Wendy Ackerman has been awarded the Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2021 Forbes Best of Africa Awards ceremony which took place late yesterday evening, Friday, 6 August 2021.
Mrs Ackerman was celebrated alongside other prominent personalities for their contribution and influence on the business, political, leadership and economic landscape of Africa.
The awards come after an intensive search and research to find the best candidates for the prestigious awards hosted and presented by Forbes President of Customs Solutions, Mark Furlong.
The Forbes Best of Africa Award is presented annually in New York City during the Best of Africa event and the United Nations General Award meetings to highlight business personalities with a record of creating and building global business that have far-reaching and positive contributions to the development of Africa.
About Wendy Ackerman
Wendy Ackerman was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and schooled at the University of Witwatersrand.
She joined her husband, Raymond, at Pick n Pay when he acquired the company in 1967, and was the first woman director of a retail chain in South Africa. Her focus at the company was on the Group’s overall development, with particular responsibility for employee benefits and welfare.
She retired from the Board in 2010, but remains involved in the business as Honorary Life President.
Wendy was instrumental in developing the Pick n Pay brand, particularly its social responsibility ethic, helping to embed Pick n Pay’s core value of “doing good is good business” into the company’s value system.
Today, much of Wendy’s time is devoted to her family’s philanthropic endeavours and her work for the underprivileged and vulnerable in South Africa.
Wendy and Raymond played an important role in resisting apartheid-era legislation by among other things, promoting all staff, and through arranging housing for black employees.
Her work to empower and promote women has been a hallmark of her efforts at Pick n Pay. She was instrumental in getting women recognised as senior, career-oriented employees in the 1970s, seen at the time to have been too progressive for some companies.
She continues to fight for women’s rights today, notably through her involvement in and support for the 1000 Women Trust, which she helped form after being introduced to the concept in the US.
In the 1970s, the Ackerman family established their first philanthropic venture, the Ackerman Family Educational Trust. In 1997, Raymond and Wendy Ackerman celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the founding of Pick n Pay by creating the Ackerman Pick n Pay Foundation, which was established as a corporate foundation, with substantial financial investment set aside to create a fund for philanthropic purposes.
Wendy is also involved in helping the disabled. Together with Rotary, she helped establish a special school and job creation centre for autistic children in Cape Town’s townships.
Wendy’s greatest passion is the support she gives to promising students, particularly music students. She has run bursary schemes since 1973 and her graduates have achieved outstanding success, some performing at the finest orchestras and opera houses throughout the world.
She is a long-time supporter of the arts, and has put enormous effort into creating an endowment for the arts in Cape Town, specifically for the city’s opera and orchestra. With significant funds raised so far for the Duet Endowment Trust, her involvement illustrates the leverage that philanthropy can bring to provide for the long-term sustainability of key cultural endeavours. World-renowned soprano Pretty Yende is a patron of the Trust.
Wendy is also very involved in environmental issues and has been recognised by the SA Nature Foundation for outstanding achievement.
Wendy received the All Africa Philanthropist of the Year for 2015 at the All Africa Business Leaders Awards.