Blessers, the concept of wealthy men offering younger women a range of gifts in exchange for their affection is back in the spotlight.
South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa condemns what he believes to be a political witch-hunt to derail his hopes of leading the ANC following the revelation of his alleged “blessing” of a number of young women last Sunday.
In a strange twist, he has admitted having an affair nearly a decade back, albeit not with a young woman, and hence has categorically denied being a blesser.
In a statement addressing the matter, Ramaphosa says: “I am not a blesser. My wife and I support 54 young people every month, 30 females and 24 males.
“We are transforming people’s lives.”
Whether the deputy president is a blesser or not is besides the point of this article.
As we transition fully out of the euphoria of South Africa’s Women’s Month, it is worth documenting that one of the pressing needs of women getting ahead is financial freedom or the ability to pursue their goals and dreams without needing a man to bless their way.
Blessing became a phenomenon in South Africa largely as a result of social media and particularly Instagram. Young women who were often students would post travel and material gain with the hashtag #Blessed.
Friends of the young women began to question their ability to fund their own blessings, claiming their older male friends were in fact the source. Soon, the concept spread under new branding from the old framing of sugar daddy, which is of course a global concept of wealthy men preying on vulnerable young women who have large hopes but small bank accounts.
Despite the concept’s popularity, many young women prefer taking the long view and go through the natural evolution of studying and sacrifice to position themselves to be financially independent.
One such woman is 25-year-old financial wellness guru Nelisiwe Masango.
Her disdain for this social trap has inspired her to teach women how to liberate themselves from lurking blessers. As the founder of Bear Run Investment, a financial wellness firm, she hopes to inspire young women to make smart savings and investment solutions in order to make liberated financial decisions.
As a young woman from humble beginnings, Masango wanted to pursue higher education but her parents couldn’t afford to fund her. She’s highly empathetic to women who fall into the blesser trap.
One of the products that Bear Run Investment has launched is FeFine, Females with Finance, an events and knowledge-based model where women gather to share and exchange financial trends and insights.
Masango believes there are three ways women can make Women’s Month extend beyond August.
1. Open up: women should open up more and share their realities with each other rather than appearing perfect. She believes more transparency will translate to more openness.
2. Formation sisterhood: the same way men have old boys clubs, women should form communities and clubs that serve more than gossip, fashion and children swopping. While she understands the desire to discuss social issues, incorporating financial strategies should be as natural.
3. Money tips on social media, which is a powerful platform that allows for far more than selfies and she believes financial tips and trends should also be trending.
She’s keenly aware that salaciousness sells more than the rigour or financial responsibility but this is her mission - making financial wellness cool.
Fresh off winning a social-impact award from the global think tank Frost & Sullivan, an organisation seeking to drive social change, for her inspiring work transforming the economic minds of young people, Masango wants to ensure the financial priorities elevated in Women’s Month become a priority all year.
She said winning the award was “a symbol of hard work”.
“It’s an amazing step in the right direction paved with the possibility of impacting more young women’s and men’s lives across Africa,” Masango insisted.
Like birthdays, I feel setting aside a month to discuss the priorities of previously disenfranchised communities and celebrating their progress is vital.
And I agree with Masango that it’s critical that this worth of positioning women to bless themselves is worthy of year-round attention.