Consumer specialist Ina Wilken (72) receives master’s degree

Posted on September 10, 2018

Ms Ina Wilken (72), a consumer specialist and advisor, received a master’s degree in Consumer Sciences from the University of Pretoria this week, under the supervision of Dr Suné Donoghue and co-supervision of Prof Johan Kirsten.

Ms Wilken is committed to uplifting consumers and advocating for their rights and dedicates many hours to this noble cause. She has been closely involved with the South African National Consumer Union since 1996, and was the chairperson for two full terms – 1998-2001, 2005-2008, and also during 2016-2017.  She was vice-chairperson of the National Consumer Forum in 2010. Her involvement in consumerism started at the SA National Consumer Council (1989-1996), where she left as director when the Department of Trade and Industry shut it down. 

“Assisting consumers and being their spokesperson for many years has become a passion,” she says. “There are far too many people who do not know their rights as consumers and are also unaware of their responsibilities. The opportunity to further my studies in this direction dawned on me when I stepped down from my day to day work at the office and started working from home.”

“The aim of my study was to make consumers aware of the importance of a label on a product and how vital it is to understand what the wording implies,” she says. “This was a long, wonderful, insightful journey which, should I turn the clock back, I would do again against all odds. This degree made me realise that there is so much more to learn, and that we should never stop learning and never stop living our lives in full. All this is due to the Grace of God.” 

Ms Wilken did both her B.Com and B.Com honours (Business Economics) degrees at UNISA.  She was on the executive of Finbond Mutual Bank from 2003 to 2013, and still serves as a non-executive director. She often acts as keynote speaker at functions, workshops and seminars. In 2007 she was invited to address the annual congress of Consumers International in Sydney, Australia, as keynote speaker. She was named the DTI’s Individual Consumer Champion in 2005, and was the runner-up for the same award in 2007. In 2011 she was honoured with the South African Women’s Agricultural Union (SAWAU) charter as patron of the 80-year-old body.

She has served on many other South African bodies, including:

  • Pretoria Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Vice-President)
  • Banking Ombudsman (Vice chairperson)
  • SABS Consumer Sector Board (Chairperson)
  • Debt Collectors Council (Vice chairperson)
  • Cotton Boards of South Africa (Director)
  • Agricultural Produce Agents Council (Director)



- Author Department of University Relations

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