Fayruz Mohamed, 49, is the national chairperson of the South African National Zakah Fund (Sanzaf), a faith-based, socio-welfare and educational organisation that provides relief aid to the most needy countrywide. She has led the nonprofit to a high standard of delivery through her motivational and all-embracing management style, with a particular focus on women.
This year Sanzaf disbursed R178 million — welfare relief to 29 000 families; 4 152 students benefited from R26 million for education, and R14.5 million in bursaries; and meals reached 380 000 people a month (4.5 million meals a year).
Despite her humble beginnings on the Cape Flats, Fayruz qualified as a chartered accountant, completing her articles at one of the Big Four firms before becoming an associate director. She also completed a directorship programme at the Institute of Directors South Africa and now serves as a non-executive director and independent audit committee member. She is also internationally qualified in Zakat management and Islamic finance.
Remembering her humble beginnings in Mitchells Plain, she volunteered at Sanzaf for almost two decades before becoming its national chairperson.
Fayruz’s work has been widely recognised; she has received the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants Chairman’s Difference Maker Award for the sustainable development goals and sustainability category and the WOMANi Influencer of the Year 2022 award conferred by Cambridge IFA (UK).
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Do not let anyone take your power. People will continue to do what you allow. You have to set boundaries that will ensure your happiness and overall well-being.
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
My continuous growth mind-set motivates me to continuously learn and acquire skills in all industries I serve so that I may do so with excellence. I encourage other women to do the same. I ensure that their work environment is conducive for them to empower themselves and excel in their professional and personal lives, through the organisational policies I influence, which includes enhancing our sexual harassment policy. I encourage them to surround themselves with people who motivate, inspire and empower them. I mentor women in and outside Sanzaf.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
It is to build a society free of gender oppression where women have equal opportunity and are not discriminated against in the work space and to empower them to become self-sufficient and active participants in the economy.