On 23rd June, the day that the Dell City Index ranked Johannesburg as the 23rd best city in the world for high growth women entrepreneurs, the latest in the highly successful series of Lioness Lean In breakfast events took place in the city’s Rosebank district. Around 60 leading women entrepreneurs and startups gathered at the Standard Bank Business Incubator in Rosebank to share their inspirational stories, to network, and to connect for business.
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 and to network, and on this particular occasion, they braved a chilly winter’s morning to gather together. On arrival, the attendees immediately got on with the main business of the morning, enjoying breakfast created by the ever popular entrepreneurial team at Roast Republic, and of course, networking - lots of it!
The morning’s programme was launched by Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, who got the event underway by encouraging every woman entrepreneur in the room to make at least one new business connection during the morning, with an impromptu 30 second business card swop session to kickstart proceedings. The first speaker to be welcomed to the podium was the inspirational Bushera Bashir, founder of the global luxury cashmere scarf brand, Trebene. She shared her unique story of how she is building her South Africa headquartered company and brand to be a player in the global luxury accessory marketplace, whilst at the same time being a beacon of hope and social enterprise in her support for the weavers of Kashmir who supply the precious raw materials for her scarves. Her story resonated hugely with so many women entrepreneurs in the audience who are also looking to build successful businesses with a social conscience and impact in the world.
Next up to the speaker podium was the highly engaging fashion retail entrepreneur, Nobesuthu Ndlovu, co-founder of the successful retail brand Burgundy Fly. She held the audience enthralled as she gave a very frank and personal account of how she went from being a career banker to becoming a champion of proudly South African fashion design and retail. Her startup story, which spans eight years of building her company and brand, and during which time she encountered challenges and hurdles that would have deterred many people, is a testimony to the tenacity and ‘never give up’ attitude of so many women entrepreneurs in Africa. Burgundy Fly is definitely an exciting fashion retail brand to watch over the coming months and years.
Returning to the Lioness Lean In stage this month was the popular artisan baker, Babette van der Walt, founder of Babette’s Bread, who once again inspired and entertained the audience with her unique story of making the brave career move from lawyer to baker. She enthralled attendees with her description of building a successful bakery whilst at the same time educating consumers about the health and dietary benefits of lovingly made artisan bread. As an incentive to get more women to appreciate the art of artisan bread-baking, Babette offered to give away two free tickets to her bread baking workshop to two lucky winners in the audience.
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.
Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, said of the success of this latest Lioness Lean In Breakfast event:
“It was wonderful to gather together such an inspirational group of women entrepreneurs in Johannesburg on the very day that the city received its ranking as one of the best in the world for high growth women entrepreneurs by the Dell City Index. It sends a clear message to all those women who may be considering starting up a business in Johannesburg that there has never been a better time to take the plunge and launch a new business. In fact, it’s a great time to be a woman entrepreneur on the African continent as a whole!”
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/