Dr Snowy Khoza – crusader for gender empowerment

The Bigen Group, an innovative, solutions-focused infrastructure development group and influential contributor to socio-economic development across Africa, is leading the charge in infrastructure development inclusivity through prioritising women empowerment on all its projects. Already known for its proactive humanitarian stance, Bigen has under the visionary leadership of CEO, Dr Snowy Khoza, more deeply embedded its socio-economic development aspirations within its business strategy to maximise development impact in disadvantaged communities where Group projects are undertaken.

This approach is not only intended to help transform lives – particularly those of women, who bear the brunt of infrastructure deficits – but also to render Bigen more competitive, increase value for investors and stakeholders, and bring the Group closer to becoming one of the Top Five African firms by 2021.

A seasoned business executive, internationally acknowledged strategist and respected development activist with remarkable business acumen honed from more than 30 years of management and directorship experience, Dr Snowy Khoza is the Group Chief Executive Officer responsible for leveraging Bigen’s deep organisational knowledge about Africa and its challenges to spur development impact and inclusivity, with a focus on women and the youth.

A widely recognised change agent and independent thinker, her inspirational leadership over the past decade has entrenched Bigen’s positioning as one of Africa’s leading infrastructure development consultancies. Her keen strategic insight and astute business acumen supports a results-proven ability to optimise company outcomes without compromising quality or service standards and encourage teams to perform beyond expectation. Dr Khoza was instrumental in clinching more than 35 top industry awards for the Group and she ensures that Bigen’s infrastructure becomes a key driver for socio-economic development on the continent.

Internationally acclaimed as an astute business professional, inspiring business leader, independent thinker, role model and human rights activist, she is the recipient of numerous awards, including recognition by the London-based Women for Africa in 2017 as one of the most influential women on the African continent. In 2018, she received the SANLAM-sponsored Lifetime Achievement Award in Engineering from the South African Professional Services Association. Other awards include Continental Lifetime Achievers Award (Africa’s Most Influential Women), Unashamedly Ethical Leader Award, SA Top Performing Business Leader and several Gender Icon Awards.  The latest addition to her already impressive repertoire was being recognised for her extraordinary contribution to business and people development by being awarded the Excellent Leadership Recognition Award by the 67CEOs Foundation in 2020.


Pro-active socio-economic development

Having spent more than ten years with Bigen, Dr Khoza has gained an in-depth understanding of the Group’s strengths and aspirations as well as the complexities of Africa’s infrastructure development needs. A brilliant strategist, passionate business developer and humanitarian crusader, she has identified as key to Bigen’s growth its repositioning as a more attractive investment destination based on an enhanced capacity for infrastructure development and proactive socio-economic development policies. This enables it to contribute more robustly to the achievement of sustainable development goals in Africa, including women empowerment.

“We regard empowering women through economic inclusion, skills development, employment and procurement opportunities as a critical component of all our infrastructure”

This approach has been formalised in Bigen’s five-year Vision 2021 business strategy, and has also become ingrained in its corporate culture, encapsulated in the Group creed of “doing good while doing business”.

In this context, Dr Khoza spearheaded several key changes – the introduction of new strategies, policies and innovations – and strengthened the Group’s employee development policies. To inform the marketplace, Bigen relaunched its brand in 2018 to reflect its deeper focus on socio-economic impact and announced a wider portfolio of services geared to greater inclusivity and beneficiation, especially for women and youth in the communities where Bigen undertakes infrastructure development activities. To complement its trusted range of services in water, sanitation and real estate, the Group has expanded its core capabilities in transportation, energy, agriculture and health. The latter is intended to help address the pressing need for improved access to quality healthcare and facilities amongst the underprivileged.


Hope for the future

On every project, Bigen pursues empowerment opportunities for both the beneficiaries of the projects and those on the delivering side, particularly women. The project team conducts a consultative community assessment of opportunities for training and skills development, on-site job creation, local supplier and business development, and contribution to socio-economic infrastructure.

The Group’s inclusivity and gender empowerment focus means that delivering infrastructure development solutions such as in managing scarce water resources also impacts community health, safety and general well-being – areas of great importance to women and in which they can also play significant facilitating roles.

While Bigen’s project teams are highly service and quality focused, Dr Khoza also instils in them the importance of asking: how many jobs have we created? How many women have we empowered? How many communities have benefited from economic inclusion?

To quantify such outcomes, Bigen has developed the innovative ImpactPro mobile application, a robust electronic capturing platform which provides stats-at-a-glance.

For example, Bigen has recorded that the Thorntree View integrated development project in the City of Tshwane, just one of the Group’s many projects, has delivered on-the-job training, support to local suppliers and SMMEs, vibrant economic activity for women selling food to contractors and employment of 2 000 people.

This means that well before a project has been completed, Bigen infuses communities with hope for the future. To showcase the impacts of Bigen’s infrastructure development projects, Dr Khoza has also commissioned an annual Development Impact Report, of which the first issue was produced in 2017.

For Bigen, collaboration with other like-minded partners in infrastructure development supports the Group’s commitment to creating a legacy that is sustainable and empowering for the women of Africa. This is visible in the impact of well-planned and effectively executed infrastructure development encompassing improved healthcare, education, food security, sustainable enterprises and employment, gender equality and unhindered access to water and energy.


International acclaim

Bigen’s strong humanitarian focus combined with its insistence on quality and service excellence ensures that it annually receives prestigious industry and other awards. Under Dr Khoza’s leadership, the Group continues to receive highly respected accolades – Engineering Company of the Year in the SA Professional Services Awards, sponsored by Sanlam Life Insurance Limited, Top 5 Company in Consulting Engineering, Mining & Infrastructure Sector, Top five Gender Empowerment Engineering Company,  V2030 Infrastructure Development Company of the Year Award, Topco Media 2019 National Business of the Year Award,  and Best Managed Company 2019 in the Consulting Engineers sector of the 2019 Top 500: South Africa’s Best Managed Companies listings.

Bigen has also received several awards for its employee mentorship programme over the years and Dr Khoza has augmented the targeted human capital development strategy in place by introducing several Leadership programmes. The outcomes include increased female representation in business, especially in top management, with the Group itself having appointed women in several key positions.

Bigen’s focus on translational leadership and leadership development, Dr Khoza maintains, is not only empowering future business leaders but is also spearheading gender empowerment with a meaningful and lasting impact on women, the backbone of society.

In line with its creed of “doing good while doing business”, Bigen has long been enthusiastically involved in corporate social investment activities. To complement these mostly branch-based efforts, Dr Khoza initiated an annual group-wide fundraiser which has so far collected several million rand for non-profit organisations, including the training organisation PopUp which empowers women, men and youth through occupational training.

Under her leadership she has ensured that the delivery of infrastructure projects on the continent where Bigen works, are delivered with high quality standards, on budget and on time. Her focus on “doing good while doing business” has given Bigen recognition as a social enterprise that gives back to communities. As the Group CEO, Dr Khoza leverages the knowledge of the Group to support governments to deliver basic services to communities, also ensuring job creation, entrepreneur and enterprise development focusing more on women and youth. Dr Khoza is a respected benefactor to the disadvantaged and has been a community caregiver and organiser for more than 35 years. Her dedication to creating sustainable support systems for people at risk in marginalised communities serves as a role model for many across the continent.

Dr Khoza currently chairs the boards of ETION Ltd, SNOKHO Investments, and Ka-Manowi Manor Pty Ltd. She sits on the Advisory Boards of the University of Pretoria- Water Institute, and Ubank Group as independent non-executive director chairing its Human Capital and RemCo. She is also the President of a not-for-profit organisation, Agape Christian Women’s Network (ACWN International).