The winners were announced during a gala evening held in Mpumalanga on Sunday evening (27 August 2017). Provincial winners from all nine provinces competed.
Berene Damons (Tesselaarsdal Wines Pty Ltd), a winemaker from Hermanus, received the award in the category Top Entrepreneur: Processing as well as the Ministerial Special Award: Young Female Entrepreneur.
Carmen Stevens (Carmen Stevens Wines Pty Ltd) a winemaker from Somerset West, received the award in the category Top Entrepreneur: Export Markets. Stevens was the first black person to study and qualify as a winemaker in South Africa in 1995.
Damons, a double-award winner, said: “I am so glad that through this competition women get recognition for their contribution to agriculture. I hope these awards encourage more young women to get involved in the sector.”
She said she will be using her R350 000 prize money as a deposit to buy land in Tesselaarsdal (Overberg), on which to plant her own Pinot Noir vineyards.
Stevens said the awards served as an inspiration to other women to explore a future in agriculture.
“The competition is a fantastic way to encourage more women to consider agriculture as a career possibility. At the moment I have a wine that I would really like to bottle. My winnings will be used to cover some of the funds needed for this new wine offering.”
In addition, the Western Cape won the provincial award for best management/compliance of the provincial leg of the competition.
An initiative of the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the awards are hosted in partnership with all provincial departments of agriculture. The competition seeks to honour women in agriculture.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, congratulated Damons and Stevens.
“Berene and Carmen are ambassadors for our agriculture sector, who are shattering the old perception that agriculture is the domain of men. It is important to showcase the successes of female entrepreneurs in agriculture so we can encourage more women to enter this sector. Berene and Carmen are not only important employers, they are inspiring a new generation of young people to consider a career in agriculture. I am encouraged by their plans to expand their enterprises, and wish them every success for the future.”