South Africa Launches US Business and Investment Awards

September 30, 2014

NEW YORK  To recognise companies, NGO’s and individuals for their exemplary contributions to building a competitive, growing and inclusive South African economy,  Brand South Africa and South Africa’s diplomatic missions in the United States are launching the Siyabonga Awards at a gala dinner in New York on Tuesday, October 7.

Siyabonga is isiZulu for “thank you”. Inaugurated on the 20th anniversary of  South Africa’s democracy, the awards express the nation’s gratitude to its partners and friends in the US, including expatriates who are part of Brand South Africa’s Global South Africans initiative, for their support in achieving the country’s goals.

Defining those goals, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma recently told South Africa’s diplomatic corps that promoting trade and investment must be their “apex” priority over the next five years.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene will deliver the keynote address at the gala. He will be accompanied by Deputy Reserve Bank Governor Daniel Mminele as well as captains of South African and US industry.

The first cohort of  Siyabonga honorees are:

·      GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt.

·      Soula Proxenos, Managing Partner, International Housing Solutions.

·      Albert Maartens, President and CEO, Standard New York Securities, Inc.

·      Mary Tiseo,  Executive Director, South Africa Partners.

·      Donna Katzin, Executive Director, Shared Interests.

·      David Dinkins, former Mayor of New York.

The Siyabonga Business Award pays special tribute to GE’s focus on fostering local innovation and its willingness to invest in local capacity and business development. Accepting the award on Mr Immelt’s behalf  will be Tim Schweikert, President and CEO, China and Sub-Saharan Africa, GE Transportation.

GE is playing a critically important role in building South Africa’s transport  infrastructure and skills base.  The company is working with Transnet Rail Engineering to assemble locomotives locally in line with the government’s National Development Plan. It is also working with Sasol, the South African synthetic fuels and chemicals giant, to develop technology to clean waste water for industrial reuse while producing biogas for power generation.

The inaugural Siyabonga Global South African Awards go to Ms. Proxenos and Mr Maartens.

As managing partner of private equity firm International Housing Solutions, Ms. Proxenos has raised millions of dollars for investment in low and middle income housing in South Africa, changing lives on the ground while demonstrating to foreign investors that there are healthy returns to be made in these underserved segments of the South Africa housing market.

Ms Proxenos, who was born and raised in South Africa’s Gauteng province and has degrees from the universities of both Stellenbosch and the Witwatersrand, has worked tirelessly to expose US fund managers and private equity investors to the broader South Africa value proposition, partnering with Brand South Africa over the past four years to organise a series of regular investor engagements for government leaders and heads of mission.

Under Mr. Maartens’ leadership, Standard Bank’s US subsidiaries have been at the forefront of South Africa’s integration into the global economy. They work closely with the South African government and Brand South Africa to highlight the opportunities South Africa presents both in its own right and as a gateway into its fast-growing region.

Standard advises some of the largest US manufacturers, technology companies and retailers on their stategy for investing in South Africa. The bank also played a significant role in assisting the US government implement the PEPFAR initative to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Shared Interest’s Donna Katzin and South Africa Partners Mary Tiseo  share the first Siyabonga Friend of South Africa Award for their extraordinary contributions, both individually and through their organisations, first in helping South Africa achieve its democracy and then in ensuring that previously disadvantaged South Africans are able to reap freedom’s full harvest.

With apartheid’s demise, South Africa asked international supporters of the freedom struggle to redirect their tremendous energy and commitment from isolating the country’s now defunct racist autocracy to promoting resource flows and investment into the new non-racial democracy.

Ms. Katzin and Shared Interest have answered the call by raising capital in the US from individuals, foundations and financial institutions to support microlending, agricultural cooperatives and small business in South Africa. Ms. Tiseo and South Africa Partners have focussed on building mutually beneficial partnerships between the US and South Africa in the areas of health and education. Both awardees have been unstinting in the help and support they have given South Africa’s missions in the US.

Former New York Mayor David Dinkins, who receives the Siyabonga Lifetime Commitement Award, needs no introduction.  The mayor has been a matchless drum major for freedom and inclusive prosperity in South Africa both in and out of office.

Principally underwritten by Brand South Africa with  generous support from Standard Bank and South Africa’s Department of  Trade and Industry and Department of International Relations and Cooperation,  the awards gala is being held at the Marriott Marquis hotel on Times Square. The venue was selected in recognition of the vote of confidence Marriott recently gave South Africa and its region in acquiring South Africa’s Protea Hotel Group.

For further information,  please contact Brand South Africa’s US Country Manager on +1 202 276 5084 or

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