Dawn Nathan-Jones, Social Entrepreneur and Professional Speaker

As an advocate for women empowerment and equality, Dawn believes this competition is the perfect platform to give the women of South Africa opportunities, recognition and encouragement.

‘Challenges are opportunities that life gives us so we can become the best version of ourselves. They release the greatness, hope and power that lie in all of us,’ says this social entrepreneur, multiple-award-winning business leader and professional speaker. Dawn’s legacy lies in her role as one of the early pioneers of the Imperial Car Rental company, now known as Europcar. She spent over three decades building this car rental business with her two colleagues. At the end of her illustrious career as CEO, she stepped down and, in 2016, launched into reality TV with her role as the only female Shark in the M-Net reality show Shark Tank South Africa.

Dawn’s trajectory has taken a more holistic and intentional direction that focuses on sharing her 35-year leadership and entrepreneurial journey to help the youth become more entrepreneurially minded. She started GroWealth in 2016 after identifying opportunities to fast-track small businesses in South Africa. In 2017, she joined Lesley Waterkeyn of Over the Rainbow, a social enterprise that strengthens the entrepreneurship ecosystems by providing start-ups and business owners with training, networking opportunities, mentorship and resources to enhance their success and sustainability.

Dawn’s passion for female development stems not only from her role as a successful businesswoman but also from her ability to understand the difficulties women face in business. She values trust and authenticity as essential leadership qualities, which she believes is the cornerstone of upholding outstanding business ethics.

‘During the pandemic many entrepreneurs continued to hustle hard and used it as a catalyst and opportunity to transform their businesses from the present to the ‘new’ future. Entrepreneurs by nature are optimistic and build nimble businesses to adapt quickly to change and are constantly seeking new ideas. This innovation is what will help alleviate the unemployment crisis we now face,’ Dawn says.

In the middle of 2020, during lockdown, Dawn and her two partners wrote a book titled Hope Stories, a collection of short stories about the courage of 27 people who found innovative ways to pivot and transform their businesses during these unprecedented times.

In 2020 she was appointed to the board of the One South Africa Movement, led by Mmusi Maimane, to help create a society of equality and economic prosperity.

WHAT DAWN WILL BE LOOKING FOR: ‘I am looking for businesswomen who have demonstrated adaptability in the face of fragility, hope in times of fear and resilience over adversity. I will take note of women who are forward-thinking and have been able to successfully lead people through times of uncertainty.’