Importance of mentoring female business owners of the future

    Prem Govender

    In celebration of Women’s Month, the South African Institute of Professional Accountants is putting the spotlight on members of the Institute who are not only making a difference in the industry, but also having a profoundly positive impact on the female professional accountants of the future. One such member is SAIPA’s Eastern Region Chair (Kwa-Zulu Natal) and eThekwini District Chair, Prem Govender.

    Govender runs her own practice, Mosswick Investments (Pty) Ltd, a company that was started by her late father 56 years ago. Her successful company not only services various clients, but it also does accounting and tax work pro bono for several welfare, religious organisations and schools.

    “I live by the mantra that we need to give back to the communities in which we operate, and I am actively investing in the mentorship and empowerment of women within my business. In my role at SAIPA, one of my goals is to encourage more females to join the accounting profession and to succeed in this goal, I need to be a role model,” says Govender.

    Helping women where it matters
    Govender encourages her employees to pursue further qualifications, learn different parts of the accounting industry, and stay abreast of legislation. As a mother, she says she knows how hard it can be for women with young children to balance work life and the demands of a household, which she says may makes her naturally more empathetic and willing to help make their lives easier whenever she can.

    “I never say that the women work for me, but rather that they work with me. I’m never too busy to explain something they are having difficulty with, I regard them as my equals and nobody gets reprimanded in front of clients. If an error creeps into someone’s work, I take responsibility because the buck stops with me,” says Govender.

    Differentiating your business in KZN
    Govender says that businesses in Kwa-Zulu Natal face unique challenges but that tailoring her company’s service offering has helped it to grow and flourish in the region.

    “Despite our province boasting two of the largest ports in Africa, we are still seen as ‘the poor cousins’ because we don’t have a large financial hub. Despite much potential, local industries in Kwa-Zulu Natal often face financial hardships due to a lack of direct investment,” says Govender.

    Accounting firms in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and across South Africa, are plentiful, which is why Govender has focused on training her staff to provide a high level of service.

    “What has helped us to differentiate ourselves in the region is our high level of service and attention to detail,” says Govender.

    Govender concludes by saying that all business owners should be investing in mentoring the women within their businesses.

    “We need to take them under our wing, mentor them and teach them everything we know. This needs to be done with kindness and compassion but mostly with enthusiasm and passion.”

    Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co, the finance and accounting recruitment partner to SAIPA, agrees that female role models are so important to remind young girls of what they too can be because “if you can see it, you can be it.”

    “Research shows that there is a strong correlation between woman with strong and positive role models and women with leadership goals. Role models are not only important for women who are already building their careers but also for future generations,” comments Georgina.