The latest exciting leg of the Lioness Lean In Breakfast event tour this month headed to the warm shores of Durban, South Africa on 8 June, and what a great event it was. Some of the most inspirational women entrepreneurs from the city took to the stage at host venue Mancosa to share their highly personal entrepreneurial journeys, experiences and startup stories.
The Lioness Lean In Breakfast events are proving to be a huge hit with women entrepreneurs who come from across the country to listen to other successful women business brand builders share their stories, to inspire one another, and to network and connect for business success. This latest event attracted around 50 leading women entrepreneurs from around the city, representing a vast range of businesses in different industry sectors, from legal services to construction, and communications to transportation and logistics. On arrival, the attendees immediately got on with the business of the morning, enjoying breakfast created by the banqueting team at Mancosa, and of course, networking - lots of it!
The main order of the morning was providing a powerful platform for some of Durban’s leading women entrepreneurs to share their personal entrepreneurial journeys with the audience, sharing not just the successes but also the challenges faced. What became quickly evident as the session started was an indomitable spirit running through the city’s women entrepreneurs, and a ‘never give up’ attitude, no matter how big the hurdles or challenges experienced along the journey. The morning’s programme was launched by Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, who got the event under way in true style with an introduction to the inspiration behind the creation of Lionesses of Africa and its vision for the future in terms of supporting Africa’s women entrepreneurs. Next to the podium was the first of the guest speakers, the truly inspirational Indrani Govender, founder of Ricinz Construction, a company with a unique startup story. Indrani shared her highly personal and emotional journey to becoming an entrepreneur and the founder of what is today a highly successful construction company. Following a lifetime of challenges that would have stopped most people in their tracks, including a terrifying armed robbery inflicted against Indrani and her family, Indrani built from scratch a construction company that today not only builds houses and other buildings, but also gives a second chance in life to previous convicts looking to rehabilitate themselves. Indrani’s story is not only testimony to the power of the human spirit to overcome life’s challenges, but also the power of the entrepreneurial spirit to make positive change happen. Her speech touched the women in the audience who could relate to so many of Indrani’s life and business experiences.
Next up to the speaker podium was an entrepreneur of a very different kind, a highly talented and unique creative fine artist and designer turned entrepreneurial brand builder. Victoria Verbaan, founder of the memorable company brand name Victoria Verbaan and the Smoking Daxi, turns her beautiful drawings and paintings into works of art of a different kind. Her handpainted panama hats, bags, printed scarves, hand-decorated tableware and homeware items are things of beauty and collectables in their own right. She is winning fans at home and abroad for her truly unique designs, artistic eye, and creative sensibility that results in highly desirable artworks and products. Victoria shared her journey from fine artist to entrepreneur, and gave an honest insight into how she has built her company and brand by harnessing her considerable creative talent and passion, which has kept her going through the tough times. Today, she is proving an inspiration to all those who are determined to realise their entrepreneurial dreams, no matter how many hurdles they face along the way.
Continuing the theme of women entrepreneurs overcoming the odds to find success, the last guest speaker on the podium was social entrepreneur Paula Goosen, founder of Jabulani Jewellery. This determined and passionate supporter of women’s empowerment through the power of traditional beading elevated to a new creative and commercial level, is making a real impact on the lives of Durban’s women beaders. Her company and brand are not only creating beautiful and contemporary beaded jewellery designs and products that appeal to a global marketplace, but also creating opportunities for local women crafters to take economic control of their lives and their families. This talented woman entrepreneur has not only overcome significant challenges in her own life, but is also inspiring so many other women to do the same.
Wrapping up the event was a familiar face to the Lioness Lean In Breakfast series, Jayshree Naidoo, Head of the Standard Bank Business Incubator and a passionate supporter of women entrepreneurs across the African continent. Jayshree entertained the audience with personal stories of her own entrepreneurial and corporate career journey, and shared her insights into what the bank is doing through its Incubator to empower and support women entrepreneurs.
Commenting on the success of the inaugural Lioness Lean In Breakfast event in Durban, Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, said:
“Every city we visit in Africa to stage our Lioness Lean In Breakfast events has a different personality, vibe and entrepreneurial ecosystem, and Durban is certainly unique, as are the inspirational women who are building amazing businesses and brands there. We were blown away by the warmth of the welcome we received and by the hugely personal startup stories we were privileged to hear and share. We cannot wait to return to the city to meet more of its wonderful women entrepreneurs in the very near future.”
For more information on the Lioness Lean In Breakfast event series and to book a place at an event near you, click on http://www.lionessesofafrica.com/events/