Vanessa Perumal, a Cancer Survivor with an Artificial Voice, Showcases Resilience as Spokesperson at Presidential Meeting Ahead of Freedom Day Celebrations

Author: JT Comms
Date: 3 May 2023

Vanessa Perumal, a South African entrepreneur and the founder of JT Communication Solutions, recently had the honour of representing the recipients of the Inaugural National Presidential SMME Awards, JT Communication Solutions won in the category of Best SMME Owned by Persons with Disabilities. She was invited to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams along with the other winners of the National Presidential Inaugural Awards, at the Union Buildings.

This meeting recognized the outstanding achievements of small and medium-sized businesses and cooperatives in South Africa and highlighted the importance of empowering entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. Perumal’s selection as a representative not only showcases her entrepreneurial success, but also emphasizes the critical role that individuals with disabilities can play in driving economic growth and development.

Despite being a Cancer and Total Laryngectomy survivor and unable to speak without her voice prosthesis, Perumal expressed that her representation of the collective voices highlights the significant progress made by Black South Africans since the fight against apartheid ended, which enabled them to speak freely and aim to achieve their aspirations.

Perumal's tribute to the 29th Freedom Day is a testament to the transformative power of democracy in South Africa. Perumal, who lost her voice to a rare form of cancer and underwent a total laryngectomy, is a role model for cancer survivors and entrepreneurs alike. She spoke about the challenges faced by SMMEs in South Africa, including access to markets and the difficulties posed by monopolies.

Despite the challenges, Perumal and her team at JT Communication Solutions have continued to innovate and pivot in response to changing market conditions. They have embraced digital disruption and created new revenue streams, promoting youth employment in the process.

Perumal's story is an inspiration for all those who face adversity and seek to overcome it through resilience and determination. Her message of hope and entrepreneurship is a reminder that even in the toughest of times, there are opportunities to be found and new pathways to success.

During her presentation at the presidential meeting, Vanessa Perumal emphasized the importance of inclusivity and collaboration in driving economic growth and transformation. She highlighted the achievements of the winners of the National Presidential Awards, who were recognized for their innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. Despite facing numerous challenges, these entrepreneurs demonstrated resilience and determination in pursuing their goals. Perumal’s message of empowerment and collaboration resonated with the audience, and her call to action has inspired many to take an active role in shaping the future of the South African economy.

As Perumal noted in her remarks to President Ramaphosa, "Entrepreneurship is a key driver to solve so much of our problems in our country and to fight to achieve economic transformation, and we are honoured to be recognized for our contribution in growing the ecosystem for entrepreneurs and showcasing a more positive and accurate narrative of the possibilities of aligning synergized networks."

The National Presidential SMME Awards were established by the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and its agencies, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), and in partnership with the European Union and 22 On Sloane. The awards recognize the achievements of small businesses in South Africa and promote entrepreneurship as a driver of economic growth and social change.

Vanessa Perumal's leadership in championing the importance of changing the African narrative and positioning African voices and stories on a global stage is commendable. Her self-funding of the African Media Resource Centre in 2009 as a gateway to resource African media and promote positive African content is a testament to her commitment to the cause. She also co-founded ECAfrica, a pipeline created to use technology to amplify African entrepreneurship. As the South Africa co-partner of Pan African Venture Capital Impact Hub Adanian Labs, Perumal continues to drive social impact and support African innovation through investment and mentorship.

In addition to her work with various initiatives, Perumal’s focus on using digital media to promote positive African content and drive social impact is noteworthy. Her recent invitation by Afya Rekod, a Pan African health tech disruptor, to be a brand ambassador is a testament to her thought leadership and influence in the African tech industry.

Perumal’s leadership in driving social impact and promoting positive African content through her agency and various initiatives, including representing the first-ever cohort of the National Presidential Awards as their spokesperson to speak and address the President of the Republic of SA on 18th April, is highly commendable. We look forward to seeing her continue to make a positive impact in the world.

Vanessa Perumal is not only a cancer survivor and media strategist but also a passionate collaborator and ecosystem partner. Through her expertise in media strategy, she has supported a wide range of initiatives and organizations, including the World Health Organization's Safe Hands Activation during the pandemic. She has also provided PR and comms activations for notable projects such as Nelson Mandela's funeral celebration by SA artists, Fees Must Fall, and Bring Back Our Girls.

Perumal shares some of her entrepreneurial learnings:

  • Resilience and determination are essential traits in overcoming adversity and achieving success.
  • Be bold to stand up to lead when you have the skill to support the change you want to see implemented.
  • Entrepreneurship is a powerful tool for economic growth and social change, and should be supported and promoted with authenticity, intention, and purpose.
  • Collaboration and inclusivity are key to driving economic growth and transformation.
  • By working together, we can achieve more than by working alone.

For media enquiries or interview requests contact media@jtcomms.co.za or 011 788 7632

Note to Editor

Category Winners:

Township SMME - Eitaradio

Startup SMME of the year - Lotsha Onaka

Homegrown SMME – Product: Borotho Bakery Enterprise

Homegrown SMME – Service: MM Electro Mech Service

Social Enterprise - Memeza Shout

Rural-based SMME - Kevinot Farming

SMMEs Owned by Persons with Disabilities - JT Communication Solutions

Fintech - Bizcash

Ecosystem Enabler - SiMODiSA

Business Development Services Provider - South African All Brothers Product Certification Body

Women-Led SMME - Ditsogo Engineering

Breaking Ground SMME - Browns Food

Pitch for Funding Winners:

Namhla Collection – Namhla Dotwana

All Day Jam – Gontse Selaocoe

Hydra Power – Sameer Khan

Boroto Bakery – Refiloe Rantekoa

Molo Health – Nthoneng Dinaala

Partners & Sponsors of the Awards:

The Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and its agencies, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) hosted the Inaugural National Presidential SMME and Co-operatives Awards.

The awards served as a platform to launch the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) and were hosted in partnership with the Ecosystem Development for Small Enterprises (EDSE), the European Union (EU), Huawei, Google, Telkom and 22 On Sloane.

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