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Alice Phatudi – pioneer in women empowerment

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When Alice Phatudi was recently named the winner of the Special Award for Achievements by the Business Women’s Association of South Africa’s (BWASA) Limpopo, it came as no surprise.
Phatudi’s path to success had humble beginnings. From her mother, who sold clothing for a living, she developed an interest in business since the tender age of ten. After completing school, she completed an advanced Business Management Diploma at Eden College in Johannesburg and worked in the pharmaceutical industry. She then moved to Polokwane and met her husband, George, a practicing advocate and businessperson in the city.
This astute businesswoman started her career in business in Polokwane in 1991 with a salon named Hair Exclusive where she employed and trained eight assistants, each of whom later became owners of their own successful businesses.
Hair Exclusive went from strength to strength and the business was able to sponsor the studies of four students at university, including one who is now a medical doctor. The salon partnered with then Technikon SA in a programme that enables detainees of the Department of Correctional Serves to gain employment after release from prison. Phatudi also ensured that they are placed with selected employers.
During 2001 the Department of Minerals and Energy announced a programme to empower women to be accommodated as shareholders in mining concessions and Phatudi saw the opportunity to assist women to take up the challenge and apply for prospecting rights as well. In 2007 she was elected National Chairperson of the SA Women in Mining Association (Sawima) and acted in that capacity for three years. Apart from obtaining prospection rights in Limpopo and the Northern Cape for a number of women, Phatudi also secured a shareholding in Sasol for SA Women Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd, the investment arm of Sawima.
In 2001 Phatudi established her own office and school furniture factory in Seshego’s industrial area and still operates from there. She has also entered a joint venture with another company that manufactures kitchen units and cabinets.
During the 2000 municipal elections, Phatudi took up the challenge as African National Congress candidate in Ward 20, but lost the seat against the Democratic Alliance.
Phatudi personally recruited and empowered 90 women in Limpopo to form a company called Limpopo African Women Alliance (Pty) Ltd of which she is the Chief Executive Officer. The company formed part of the BEE transaction of Protea Hotels which has received dividends a few years ago.
She is an avid golfer with a handicap of 28 and came first in the Womens’ Section of the Presidential Golf Day that took place in Cape Town in February this year. She also played in the First Lady’s Golf Tournament in Gauteng on Woman’s Day. This successful businesswoman also currently finds time to study towards a qualification in Communication Science with the University of South Africa.
Phatudi takes her life motto from author Harold Robbins: “Success comes from taking initiative and follow up, persisting, eloquently expressing the depth of your love. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum towards success in your life?”

BARRY VILJOEN
>>[email protected]