Our story

By understanding our reason
for existence and learning
from our past, we are able to
shape our future.

It has been an unbelievable 30 years. The lessons we have learned and the change we have been fortunate enough to be part of enables us to drive the change needed for years to come.

Johannesburg Business Women’s Club


The Johannesburg Business Women’s Club was established in 1985.

National Council for Business Women


The National Council for Business Women was established in 1988. It became a necessity to establish a national council as more and more clubs were being founded. Rika Venter became the first president.

Rika Venter


She was known as someone who would simply close the doors at the starting time of an event. Everyone knew never to be late!

business women’s clubs were established


By 1992, five business women’s clubs were established across the country.

The National Council for Business Women took over the competition


The sought-after Business Woman of the Year competition were run by the Johannesburg Business Women Club from 1987 to 1992. The National Council for Business Women took over the competition in 2003. In 2003 there were two categories: Entrepreneurial Business Woman of the Year and Corporate Business Woman of the Year.



The Gala-evening, where the winners were announced, used to be held in the Johannesburg Sun.

Kotie Botha


In 1992, our then President Kotie Botha, held a function for top speakers at RAU. One of the female speakers at the event had the experience that in those days companies didn’t have toilets for women on the top floors of company buildings, as men believed that women would never reach those positions.

Matty Reid


Winner of the 1988 Entrepreneurial Business Woman of the Year award, told women that they were busy breathing through their husbands. She did this because women in those days weren’t allowed to do anything without their husband’s permission. They weren’t even allowed their own tax number. If they wanted to apply for a loan in order to start a business, that had to ask their husbands to sign for it. This made it almost impossible for many women to start a business, because their husbands simply didn’t allow it.

Johannesburg Business Chamber


The Johannesburg Business Women’s Club seceded from the Johannesburg Business Chamber. The management of the business chamber made the women of the Business Club sit across from them in order for them to explain this “women thing” they were busy doing.

Theresa van der Merwe


In 1993, George Huysamer of the Afrikaanse Handels Instituut, approached the National Council of Business Women to do lead one of the four talking points at one of their congresses. Theresa van der Merwe lead the talking point. She discussed entrepreneurship and did an amazing job!

Pat Gorvalla


Pat Gorvalla from Cape Town won the Entrepreneurial Business Woman of the Year award in 1991. She was a teacher that wanted to add to her salary by starting a weekend taxi. She ended up earning more on weekends than she did working as a teacher. By the time she entered the competition she owned 22 taxis, 4 S Class Mercedes Benzes, a petrol business, panel beating business, hair salon, florist and some other businesses too.

Thelma Mathamelo


In 2010, Thelma Mathamelo became the first black president of SACBW.

Re-engineering process for the SACBW


In 2018, the Honourary Life Members Team implemented a re-engineering process for the SACBW that puts our “WHY” at the heart of all activities.

past presidents

1988 – 1990

Rika Venter


Annique Theron


Kotie Botha


Erna Pretorius

1994 – 1995

Retha Nel-Rossouw


Theresa van der Merwe

1997- 1999

Winda Austin-Loeve


Rita Aucamp

2001 – 2003

Hermine Wilken

2004 -2005

Janine Myburgh

2006 -2007

Diana Becker

2008 – 2009

Elise Coetser


Thelma Mathamelo

2010 – 2013

Melinda Stark


Hester de Bruyn


Cerita Nagy


Ancois van Zyl (Acting)


Honorary Life Members Executive Committee