by Patricia Handley

Unsung heroine

Chipping away at layers of poverty

Lillian Masebenza of Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurship Network
Lillian Photo-1.jpg


The unique business model developed by social entrepreneur Lillian Masebenza, to enable individuals to overcome poverty by creating sustainable livelihoods for themselves, embraces an approach to wealth creation that also solves social problems. Moreover, at the heart of this business model is an emphasis on social cohesion that aligns it with the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030 for South Africa.


Masebenza was made an Ashoka Fellow in 2008 by the international social entrepreneurial organisation that recognises 'innovators for the public' who have solutions to social problems and the potential to change society. It is but one of a number of accolades she has received, including being a finalist for the Ernst & Young Global Entrepreneurship Award (South Africa) in 2010 and for the Businesswomen's Association South Africa Business Achiever Award in 2008.


The employment of local women in sewing activities in Limpopo province in 1991 was the first entrepreneurial project that Masebenza set up, while she was employed at the University of Venda. She received the Venda Development Corporation Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1993 and the Great North Emergent Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1994 for her efforts.      


Read the full story in the forthcoming edition of Black Business Quarterly, available exclusively from CNA toward the end of June 2013.

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