CA Shilpa Mehta first female president of the Entrepreneurs' Organisation Durban Chapter

Shilpa says women shouldn't shy away from leadership, especially during tough economic times.

CA Shilpa Mehta has been elected the first female president of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Durban Chapter (EO) and owner of electronic manufacturing service provider, Production Logix

“Women shouldn’t shy away from leadership, especially during tough economic times such as these,” Shilpa says. 

Shilpa takes over from Remax franchise owner Grant Gavin at a time when businesses in South Africa are struggling to cope with losses incurred during the Covid-19 lockdown and delays in the gradual re-opening of an already weak economy.

“A Covid-19 recovery and embracing diversity are tough challenges for everyone,” she says. “Whilst I am a woman, I have had the same challenges as other business owners.”

She adds that entrepreneurs are carrying the load to ensure their businesses, staff and family are all safe and learn to respect diversity while at the same time ensuring they have a business that adapts in the current crisis. “Although we will be the ones to make a difference, this places a huge weight on an employer’s shoulders.” 

What has helped for Shilpa is her EO network and forum. “Together we have navigated this crisis as best possible, knowing our decision-making sound and rational rather than emotional and based on sound business principles rather than fear. We have leaned into the network to share the numerous challenges and also many opportunities which have certainly helped.” 

Although many of the challenges which entrepreneurs are now navigating have not been experienced in the world of business before or been addressed as priorities, Shilpa is confident that business leaders will be stronger as they stand together – an opinion that is echoed by outgoing Grant. 

“Entrepreneurship is lonely, and especially so during times like these. When there is no playbook or set of instructions to follow on how to make it through a global pandemic, the ability to learn from the experiences of entrepreneurs who are facing similar challenges becomes hugely valuable. In my experience as a leader during the lockdown, the ability to nurture, protect and build relationships amidst all the chaos has been key. Relationships and empathy are massive characteristic strengths of women and, as such, a major reason why women entrepreneurs are well equipped to stand tall during these times,” he points out. 

Shilpa sees one of her key roles as president as growing EO’s Durban chapter, especially when it comes to adding more women entrepreneurs to the mix.

“My biggest goal is to ensure the EO Durban chapter remains stable and healthy during this time and it continues to be a platform for our members to learn and grow and be an invaluable resource for our members. We would also like to continue to grow the organisation's membership base and create a platform for entrepreneurs to lean in during this difficult time. EO Durban chapter, is in a strong, healthy and well-run organisation and I would like to leave it stronger and cement its position it as the leading organisations in South Africa for entrepreneurs to learn and grow,” she says.

Grant adds that Shilpa’s decision to stand as the EO Durban Chapter's first female president is hugely positive at a time when strong female leaders and entrepreneurs are needed. “Our Durban chapter is recognised as a leader in the global EO network, and I know that Shilpa is going to take us to new levels of success."