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Colleen Larsen (CE)

Colleen Larsen (CE) is one of the leading voices for the sustainable advancement of women in the corporate and entrepreneurial space in South Africa today.

She was the first chairperson of the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network Ltd., an initiative of the Department of Trade & Industry to support women owned SMMEs and was instrumental in the establishment of the SAWEN national strategy, organisation and the constitution.

She is, through Business Engage, the founder of the Gender Mainstreaming Awards (www.genderawards.co.za), currently in its second year. The awards seek to encourage the private sector to buy-in to achieving more meaningful representation of women in the mainstream of business.

In addition she is the President of the 30% Club Southern Africa, a global organisation of chairmen and other senior business leaders publicly committed to achieving 30% women on boards together with the associated pipeline within a default period of five years. The 30% Club includes high profile companies like Anglo American, Old Mutual, Bloomburg, PwC and Goldman Sachs to name but a few. (www.30percentclub.org.za)


She has represented BUSA at Nedlac in negotiating the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill and was a representative on the steering committee for the International Labour Organisation Programme on Gender.

With regards to the International Labour Organisation, she is one of only eleven ILO cadre in South Africa accredited as an expert in women entrepreneurship development and one of only two private sector representatives accredited by the ILO to carry out internationally researched gender reviews. It being noted that Business Engage has, under Colleen’s guidance and the authority of the ILO, adapted the gender reviews in order that they may be applied specifically in the South African private sector.

Colleen has previously headed 85 Broads Southern Africa – a multi-cultural, multi-generational international network of over 28 000 trailblazing, visionary women and was a founding member of New Faces New Voices – a group established by Mrs Graça Machel to uplift women in the financial services industry & facilitate access to finance for women.

Colleen is a prolific networker, organiser and visionary.