Keynote speakers

Dr. Zweli Mkhize

Dr. Zweli Mkhize

Treasurer General of the ANC, Former Premier of KZN

Zweli Mkhize is the Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is the Treasurer-General of African National Congress. He was the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Province until August 2013. He is a South African doctor, legislator and politician.

Glen Robbins

Glen Robbins

Urban Futures Centre: Getting the basics right in the business environment.

Glen Robbins is an Honorary Research Fellow at the new Urban Futures Centre of Durban University of Technology and an independent economic development researcher and consultant. He has worked in South Africa and internationally as a specialist in urban and regional economic development, industrial policy and local government. His career has involved work as a senior manager in government in South Africa, specialist consulting roles for a range of international organisations and an extended association with academia. He also serves on the boards of a number of non-profit entities, is a current commissioner on both the KwaZulu-Natal Planning Commission and the eThekwini City Planning Commission and has, since 2011, served on the Statictics Council of Statistics South Africa.

Ashwin Willemse

Ashwin Willemse

Entrepreneur & Activist: Building a brand & building a business

Ashwin Willemse is a retired South African rugby union player. He played at wing for the national team, the Springboks. He was one of the outstanding performers during the 2003 season.

Entrepreneur panel

Akhona Mahlati

Akhona Mahlati

Director - Business Fit

Akhona Mahlati has a B.Com degree in Marketing and Business Management from the University of Natal, Durban, along with a strategic marketing certificate (A-Z of Strategic Brand Management) from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. Above these qualifications, he has also supplemented his knowledge and experience with a plethora of various leadership and business related courses, conferences, interventions and programmes which have broadened both his education and his skills set. His businesses, Ewe Sana! Marketing and Communications and Business Fit, are the two businesses which mainly keep Akhona out of trouble.

Dulcie Zinhle Sokhela

Dulcie Zinhle Sokhela

Entrepreneur

Zinhle Sokhela is the Executive Chairperson and CEO for Masana and Arise Trading Trusts. She holds an MBA from MANCOSA and has been in business for more than 25 years. She is the former President of Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, and part of her involvement in other organisations includes that of being a member of UKZN Council, Deputy Chair of Council for Umgungundlovu TVET College, Deputy Chair of the Board for Umgungundlovu Economic Development Agency, Chairperson of Safe City Msunduzi Pty Ltd and was the Chairperson of the Board for Dihlase Engineering Pty Ltd. Zinhle was awarded by South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry as “Business Woman of the Year 2010”. In 2003, she was awarded the “Mayoral Award” for her outstanding leadership, performance and contribution in economic development. Zinhle is a member of the Institute of Directors South Africa.

Aart Verrips

Aart Verrips

Chairman AHI KZN; MD RBI Tech

Aart Verrips has been the Managing Director of RBI Technical Solutions International since 2013. Before that he was the Managing Director of Innovative Inspection Services KZN, He is a qualified IPE Inspector as well as a Competent Person in Pressure vessels. He also holds a Diploma as an International Inspector In Welding. He has 25 years’ experience in the Industry and is the AHI Chairman for KZN as well as Vice Chairman of the provincial Council of AHI. Aart is an Active member and president of Durban South Business Chamber.

Darlene Menzies

Darlene Menzies

CEO: FindFind

Darlene is a tech innovator and serial entrepreneur. She is the founder of the award winning online accounting software SMEasy as well as Finfind, an online access to finance solution for entrepreneurs recently launched by the Minister of Small Business Development. Darlene won SA Innovation Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2010 and has also been recognised by Swiss-based Stars Group as a future Global Leader. Darlene believes that technology should play a leading role in the fight against poverty in Africa. She has been invited to speak in Zurich and London on harnessing technology for Social Change. Darlene works alongside Government, Business and Civil Society to address youth unemployment and to develop small businesses in South Africa. Her life motto is “to live an extraordinary life you must resist an ordinary approach”.

Bunny Bhoola

MD African Link Travel

Bunny Bhoola cemented her place as one of the top 100 people in tourism after she was named in the Africa Travel 100 Women: The Leaders, Pioneers and innovators of Tourism and Travel list. Over the years, Bhoola has earned various prestigious awards such as the Chamber of Business award and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2003, and is a two-time winner of the Impumulelo Award. Constantly involved in developing the Pietermaritzburg business community through initiatives such as being a chairperson and long-standing member of the Kwa-Zulu Natal tourism services association (SATSA), Bhoola is also a current member of the SATSA Exco committee of Pietermaritzburg tourism. She further asserted that growth was possible in the Pietermaritzburg tourism industry but it just needed more “belief” and idea generation on a global scale.

Panel Discussion

Matthew Savides

Matthew Savides

News Editor - KZN Bureau

Matthew has been a journalist for the last dozen years, starting at The Mercury newspaper while still a journalism student at the Durban University of Technology. He moved through the ranks at the Durban-based publication to become its Local Government Reporter. He then moved on to the Sunday Tribune newspaper before taking up a senior reporter position at the Sunday Times’ Durban office in 2012. In the beginning of 2017 he was appointed Durban Bureau news editor, where he is responsible for content for the daily The Times newspaper, for the Sunday Times and for the Tiso Blackstar group’s online publications, including TimesLIVE and SowetanLIVE.

Prof Edith Vries

Prof Edith Vries

Director General (DG) of Department of Small Business Development

Edith Vries is the DG of the Department of Small Business Development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science, an Honours Degree in Psychiatric Social Work and a Masters Social Science specialising in Clinical Social Work. Vries is a fellow of the South Africa Harvard Fellowship Programme and of the Wits-Harvard Senior Executive Programme. She is a Gestalt practitioner and ultimately served as Acting Vice-Rector: Student Affairs at UWC. Vries has been Executive Director at the Independent Development Trust and Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Slindile Khanyile

Slindile Khanyile

Editor - Isolezwe Publication

Slindile Khanyile is a versatile journalist with experience in field reporting, producing radio current affairs shows, sports writing, financial journalism, copy editing, proof reading, launching newspapers and newsroom management. She is currently the editor of iSolezwe, a Zulu daily title. She was appointed to this position beginning of November 2016. Her primary mandate is to drive the paper’s growth strategy including its sister weekend papers, iSolezwe ngoMgqibelo and iSolezwe ngeSonto.

Lukhona Mnguni

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Lukhona Mnguni holds a Bachelor of Community and Development Studies (cum laude) and an Honours Degree in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies (cum laude), both from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Mnguni holds an MSc in Africa and International Development from the University of Edinburgh in November 2015 after having received the Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue his studies. He currently serves as a PhD intern Researcher in the Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit in the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He believes in the promotion of dialogue as a tool to foster inclusive and sustainable solutions to development.

Panel Discussion

Thabile Leoka

Thabile Leoka

Economic Strategist Argon Asset Management

PhD & M Sc (Economics) London School of Economics, UK MA (International Economics) Wits University (first-class and recipient of a Merit award), BA (Wits University). Thabi is our Economic Strategist, reporting to the Chief Investment Officer. She provides important input into the work of our Macro Desk (multi asset and fixed income teams).

Isaac Matshego

Isaac Matshego

Senior Economist Nedbank

Isaac is an Economist in the Group Economic Unit, Nedbank Group. He was previously with Standard Bank Ltd’s Group Economics Division – Africa Desk, and Investment Solutions Ltd’s Market and Economic research unit. He holds degrees in Economics from the University of North West and the University of South Africa and is studying towards a Masters in Development Finance with the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. His research interests include sovereign risk analysis and the development of capital markets in developing economies. He is a regular commentator in the print and electronic media.

Dante Mashile

Dante Mashile

Regional Head Marketing and Corporate Relations at Absa/Barclays Africa Group, KwaZulu-Natal

Dante Mashile is Regional Head of Absa Marketing and Corporate Relations in KZN. He is a public policy analyst specializing in telecommunications, local government and trade and industry. He is an Accredited Public Relations Practitioner, an international professional status conferred by Public Relations Institute for Southern Africa (PRISA). Dante has over 18 years’ experience in the marketing, communication and public affairs, stakeholder relationship management disciplines. In 2009, he joined Absa/Barclays Group as Group Government Relations Manager. He has worked in both the public and private sectors. He has a Bachelor of Arts, National Diploma in Journalism and Graduate Diploma in Telecoms and Information Policy. He is a member of Reputation Institute and PRISA. Dante has a Certificate in Project Management from the Fontys University of Professional Education in Netherlands He is currently reading for a Masters in Development Studies at University of Kwazulu-Natal, Howard College.

Chris Darroll

CEO of the Small Business Project

Chris Darroll is the founder and chief executive of Small Business Project, SBP. SBP specialises in undertaking targeted and robust evidence-based research to inform government policy-making, support SME development and job creation, assist in improving the efficiency of regulatory frameworks and administrative procedures for private sector growth. Chris has more than 26 years’ experience in private sector development, with a special focus on SMEs and job creation. Chris has served as an advisor to several key South African and African government Ministers on addressing constraints to private sector growth and SME development in particular. Chris was a primary architect of the pan-African Investment Climate Facility for Africa.