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Change needs

to be deliberate

Daniella Fourie [Keet]

Head of Private Equity at FNB Commercial

It is no surprise that we are seeing a rise in the number of women who are doing exceptionally well in private equity.

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As the saying goes, an equity investment is like a family relationship – it requires deep connections amongst parties, constant nurturing, diverse skills that one cannot always learn from a textbook, and the ability to operate through stressful, sleepless nights – and this is pretty much the DNA that women are made of.

 

It takes a lot for women to tackle the private equity world. Success requires that the best talent forego years of a stable job and income for an uncertain upside.

 

I’m so proud of, and humbled by, the strong-willed and resilient women that have navigated this space. It is testament to women backing themselves to be spectacular. And I’m extremely grateful to the organisation I work for, FNB Commercial, that has recognised these challenges and has supported various Black Woman Fund Managers through this challenging transition.

 

This was made possible by FNB Commercial’s Black Business Growth Funding (BBGF) Transformational Equity initiative, backed by a capital commitment of R400m to support and enable equity investments by a select panel of Black-owned private equity fund managers, with a particular focus on Black-Women-owned investment businesses.

 

Reflecting on the progress made by some of our partners, like Raise Africa, Kazi Capital and Moshe Capital, has been very rewarding. Private Equity needs strong leaders, diversity, and intuition, and having more women at boardroom tables offers just that. At FNB Commercial, we have been deliberate about achieving this.

 

Nicole Sykes heads up our Women in Business initiative, and through this we have partnered with organisations that support the growth and education of women in business. Some of these include the SAVCA incubation programme (which complemented our BBGF initiative), Future Females, The Women’s Property Network, Business Engage, The Graça Machel Trust and the Cape Innovation and Technology Institute. We are also deliberate about ensuring that we tell the stories of the incredible women in this country through a series of podcasts called, “She Means Business”.

 

The BEE codes have been vocal in pushing for diversity. In many instances, a 30% Black Women ownership gets a company similar BEE-ownership recognition as a 51% Black ownership. While the percentages were not based on actual data, I personally believe a further comprehensive review could potentially yield results supporting a gender productivity analysis. However, what it really shows is how serious we, as a country, are about supporting women entering this space and giving them a stepping stone to achieve results.

 

Based on my observation, when women prove themselves in the Private Equity field, they get more and more confident in juggling different responsibilities. We often celebrate when their various roles start to become more about ability than responsibility: “I can fetch my child from school and make the board meeting” rather than, “I must fetch my child from school”.

 

This is not only fantastic for the business world, but also for the next generation that women are nurturing. And better still, we are even seeing men follow suit and play more active roles in the home.

 

Women are adding great value on their own terms, in an environment that is giving them flexibility to thrive.

 

Change needs to be deliberate. I’m proud to continue being part of this deliberate change, and the impact that women are making as investors and board representatives in the business landscape in South Africa.

 

We are all better off for this.

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