Arts organisation built on women’s legacy

Sne Mdiya

For Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), every day is Women’s Day. Head of marketing and communications, Savannah Feeke-Fortune, says the organisation has been built on the shoulders of influential women, spanning more than two decades.

  Feeke-Fortune explains that BASA’s founding chairperson in 1997 was Mary Oppenheimer-Slack. 

  “Its first CEO was Nicola Danby, who served for 10 years; succeeded by Michelle Constant, who served for the next 10 years. Current chairperson Charmaine Soobramoney is the first woman of colour in the position. Deputy chairperson Mandie van der Spuy is also a woman. In addition, more than 80% of staff complement and service providers are female,” Feeke-Fortune says.

  She adds that a partnership has been brokered with BASA member Mamakashaka, with one of her properties, Bloom, a platform that celebrates and empowers creative women. 

  “In celebration of Women’s Month, Bloom and BASA will produce Season 2 of My First Mile; online content series focused on business owners, featuring female founders and leaders whose businesses are in their first 10 years,” says Feeke-Fortune.

  Mamakashaka is a creative agency based in Johannesburg, which creates meaningful experiences and content for individuals, brands and communities within arts, culture and lifestyle spaces. The series will see female founders asked the same questions, to allow the audience to draw parallels among those featured, to gain appreciation of how success can follow many paths. 

  The project will focus on the creative sector, and also include a webinar event on 31 August. BASA’s #HeyFriend social media campaign adopts a female focus in August, profiling a range of women in powerful positions.

  Mamakashaka CEO Nandi Dlepu says: “I am a strong believer in the power of storytelling. When we celebrate and tell the stories of successful female leaders, it inspires and gives permission to the aspirant.” 

  Join the conversation by tagging @bloomorg and BASA with the hashtag #HeyFriend. For more visit

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