November 24, 2017

Leading like a woman in a man’s world


Those that coined the statement “necessity is the mother of invention” must have had Farana Boodhram in mind.

While working underground as the founder and director of Avita Mining, a company headquartered in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, Boodhram realised that she did not feel comfortable in the garment which was apparently tailored specifically for men. Then, this drove her to create a garment for women who work in underground mining conditions.

43 year old Boodhram has been credited for designing and patenting a “world-first” safety garment that women can wear underground.

Boodhram is active beyond mining. She is also a director of Talmin Logistics, a firm that is making its mark in the transport and logistics sector.

What has made Boodhram succeed is that she has not compromised her values as a woman to succeed. Effortlessly, she can switch from wearing high heels in the boardroom to a hard hat underground.

At home she play the role of a mother and wife. Her family comes first, she declares. “My family are my first priority. I will drop anything in a heartbeat for them. For me, there was never a choice between my family and having a career. I am of the belief that if you keep your ethics and morals right, everything else falls into place.”

Beyond her business interest, Boordhram contributes to community development by employing and training people from underprivileged communities in the mining belt of Mpumalanga.

Boordhram’s success is due to her knack of spotting opportunities where others see challenges and capitalising on them – a firm belief in turning ideas into reality.

After 11 years of experience in corporate banking, Boordhram’s stepping stone into business was supplying baby goods and products to businesses and individuals in the Mpumalanga area.

Later, when a local mine withdrew transport allowance for its employees, she saw a gap of providing a transport service to help personnel get to their workplace efficiently and affordably. The company rapidly expanded when it won a contract for the transportation of coal to various Eskom power stations.

August is Woman’s Month in South Africa.  And Boodhram personifies the strides which women in the country have made in mining and transport – domains still regarded as decidedly male-dominated.

In recognition of her industry, focus and vision, Farana Boodhram was selected for a prestigious Vital Voices Leadership fellowship by the International Vital Voices development Agency last month. She is one of only 60 women in the world to be awarded a prestigious VV Grow Fellowship earlier this year.

Vital Voices is a global NGO founded by US presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, with a mission to “invest in women who are changing the world.” The Grow Fellowship, now in its fourth year, works like a business accelerator for women entrepreneurs – particularly small and medium business owners working in emerging markets.

To broaden her horizons in leadership as far as possible, Boodhram has just completed an Executive MBA at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB).

Adapted for African Mining Brief from a press released issued by University of Cape Town School of Business

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