Southern African Business Leaders shine at the AABLA


aablaJohannesburg – The winners of the Southern African regional 2015 All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) in Partnership with CNBC Africa were announced at a glamorous ceremony held at the Hilton Sandton Hotel, Johannesburg on September 30.

The Southern African winners will go on to contend other regional winners from West and East Africa to determine Africa’s most respected business game-changer at the All Africa AABLA Finale, to take place in November. Known for identifying excellence in business on the continent, the All Africa Business Leaders Awards in Partnership with CNBC Africa recognise the challenges and diversity of the African business arena, and the Southern African awards highlight those who have shaped the regions business sector.

Attended by some of the biggest names in Southern African business, including Raymond and Wendy Ackerman, Wendy Applebaum, Edward Kieswetter and Dr Johan van Zyl among many, executive mayor of Johannesburg Parks Tau opened proceedings with a keynote address on the growth plans for the city.

The evening started with a special recognition by media partner Forbes Woman Africa, who, having awarded Phuti Mahanyele in 2014, handed over the Forbes Woman Africa Business Woman of the Year award to Wendy Appelbaum.

The first AABLA title of Young Business Leader of the Year – Southern Africa went to joint winners Ashley Uys, Managing Director of Real World Diagnostics for his exceptional work in the health sector, whilst John Nicolakakis, CEO of Romans Pizza was commended for his contribution to job creation and developing business opportunities. Sylvester Chauke, Founder of DNA BrandArchitects was also a finalist.

Jason Xenopoulos, CEO of NATIVE walked away as Entrepreneur of the Year – Southern Africa Presented by Sea Harvest, for his contribution to the creative industry, contending fellow finalists Samuel Seeff, Chairman of Seeff Properties, John Nicolakakis, CEO of Romans Pizza and Braam van Huyssteen, Founder of Tekkie Town. In his thank you speech, Xenopoulos highlighted the importance of leadership and strong values in Southern African business.

The Business Leader of the Year – Southern Africa Presented by Bosch saw three seasoned businessmen competing for the notable title, which was ultimately awarded to Dr Johan van Zyl, Group Chief Executive of Sanlam. Van Zyl was nominated in this category alongside Edward Kieswetter, CEO of Alexander Forbes and Sisa Ngebulana, CEO of Billion Group.

The title of Business Woman of the Year – Southern Africa went to Louisa Mojela and Gloria Serobe of WIPHOLD for their achievements spanning two decades.They ran against Natasha Sideris, Founder of Tashas and Jeanne Groenewald, Founder of Elgin Free Range Chickens.

Wendy Ackerman of The Ackerman Foundation received the newly added Philanthropist of the Year – Southern Africa award for her ongoing community work. The category was introduced at the 2015 AABLA to recognise those who seek to promote the welfare of others and to encourage more benevolence on the continent. Ackerman was nominated alongside Wendy Appelbaum of the Wendy Appelbaum Foundation and Solly Noor of the Solly and Zohra Noor Foundation.

Rachmat Thomas of Chic Shoe Manufacturing became the first in AABLA history to be named Industrialist of the Year for Southern Africa. As a new category to the AABLA, set on promoting beneficiation and manufacturing on the continent, the category winner was selected by the judges as a key contributor to driving economic growth.

The highlight of a magical night was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Southern Africa in association with the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, awarded to Dr Christo Wiese whose business empire has reached across Africa, Asia and Europe with his interest and influence ranging from fashion, to fitness, furniture, private equity and retail. In his thank you speech, Wiese highlighted the vast opportunities that Africa presents.

The AABLA Jaguar Land Rover fleet of luxury vehicles chauffeured nominees and judges alike to the event in style, with the 2015 AABLA masters of ceremony looking dapper in Carducci suits.

Now, regional winners will vie for the ultimate title of Africa’s business icon in their sector at the black tie All Africa Business Leaders Awards in Partnership with CNBC Africa All Africa Finale in Johannesburg on November 13, 2015 hosted by Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela, where the ultimate trailblazers of African business are named and commended for their part in the continent’s success.

With #AABLA2015 having trended on Twitter throughout the night and into the early morning in South Africa, the highlights of the ceremony will be broadcast on CNBC Africa on October 7 at 21h15 CAT.

For more information, go to and follow the 2015 All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA ( ) in Partnership with CNBC Africa on Twitter: @aablawards

The event will once again be produced by ABN Productions.