Paving the way: Celeste Margo Le Roux wins at Standard Bank Top Women Awards
JOHANNESBURG - Philippa Larkin
Go getter Celeste Margo Le Roux, 42, the co-founder and chief executive at React24, who is passionate about transformation in the construction sector, has recently won Top Woman Entrepreneur in the Standard Bank Top Women Awards.
The Standard Bank Top Women Awards honours those whose unfailing vision and innovative leadership have positively impacted women in South Africa. In response to the unprecedented global pandemic, the awards have moved to become completely virtual.
“We believe that now more than ever, it is crucial to recognise the companies and individuals such as Celeste Le Roux who are making impactful change for gender empowerment in South Africa,” said Karla Fletcher, the head of marketing at Topco Media.
Earlier this year she also won The 2020 Woman Mentor of the Year at the inaugural Empowerment and Recognition of Women in Construction Awards 2020.
Le Roux describes herself as an ambassador for transformation and changing the narrative within the South African building, environment and construction Industry.
"The mere fact that I am a woman, is a challenge within this industry. As a woman, your leadership is questioned, what experience you have and what technical expertise. However, societal biases are also doing our communities a disservice. Because we prescribe to the narrative that certain industries are just for men, we have many unemployed women, who would have benefited from a skill such as plumbing, electrical, carpentry etc," she says.
Le Roux says the reality is that the construction industry in the Western Cape, in particular, is still very white, male-dominated and women of colour are still being marginalised.
"Large construction firms who are granted tenders, take advantage of the “little” guys by paying them minimally because they are not formally qualified," she says.
"We have a situation where because certain companies have done business with contractors for 50 / 60 years, people of colour, particularly women, are excluded. In this regard, we need to raise awareness and stand up for what we believe to be right."
As Le Roux garners accolades, one needs to reflect on her past to see how far she has come on her path to success. She is not only an entrepreneur, but also a loving wife and dedicated mother.
Le Roux grew up in Retreat on the Cape Flats.
Like many previously disadvantaged individuals she did not have the opportunity to go and study, but was expected to work and help her family.
"Only now at 42, I have been blessed with the opportunity to study a PGDip in Management Practice at UCT Graduate School of Business. It’s a dream come true as I’ve always wanted to be a UCT student," says Le Roux.
Le Roux founded React24 around the kitchen table in her home, with her husband, two artisans and one vehicle. React24 is now a national site services company, rendering all built environment disciplines under one roof, 24/7 to facilities management companies, parastatals and insurance houses.
React24 established a regional office in Johannesburg in 2014. React24 on September 22 launched the React Training College, the first black female-owned and CETA accredited plumbing college.
Le Roux says, "The college was a vision where we wanted to train artisans to be qualified and highly sought after. There is an adage which says 'give someone a fish and you feed him for a day but teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime'. And that is at the core of the training college. Where artisans can walk away having gained new knowledge and skills to enable them to provide for their families."
She outlines her success with React24.
"Firstly, I am extremely passionate about our brand. I believe that our biggest asset is our human capital and the development and upskilling of our people is paramount to the success of our business. Perseverance and tenacity and not taking “no” for an answer have also stood me in good stead."
Le Roux says entrepreneurs must not wait until the circumstances or environment are “right”.
"Just do it! "
"Also, if we keep the skills within South Africa, we can make a difference and I am optimistic about our future. We can no longer depend on the government to fix everything. We need to develop a mindset where we are the change that we want to see."