Last week, the final judging for the ELLE Impact2 International Awards took place and we were nothing but excited to have women on the forefront of not only the panel, but also at the forefront of sustainability in the community.

Dedicated to female-social entrepreneurship, the award itself was created by the leading global social investment firm Le Comptoir de l’Innovation (CDI) together with ELLE International. The initiative works to rise above the profit-driven economy to make environmental considerations, as displayed with the competing  candidates. The nine finalist countries each hold a round of judging where the four chosen candidates present their idea for social change to a panel of expertise.

Our South African panel consisted of successful women, each amazing in leadership and a commitment to social issues. This included director of Strategic Business Development at Ericsson South Africa (Pty) Nokuzola Ehrens, CEO of Vuma Reputation Janine Hills, President and Founder of Teach South Africa Futhi Mtoba, CEO of Facebook Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke, business woman and media personality Basetsana Kumalo, founder of 67 Blankets Carolyn Steyn, CEO of Impact Hub Natalie Miller, director of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs South Africa Bridget Fury, head of Brand SA Chichi Maponya, president of CDI Nicolas Hazard and publisher of Isiko Media Gisele Wertheim Aymes.

Among the finalists was the graphic designer and illustrator Ruramai Musekiwa, the founder of the social enterprise Sibahle (We Are Beautiful) who uses creative outlets to produce a positive African narrative. This initiative also publishes children’s books that carry a proudly South African history. The second finalist Lynn Worsley runs the small, green business All Women Recycling where she trains women in sales and business to manufacture the klinketyklinkbox (a eco-friendly box made from 2 litre bottles, sold in gift stores across the world). The third finalist Sue Barnes made a spotless impact with her business Subz, which designs underwear with washable sanitary pads (that are cost-friendly) to prevent students from missing school. The final contestant and overall winner was Thato Kgatlhanye. Mobilising students with tools to succeed, she is the founder of Rethaka Trading which manufactures Repurpose Schoolbags, the solar-powered backpacks, made from recycled plastic. These innovative bags charge on a child’s walk to and from school, later transforming into a light to enable them to finish homework and study at night.

All these ideas are socially conscious, empowering the community and ELLE couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. The winner Thato will represent the country on April 6th in Paris at ELLE Headquarters.

Tell us, what do you think of the Impact2 Awards @ELLEMagazineSA