Wendy Luhabe

Throwback Monday take a look at some of our first Interviews!
Wendy Luhabe is a pioneer in the Economic Empowerment of Women. 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 founded by President Mbeki more than 10 years ago. She is an Economic Activist, a champion for Social Entrepreneurship, a Mentor for younger generations and a recipient of numerous Awards and honors. She is a recipient of three Honorary Doctorates for her work with Women, she was awarded the Lieutenant of the Victorian Order (LVO) by the British Royal Family in 2014. 

wendy-luhabe-WEFMy Definition Of Success | It means using as much of my potential as I possibly can, way beyond the 5 % that I believe we get to use. It means enabling others to do the same by sharing my experience with the generations behind me. It means aligning my divine purpose to my work. It means leaving behind a legacy that has enriched other lives and changed them.

My Definition Has Changed | I suspect it has, when I was in my 20’s I wanted to have a job. I can’t remember thinking beyond that. However, because I was among the first generation of black women to qualify with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, I felt a sense of responsibility to inspire other women to do more with their lives.  When we feel responsible for others, many things change and shift to what is more meaningful in life.

My Highlights | It took me a year after I graduated to find suitable employment because I was not prepared to settle for less. By the time I was in my mid 30’s I was a director of a listed company and I had my first business, a company called Bridging the Gap to equip black university graduates with knowledge, experience and soft skills to take responsibility for their lives and to manage their careers more effectively than our generation. This was followed by the founding of Wiphold in 1993 with three other women to pioneer an Investment Company owned by women. Wiphold successfully convinced 18,000 women to invest in its vision for women to assume Financial independence. In 2003 I founded one of 10 Private Equity Funds in the world, focusing on investing in women owned enterprises.  These are all highlights of my early life that make me most proud because with Wiphold and WPEF, the Private Equity Fund, many lives were changed, enriched and empowered.

Wendy-Luhabe 1The Difference Between good And Great | People who are good at what they do normally do not go an extra mile, they do not bring a new perspective nor are they aligned to their life purpose, they simply do what is expected not more. People who are great on the other hand are normally passionate, inspired and they come alive as they do their work. The world has always been changed by committed and passionate people.

My Key Talents | There are a few, but I would say courage has possibly been critical to my success. Like most things in life, we must practise them until they become second nature.

I believe that courage enabled me to take on responsibilities that were way beyond my age and possibly experience, as a result, this positioned me for leadership roles early in my life, in a variety of large institutions. Courage is very much related to one’s self esteem, sense of worth, self beliefs and overall attitude towards life in general. If all of these are healthy, we are likely to find enough courage to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone.
The steps that would be helpful :

  • Understand what talents we have (perhaps do a profile test)
  • Do a regular self introspection to discard what no longer serves us
  • Do an assessment of what we value, what talents we have been blessed with and how can we use them to make a meaningful contribution.

Actions And Habits That Have Lead To My Success | I am able to say No. I keep my word and honour my commitments. I value honesty and integrity. I am extremely disciplined, painfully so. I enjoy mentoring others (to whom much is given, much is expected). I read widely from varied thought leaders. I think issues through and I consider their likely consequences. I take risks, I try new things. I enjoy a portfolio of activities to keep me challenged. I ask questions. I realize that I do not know everything, therefore I am prepared to learn from others. I have an open mind. I am curious and adventurous. I am a pathfinder and a pioneer. I am confident and I have courage. I am not afraid to make mistakes or to fail. I believe I can change circumstances and I can make a difference. I believe I matter, I choose things that have meaning. I am purposeful.

Values And Principles I Live By | Integrity, honesty, trust, dependable, generosity, maturity, consistency, being thoughtful, excellence, relationships, collaboration, authenticity, wisdom, understanding, independence.

My Critical Skills | Communication, branding, writing, speaking, supporting social issues, thought leadership, taking a stand on matters, being a pioneer, being an example and an inspiration to others, empowerment of others and being accessible, knowing what I am good at, adding value, enabling the participation of others (for example in board meetings) teaching.

How I Use My Mind | I used to set goals and I stopped that because I wanted to make myself available to be used by God as His will determines. I did not want to limit myself and I wanted to be a free spirit. I am selective about what I do, I apply myself 100%.  I always define boundaries and I always look at ways of improving what I do.

Lessons I Have Learnt | That compromise is essential except for one’s values and principles. That it is critical to be principled. That we must invest in our growth and development, we must have independent thoughts.We must surround ourselves with positive people and always be in contact with the generation ahead and the generation behind. To seize the moment, my favourite saying is Carpe Diem. Finally, my mother taught me to live within my means and never depend on debt. Young people need to be taught Financial Management.

Performing At My Peak | I prepare myself for each assignment, I invite God’s guidance, I choose areas where I can add value.

Wendy Luhabe 1My Dreams And Ambitions | I would still like to contribute towards the economic empowerment of women, towards less fortunate women and to create a culture of sharing experiences between generations.

The Meaning Of Life | The meaning of life for me is about fulfilling my potential and enabling others to fulfill theirs.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | To be myself because that’s the only way I can be authentic and the best.


Useful Links |
Speakers Inc

Conference Speakers International

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3 thoughts on “Wendy Luhabe | Entrepreneur, Mentor, Empowerer

  1. I am very inspired by Wendy Luhabe as starting up business woman of thirty four (34) years of age. I am feeling so determined and positive that I will make it in business no matter how long and difficult it takes but I shall conquer. I am also planning in working with lot young women who are still inexperience as well experienced in the near future. I would love to see myself or in a team being among a women foundation founders to assist and empower needy. Let us unite and make this place a better place for us all, “Phambili nembokodo pambili” (forward with women courage/spirit forward).

  2. You just gave us goose bumps Nomfundo:)
    Good luck with your business venture! We hope we will be able to provide inspiration as well as motivation when it gets tough. Keep in touch and hopefully one day soon we will be interviewing you:)

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