With this in mind, the Women’s Property Network (WPN) established the WPN Educational Trust in 2008 to assist previously disadvantaged female students wishing to pursue a career in the South African property sector.
Fund raising initiatives for the Educational Trust include the annual South African Women in Property Awards. Significant pledges and contributions made by organisations in the property industry have also ensured that the WPN Educational Trust has continued to uphold the principles of the Trust which include:
• Identify worthy candidates for educational sponsorship of property related degrees or diplomas
• Introduce the bursary recipients to the WPN and broader membership base.
• Develop a pool of “new blood” and talent for the industry.
Since inception, over 98 bursaries in excess of R4 million have been awarded. In 2018, 29 bursaries amounting to R1, 5million have been awarded to deserving students, which is a record in terms of the annual number of bursaries previously awarded. The success of the 2018 bursary awards can be attributed to the extensive marketing efforts by the WPN in 2017, and the continued commitment by valued sponsors. In addition to offering bursaries to students, a portion of the funds is also set aside annually for women already active in the industry but looking to improve their skill set, through various post-graduate studies..
Says Sandi Mbutuma, WPN National Chairperson, “The number of bursaries offered by the WPN Educational Trust is growing year on year, and this is testimony to the commitment of the property industry in South Africa to education and inclusive growth in the sector. Without the significant contributions and support of companies such as the Delta Property Fund (whom have supported the Trust consecutively for four years), SFI Group and Attacq, the WPN Educational Trust would not be able to fulfil its mandate.”
The awarding of bursaries is in accordance to strict criteria, one of which is that funding is only considered for students from the second year of study, and students making application need to demonstrate strong academic performance and aa passion and understanding for the industry. The 2018 bursary awards cover a range of courses from second year through to Masters level.
The Educational Trust has an independent board of trustees, who are senior and well-respected members in the property industry. Trustees include, Refqah Fataar Ho-Yee, Director of Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes, , Ipeleng Mkhari, Founder and CEO of Motseng Investment Holdings and Amelia Beattie, CEO Liberty Two Degrees. Amelia Beattie has recently resigned her position as Trustee and the WPN looks forward to welcoming Jackie van Niekerk, COO, Attacq in the near future.
Commenting on her bursary award, Raiyaanah Begg; “For me, receiving a bursary to further my studies in Architectural Technology is a rare and exciting opportunity for which I am truly grateful. I believe in the empowerment of women and creating connections through a network that can help in the building of one’s success. I am privileged to be a second time receiver of the WPN bursary. Not only did the WPN help me through my 2017 year of study, but assisted in expanding my thinking as to the opportunities that could further my future in the built environment.”
In addition to the bursary awards, the students are encouraged to attend the regular networking events hosted by the WPN such that they are provided with exposure to leading women in the industry, a platform to engage, and gain a better understanding of the industry. Upon graduation, the are encouraged to join the WPN as fully-fledged members to ensure that they contribute to the pool of young talent in the industry and the mentorship of young women looking to further their career in property.