NRF Women’s Month 2022: Lindiwe Nkwe

NRF Women’s Month 2022: Lindiwe Nkwe

Women’s Month 2022 is celebrated under the theme of “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” and links to the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) of Gender Equality by 2030. The NRF is committed to supporting women in advancing their careers and establishing themselves as researchers, as well as supporting research aimed at uplifting women.

The NRF’s Compliance and Reporting SCM Manager based at Corporate Office in Pretoria, Lindiwe Nkwe, is well educated and ambitious. Her education has played a big role in her career and in helping her compete head-to-head with her male counterparts. In getting to where she is today, she has held a number of leadership positions in organisations such as the South African Revenue Services (SARS); South African National PARKS; the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services; and the National Treasury where she spent five years and acquired a lot of knowledge in her chosen field of Supply Chain Management (SCM).

While education remains an important factor in helping to empower women, achieving gender equality requires the consideration of many more factors. In this article, we learn more about Lindiwe, her journey, and ways in which she tries to address gender inequality in her own line of work.

Background

Lindiwe grew up in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, where she completed her primary and secondary school education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Psychology, Public Admin and Sociology from Vista University (Now the Mamelodi Campus of the University of Pretoria); a BA Honours in Public Administration, and an Advanced Programme in Sourcing and Supply Chain Management from UNISA.

In addition to this, she completed her MBA cum laude at Regent Business School for her dissertation entitled An Analysis of Preferential Procurement Regulations of 2011; a Short Learning Programme in Corporate Governance in Africa from the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (UNISA); and a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Procurement Policy and Regulations from the University of Stellenbosch.

What does Lindiwe’s role entail?

Lindiwe’s role at the NRF entails ensuring compliance in SCM rules, regulations and prescript. She is also responsible for statutory reporting internally and externally. While her main duties involve compliance and reporting, her extensive experience in SCM has seen her role expand to fully fledged end-to-end SCM.

In addition, Lindiwe is the Secretariat to the Bid Adjudication Committee (BAC) and also conducts training workshops for SCM practitioners across the organisation. One of her key duties at the moment includes being an Interim Project Leader overseeing SCM Transformation at the NRF with Motau Maloma; Lebogang Mosoma; with the support of the CFO, Mr Bishen Singh; the Head of SCM, Ron Grace; and the SCM Transformation Working Group which is Chaired by Mr Vincent Spannenberg, forming part of the main team that is responsible for the rollout of the new NRF SCM Transformation Framework.

“We have come a long way in terms of SCM Transformation at the NRF but there is still much to be done. We are currently sitting at Level 4 and the objective, as set by the NRF Board, is at least Level 2,” says Lindiwe. She further points out that achieving the ideal score requires an effort from everyone within an organisation and that this isn’t just an SCM responsibility.

Which parts of the NRF SCM specifically look at empowering women?

“We have developed what we call a Preferential Procurement Target Setting, which includes, among a host of other targets, that all preferential procurement be given to 30% Black women and businesses should be Black-owned. At the same time, one has to be realistic because there are markets where you find fewer women; the science and innovation space is one such where there aren’t many women let alone Black women to encourage transformation. In such cases, we try to include pre-qualification criteria for Black women, but these are informed by a thorough market analysis,” says Lindiwe.

One of the key focus areas for SCM at the NRF is making a difference in the public procurement space. This has led to the creation of a number of initiatives and ideas that will hopefully help to alleviate inherent challenges in SCM transformation. For instance, the team has been planning roadshow marketing to educate prospective bidders about commodities that are available at the NRF. Lindiwe believes that this is one of the ways in which the NRF can reach and attract more prospective bidders, including more women.

Lindiwe thinks there is more that can be done to try to close the gender gap when it comes to SCM. She says, “There is a lot we can do in this regard. One of the things that has been a concern for me is that there aren’t enough people exposed to and who know what the NRF does. The NRF is so much more than a postgraduate funding institution and we need to market this on a wider scale, including townships, to ensure we are engaging stakeholders beyond university students and researchers. When we get this right, we will allow opportunities to open up the pool of people that work with the NRF, potentially also increasing the number of women participants within the space whilst also reducing the unemployment rate, especially among the youth.

“We also must ask ourselves how we can advance women’s rights through public procurement. The NRF Preferential Procurement Policy should consider the advancement of women,” says Lindiwe. “As Rosa Parks said, Each person must live their life as a model for others.

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