Clarins Most Dynamic Women Awards 2016
Leigh Bristow

Clarins Most Dynamic Women inspires female entrepreneurs

One thing I’m rather passionate about is the idea of building up strong female business leaders and entrepreneurs. With the rise of digital and the internet as a medium this has become far more easier. Hell, you can set up a blog, write a few stories about tech and suddenly you’re a business owner!

I really feel rather strongly about the fact that the digital space is a tool to be used to grow female entrepreneurship.

However, we live in a country where just a little over 1% of the population has access to the internet. We need to focus strongly on increasing education to ensure more young girls can get online.

Clarins Most Dynamic Women Awards 2016

The Clarins Most Dynamic Women Awards celebrate women around the world doing incredible things for others in a host of fields including education and healthcare. This year’s winner was Leigh Bristow. Leigh runs the Sumbandila Scholarship Trust. The trust identifies previously disadvantaged children in the Vhembe district of Limpopo and then gives them financial, academic and emotional support through their high school careers. The trust them helps them apply for bursaries to study further and has set up houses in Johannesburg and Pretoria to help them transition into varsity life after leaving a rather rural and isolated area.

Leigh’s passion is incredible and her story inspiring. Take a look:

I was able to sit down with Leigh and chat about the Clarins Most Dynamic Award and her work. I was also able to spend some time speaking to Christian Courtin-Clarins, the President of the Supervisory Board at Clarins.

Clarins Most Dynamic Women Awards 2016
Selfies with Christian Courtin-Clarins: President of the Supervisory Board at Clarins

His passion for the youth and passion for a brand that was started by his family was awe-inspiring. However, I’m not going to use this post to rubber gob about how inspired I was by Christian and Leigh or how Leigh struggles to get local organisations to support her trust and rather hunts for funding internationally. I’m not going to go in to detail about the incredible successes she has celebrated with her students or the hardships they have faced.

Clarins Most Dynamic Women Awards 2016
‎Thiofhi Lambani, Jenna Courtin-Clarins, Leigh Bristow and Christian Courtin-Clarins.

Instead, I’m going to post about ‎Thiofhi Lambani.

Thiofhi was identified as a candidate for Sumbandila when she was in her teens. The great thing about Sumbandila is that it isn’t only about academic excellence. Leigh looks for children who embody an entrepreneur type spirit. She says she looks for the rebel and the free thinker. Thiofhi was this girl. Thiofhi had dreams of going to University to be an Engineer as this was her mother’s dream. Unfortunately her Science marks did not meet the requirements and so she took a gap year working in the admin office at the Trust.

Clarins Most Dynamic Women Awards 2016
Leigh Bristow and ‎Thiofhi Lambani

This is a girl who came from a rural village, who had to learn to speak, read and write in English and at 14 learn how to use a computer. Things we take for granted but major struggles for others. Thiofhi did this and, while working in the office, started to investigate the world of social media. She indentified that this would be the future of marketing and began to read up. She taught herself the business side and started running Sumbandila’s social accounts. She applied for digital internships at some of the leading fashion publications locally and has now worked for two major magazines in the past year. She plans to study business management with a specialisation in marketing next year.

Clarins Most Dynamic Women Awards 2016
Christian Courtin-Clarins chatting to us while Leigh and Lynne Hanna: CEO at Clarins South Africa look on.

Her love for digital is one I share. But I fell in love with digital while wasting time on Twitter. Thiofhi fell in love with digital because she realised it was a step in to the future and, for her, the first step on building a successful career. It excites me that the internet creates these opportunities for girls like Thiofhi. It inspires me that ladies like Leigh give girls like Thiofhi the means to find these opportunities. It humbles me that Clarins Most Dynamic Women Awards and the brand in general has found ways to create opportunities to life up inspiring women around the world. We should all take heed from these lessons.

What did you do to uplift another woman today?


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