Picture: Carmen Stevens, Douglas Chitepo (WCDoA) and Berene Damons.
Picture: Carmen Stevens, Douglas Chitepo (WCDoA) and Berene Damons.

CAPE TOWN - Two Western Cape female entrepreneurs were awarded national recognition at the acclaimed National Female Entrepreneur in Agriculture awards in Mpumalanga on 27 August 2017.

The awards were hosted by the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in partnership with all 9 provincial departments of agriculture. 

The aspiration of the event was to honour women in the agriculture.  

Western Cape received awards in three categories: Top Entrepreneur: Processing, Top Entrepreneur: Export Markets and Young Female Entrepreneur. 

Berene Damons from Tesselaarsdal Wines Pty Ltd is a winemaker from Hermanus who scooped up two of the three awards: The Top Entrepreneur: Processing award as well as the Ministerial Special Award: Young Female Entrepreneur. 

The remaining award was received by fellow winemaker Carmen Stevens from Carmen Stevens Wines Pty Ltd, Somerset West for The Top Entrepreneur: Export Markets. 

Stevens sets a proud record by being the first black person to study and qualify as a winemaker in South Africa in 1995. 
 
“I am so glad that through this competition women get recognition for their contribution to agriculture. I hope these awards encourage more young women to get involved in the sector", said double-award winner, Damons. 

Damons plans to use her R350 000 prize money as a deposit to buy land in Tesselaarsdal (Overberg) where she intends to plant her own Pinot Noir vineyards.

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Stevens said the awards can inspire other women to consider a future in agriculture. 

“The competition is a fantastic way to encourage more women to consider agriculture as a career possibility. At the moment I have a wine that I would really like to bottle. My winnings will be used to cover some of the funds needed for this new wine offering", said Stevens. 

Additionally, the provincial award for best management and compliance of the provincial leg of the competition was won by the Western Cape. 

Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, congratulated the women: 
 
“Berene and Carmen are ambassadors for our agriculture sector, who are shattering the old perception that agriculture is the domain of men. It is important to showcase the successes of female entrepreneurs in agriculture so we can encourage more women to enter this sector.  Berene and Carmen are not only important employers, they are inspiring a new generation of young people to consider a career in agriculture.  I am encouraged by their plans to expand their enterprises, and wish them every success for the future", said Winde. 

READ ALSO: Why Western Cape Agriculture matters to SA Economy

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE