HARD work and a passion are what drives Kowie Toyota boss Noleen Acton and, at the recent Investec Business Woman of the Year awards her success was recognised by her peers as she was acknowledged as the Eastern Cape region’s top female entrepreneur at the prestigious event.
Held at the Boardwalk Hotel in Port Elizabeth on June 21, a total of 18 finalists were honoured over six categories that included businesswomen who are social entrepreneurs, emerging entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs along with women in corporate positions and government.
Acton was nominated in the entrepreneurial category. “I was so honoured to be nominated,” she said.
However, that was just the beginning of the adventure.
“Of the three finalists in each category, we had to submit a portfolio of our achievements and documentary evidence to back it up,” said Acton. “Criteria were to be owner or part-owner of the business, at least three years in management of the business, show that the business is viable and lucrative and show growth and profitability. It is important that nominees are businesswomen that stand up, speak up and shake up industries in their pursuit of excellence.”
All the information was then adjudicated by a panel of experts in their field. The finalists were also sent to Port Elizabeth where they were filmed and invited to talk on local radio about themselves and their experiences in business.
In the end there could only be one winner, and all the finalists were invited to the gala event and the prizes awarded. The guest speaker on the evening was Wendy Luhabe, herself a social entrepreneur and economic activist.
“She is an inspiration,” commented Acton.
Asked if it is more difficult for women to succeed in business, Acton was bullish.
“No, not necessarily. However, in a male-dominated environment like the automotive industry one needs to have an understanding of the business, a deep passion for what you do, and most importantly earn the respect of the people,” she said.
“However, none of this would have been possible without my staff, my family and the support and confidence of my customers. Thank you all.”