Catherine Wijnberg : CEO of Fetola

Catherine Wijnberg : CEO of Fetola

Written on 09/20/2019
Thriving Network

Meet our Top 50 Thriving Female Founder for 2019 Edition

Fetola was started in 2006 by Catherine Wijnberg, a successful entrepreneur with experience in starting, growing and operating businesses in five different sectors across three countries. She was determined that one woman could make a difference and empower other women to do so, too.

Her vision is to contribute to the transformation of the South African economy by growing the small business sector, for it is here that jobs are created, success is cultivated, and women, youth, and rural communities can create self-empowered futures.

Fetola has grown rapidly, from a small consultancy into a recognised SME specialist in Cape Town with a national reach. The staff complement has grown to more than 30, mostly women, employees. Catherine leads the team with inimitable passion and her message is clear: anything is possible if you put your mind to it and work hard. The company endeavours to set the standards for others to follow and create long-term partnerships with clients and other businesses.

Catherine is a visionary entrepreneur and respected by many. She did not achieve success by waiting for things to happen; instead she worked hard, lost a great deal, and recovered substantially from incredible setbacks. She has taken these experiences and used it to help businesses become sustainable, create jobs and grow the economy.

Catherine was featured on an episode of SABC 2’s show Back from Zero in 2018. In the episode, she was candid about her business failures and the devastating impact it had on her family. But giving up was never an option. She knew she had to fight to survive, not only for her own sake, but for her three young daughters as well.

Fetola's programmes achieve unmatched results. Legends (which was developed for Old Mutual as their flagship ED initiative from 2007 – 2013) delivered a 94% long-term business survival rate and 65% year-on-year growth per participant. The Tholoana Programme, a national initiative run for the SAB Foundation currently delivers growth rates of 44% per annum. These results are significantly higher than leading competitors (April 2018).

Fetola has prioritised developing women-owned businesses and more than 50% of the businesses on the Legends and Tholoana programmes were owned by women.

Fetola's clients and partners include SAB Foundation, JP Morgan, Transnet, The Jobs Fund, the European Union, Old Mutual, and World Wide Fund for Nature.

In 2019 Catherine will be implementing a women/girl-child support programme designed to harness the talents and inspirational stories of the women who work in Fetola and the female entrepreneurs that Fetola has supported over the years.