This after being named Country Winner (South Africa) and Regional Winner (SADC Southern Region) in the Small, Medium and Large Enterprises (SME) sector.
As an SADC regional winner, Engelbrecht is a finalist in the continental awards, to be held at the end of this month in Johannesburg.
Engelbrecht said she was taken by surprise when she received an email last month from Annelize Wepener, chief executive of CEO Global, which read: “Alison, you have been acknowledged for the work you have committed your life to; it is a remarkable achievement. After spending a tough five months searching for the cream of the crop, we take great pride in congratulating you for being recognised with two top awards in your sector - well done!”
Almost 4 000 nominations were received from individuals and the business community, from across 23 sectors in Africa.
Engelbrecht’s question was: “Why me, as I don’t directly generate income or employment? Everything I do is voluntary and it’s difficult to measure the successes.”
She describes herself as “a farm girl with a laptop, cellphone and a passion for encouraging entrepreneurial women”.
In July 2005, Engelbrecht founded Women in Business (WIB), which she also facilitates. WIB is affiliated to the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, with Engelbrecht serving on the executive committee and board.
In 2016, she was offered the chance to be a “mentee” with the international Cherie Blair Foundation’s (CBF) Mentoring Women in Business Programme and subsequently continued as a mentor for the CBF. As a result, she developed a plan to implement a similar, yet non-formalised, concept for South Africa’s rural entrepreneurial women.
Through an online support programme, she has also interacted with more than 280 businesswomen around the world, and says she thrives on offering support: “If I can help someone else make their life a success, or run their business more profitably, it’s worth my time,” she said.
The awards acknowledge both the support and development of the SME sector, which is the backbone of the economy, and approaches that encourage entrepreneurial women.