustee and chairperson of the Board Risk and Portfolio Management Committee, said: “Part of Mthethwa’s legacy is her commitment towards the advancement of black women professionals and entrepreneurs, whether in her role as a non-executive director at the IDC, or at the NEF. Her own accomplishments have served as an example and as an inspiration in our country’s quest for redress and growth with women at the forefront.”

Buhle Hanise, the president of the African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA) said: “For many years the NEF has been a close partner of AWCA, actively supporting our skills development programme towards the education and training of African women CAs, especially from rural areas.

“Mthethwa’s leadership, personal involvement and commitment to this strategic objective has been phenomenal. This is one of the many reasons why AWCA has awarded and recognised Ms Mthethwa as a Woman of Substance and as luminary in advancing entrepreneurship, transformation, skills development and the economic empowerment of black women,” Hanise said.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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