mel-gardWSI Durban is very pleased to announce that one of our Directors, Mel Gard, has been voted as a finalist in the 2016 Business Woman’s Association Durban Branch’s Regional Business Achiever’s Awards in the Entrepreneur Category.

The Regional Business Achievers Awards (RBAA) are a set of annual events aimed at celebrating the success of women in each BWA branch. The awards actively seek to identify, acknowledge and cultivate entrepreneurs, corporate and professional women leaders in the various regions. Mel was nominated by Gonda Swanevelder (what’s cooler than being nominated by an employee?) and fulfilled all of the criteria. After submitted her Portfolio of Evidence and having an interview with a panel of 3 judges, she has been chosen as one of the three finalists for the award in her category. The criteria she has to fulfil were:

  • Be a women
  • Have no matter of material concern, such as financial results still to be released, labour matters before the CCMA or any other similar body, or any other issue that the judging panel should be aware of.
  • Be a role model and be seen to be actively making a difference within the company / corporation and community.
  • Espouse and able to be a value ambassador of everything the BWA stands for.
  • Be a South African resident or citizen, where business is based in the geographic region of the Durban branch.
  • Be compliant with BBBEE codes of good practice
  • Need to be a minimum of 26% shareholder in the company that they are operationally involved in for a minimum of 3 years in a managerial capacity.Only one shareholder from the organisation may be nominated in same fiscal year.
  • Need to verify that the business is achieving a minimum of breakeven or profit.
  • This includes franchises, micro and small enterprises

The winners of all 6 categories will be announced at a gala dinner on 29th July, so Mel will have to sweat it out until then.

Mel graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand with a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours in 2002. She then went on to co-own La Strada Ristorante in Northriding Johannesburg together with her husband, Nick.

In 2004, they moved to Durban to help Nick’s parents manage their new acquisition, Crinkley Bottom Park (a wedding and conference venue, B&B). In March 2006, they launched La Strada Ristorante Hillcrest, a successful family Italian restaurant. They sold this in 2009 to launch their WSI Franchise.

Mel became a Certified WSI Internet Marketing Consultant in July 2009. She attended the WSI Excellence and Innovation Conference in Miami, Florida in 2010 and received her Advanced Internet Marketing Certification for 2011 at that event. She is Google Adwords and Analytics Certified. In 2015, they moved the business from their home to offices in Abrey Eco Park in Kloof.

These years of successful (and unsuccessful) business ownership have given Mel fundamental skills in entrepreneurship, business management, project management and customer service.

Mel is a regular speaker at events for networking groups and Chambers of Commerce and has been invited to be a speaker at Durban Chamber of Commerce, Zululand Chamber of Commerce and SEDA. She has been on the Committee of KZN Women in Business since 2010 and was elected as Chairperson of the organisation for the 2016-2017 term.

Nick & Mel have two beautiful children. With so many commitments, she doesn’t really have a lot of free time, but she tries to stay fit with regular Zumba classes and enjoys reading and mosaicking in her limited spare time.