“Success is knowing my purpose in life, growing to my maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others.”  – John C Maxwell

Joy Banele Gemma Sibanyoni



Organisation / Company

Pawa Africa Pty Ltd


Joy Banele Gemma Sibanyoni, 32, made a number of choices in her life that went against the grain of her peers. It took courage to do so, and it was lonely at times, but in the end she learned how to overcome comparing herself with others. One choice she made must have seemed really crazy: she left working for a top multinational organisation and went to do community work in the small town of Mossel Bay. But then she believes that her purpose is to make a positive difference wherever she goes. Joy works as an operations and people executive director at Pawa Africa Pty Ltd, where she heads up All4Youth Sub-Saharan Africa, which assists in creating and implementing employability programmes, mentorship and training initiatives that equip the youth with workplace skills. Her work with the AFAWA FundHER project involves investing in women entrepreneurs in South Africa, providing financial tools and support for their small and medium-sized businesses. Joy says that more and more young people are starting up their own businesses. The future is exciting for her, as South African youth are no longer waiting for opportunities to come to them, but are pursuing ventures that support themselves and others.


BCom (Industrial Psychology), University of Johannesburg


Being selected as one of the 2020 YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) Entrepreneurship and Business Development Stream Participants was an achievement I am proud of. The programme, which was structured to be attended in person, had to be adjusted to an online cohort for the first time because of the pandemic. This presented various challenges as a significant part of the programme entailed active collaboration with participants from across the African region, on different schedules and with various connection limitations. Completing the programme was a great achievement ,because apart from being selected from thousands of applications, I learned how to work fully virtually, creatively and strategically with different people, and gained some long-lasting professional relationships that I greatly value. The skills gained through the experience also helped me in my business leadership.


Mostly my mother is my role model; she always taught me to be a person of integrity, to think of how to help others and not be self-serving, even if you don’t have a lot to give. Most importantly, to do your best in any situation: she always says: “There is nothing better than your best, and only you can determine your best.”