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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Alumna Anesca is a power woman

MAKING WAVES: Anesca Smith is the founder of We Be Sisters MAKING WAVES: Anesca Smith is the founder of We Be Sisters

Alumna Anesca Smith is making waves in the Netherlands where she recently scooped the Public Vote in the 99 PowerVrouwen Award (PowerWomen) for her business, We Be Sisters.

The clothing brand sells handmade, African-inspired clothes for women.

Smith, who grew up in the small town of Saron, graduated from CPUT in 1998 with a journalism qualification and following a successful journalism career left South Africa to pursue a Bachelor in Business Studies in the Netherlands.

“I met and fell in love with my husband about a minute after I arrived here and that was that,” says Smith who has now lived in the Netherlands for more than six years.

The 99 PowerVrouwen Award is an initiative by Lucinda Douglas, a highly sought-after speaker and female empowerment coach in the Netherlands who also hails from South Africa.

“She interviews businesswomen here in the Netherlands by way of a vlog over the course of a year and these women are nominated for 99 Powervrouwen. In the end, two prizes are awarded - the Jury Award and the Public Vote Award, which I won. The night of the ceremony all these businesswomen get together and vote for the person they found most inspiring and that is how I won,” said Smith.

We Be Sisters was started after Smith lost her baby in 2016.

“So to get out of my head I needed to do something with my hands or I would have gone crazy. I started making clothes for myself and Lucinda encouraged me to start a business around it. There is so much support for entrepreneurs in the Netherlands, so that helped.”

The brand has given her the opportunity to show what Africa has to offer.

“Whenever I return to South Africa I am always in awe about how great the women dress. French women got nothing on us! I want to bring some of that swag to Europe. I also love the idea of slow fashion, handmade goods and curbing waste so everything we make is made to order. Aside from samples, I don’t store excess stock.”

Smith has the following words of advice for CPUT students with dreams of opening their own business: “Lifelong learning is the norm here in the Netherlands - especially important given the speed at which technology is evolving. Equip yourself for the 4th industrial revolution. At the same time, don’t let money and ambition be your god. Nelson Mandela was a great example for us in this. While in prison he never stopped learning and he always put people first.”

Written by Ilse Fredericks

Email: Frederickskennediji@cput.ac.za