This August, Lionesses of Africa is featuring the talented women entrepreneurs who are changing the PR, media and communications landscape in Africa through their innovation, products, services and their passion for what they do.
Some of the names and companies are well-known - others are new to the scene - but all of them are making waves through their work in creating memorable PR campaigns for their clients, producing great brand communications strategies and campaigns, and producing world-class media platforms and channels in television, radio and film, not to mention the published media of magazines and newspapers.
Let's introduce you to some of these amazing women....
Mo Abudu, founder of EbonyLife TV, Nigeria
Mo Abudu is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of EbonyLife TV, Africa's first and fastest growing black entertainment and lifestyle network. Mo Abudu, Nigerian media entrepreneur and talk show host, is the first African woman to launch a Pan-African TV channel. The channel currently on DSTV Channel 165, as well as in the UK on the TalkTalk platform, providing premium, original and home-grown programming to its ever increasing viewership. She has received many awards In recognition of her outstanding work in media and her services to humanity, and was most recently honoured with an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Babcock University. Read more from Mo here.
Khanyi Dhlomo, founder of Ndalo Media, South Africa
Khanyi Dhlomo is the Managing Director of Ndalo Media, which she founded in 2007. She is also the founder of DestinyConnect and the founding editor of Destiny Magazine. Before starting her own media company, Khanyi was editor of True Love magazine for eight years. In 2013, Khanyi ventured in retail and launched Luminance, a high-end fashion and lifestyle department store. Khanyi was named most influential woman in South African Media by The Media Magazine in 2003 and made the 2011 Forbes list of 20 Young Power Women in Africa. Read Khanyi's '100 Lionesses' profile here.
Uche Pedro, founder of BellaNaija.com, Nigeria
Uche Pedro is founder of BellaNaija.com, a company that develops and delivers exciting online content aimed at Nigerian and Pan-African audiences. Uche’s savvy grasp of media trends has led to BellaNaija.com becoming the go-to lifestyle, entertainment and fashion portal in Africa. Her website has established a loyal following amongst the young, cosmopolitan, upwardly mobile set in Nigeria, with over 1 million unique visitors and 9 million page views each month. Read Uche's '100 Lionesses' profile here.
Basetsana Kumalo, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist
Basetsana 'Bassie' Kumalo is a South African television personality, beauty pageant titleholder, serial entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Her career began in 1990 when she was crowned Miss Soweto and Miss Black South Africa at the age of 16. Since then, Bassie has become a formidable force in the business world and is widely respected as both an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. A Director at Travel with Flair, she also owns her own optical, sunglasses and cosmetic range. In the media space, Basetsana is best known as co-founder and Executive Chairman of Tswelopele Productions, a television production company which produces the popular shows Top Billing, Pasella, Ses’Khona amongst others. In 2011 she was honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Read more about Basetsana here.
Patience Stevens, co-founder of Tswelopele Productions, South Africa
Patience Stevens is co-founder of Tswelopele Productions in South Africa, a leading TV production company, accredited by Impumelelo as one of South Africa’s Top 300 empowerment companies. Tswelopele is a Sotho word meaning to lift up, empower and to liberate people. It’s a story of progress driven by the energy and enthusiasm of Tswelopele Production’s Managing Director Patience Stevens and Chairperson Basetsana Kumalo. The company’s flagship brand is the Top Billing TV show that is produced for SABC3, the longest-running entertainment and lifestyle television programme in South Africa. In recent years Top Billing’s success has brought more projects to the reputable Tswelopele brand, such as the Afrikaans weekly magazine programme Pasella on prime time SABC 2, a youth TV show in SiSwati, Ses’khona on SABC 1; a travel series Top Travel which has achieved success locally and on the Travel Channel in Europe and Wealth TV in the USA; Top Dogs, a show celebrating top South African achievers; a talk show No Reservations and in print, Top Billing Magazine. More about Patience.
Diana Opoti, founder of Diana Opoti PR, Kenya
Diana Opoti the founder of Diana Opoti PR is a fashion media professional, avid blogger, entrepreneur and executive producer of the television series Designing Africa, with a hit campaign, 100 Days of African Fashion. Diana is a leading champion of the continent’s fashion design market and has become one of the Africa’s most formidable fashion connectors. In 2014, Diana was nominated as “outstanding Trend Communicator of the year by the continent’s most prestigious awards, The Africa Fashion Awards. More about Diana.
Our Startup stories of Africa's women in Media, PR & Communications
Many small companies recognise that they need media and marketing support, but do not always have the time or money to develop these plans or produce the media to support their businesses. For entrepreneur Lucilla Blankenberg and her company Off the Ground Media, she is not only providing a great solution, but creating a company that makes a difference to the lives of others at the same time through those efforts.
Many people have a natural talent for words, but turning that talent into a business is not always so easy. One woman entrepreneur, Adedoyin Jaiyesimi, founder of The Sparkle Writer's Hub in Nigeria, is providing a supporting learning environment for aspirant writers to develop that talent and pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams.
In the world of branding and design, standing out from the crowd is always a good thing, and Conté Creatives the Agency, the brainchild of South African entrepreneur Charmaine Ngobeni and her business partner Amanda Sibiya, is certainly doing that. Their unique differentiator in the marketplace is not only a great service offering, but also a wonderful creative portfolio magazine showcasing some great work by highly talented designers.
On a mission to take Africa’s most talented make-up artists to the world of film and television, Project FX Make-Up Show Africa, the brainchild of Rosemary Obi, is looking to supercharge the careers of a new generation of home-grown African make-up artists.
In the world of business, the art of storytelling is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a necessity. People connect with brands through stories and therefore companies are becoming more aware of the need to tell those stories in a way that will best connect with consumers. Entrepreneur and language guru, Mignionette Fair, the founder of Fair Translation and Editing Services, has a passion for helping companies to master the art of language to make that all important connection with customers.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and in the case of South African entrepreneur, Karené Wedekind, she is capturing eye-catching images that can help businesses to portray themselves and their products in the best possible light.
Every mum and mum-to-be knows how important it is to learn as much as possible about being a parent and caring for those precious little ones. Seeing a gap in the market for a focused online and event platform that would bring the best information, networking and support for mums in Kenya, led to entrepreneur Christine Khasinah Odero creating Supamamas, a destination of choice for discerning mums.
Nigerian woman-owned startup 30Watt Media understands the power of exceptional service delivery and great communication, helping companies to make the necessary business shifts from simply selling products to offering real customer experiences. At the heart of the business is an understanding of the power of human capital to make a difference to the way consumers experience brands and businesses.
The world of public relations and brand positioning is a highly competitive one, particularly on the African continent, but Mary Njoki, the founder of successful Kenyan PR firm Glass House PR, is determined to be an industry leader by building a foundation of innovation and creativity.
Any successful business knows the importance of strong marketing campaigns to get key messages to customers and connect them to brands and services. One Kenyan company, Round Square Marketing Limited, founded by entrepreneur Fidelis Wanjiku, is demonstrating a powerful track record in creating campaigns and solutions that delivers to its clients.
A passion to see women-led business in Africa succeed as global brands led entrepreneur Emma Tandoh to create her company, Outspoken Edge LLC, a specialist in the field of digital marketing and content development in Ghana. Her approach is to get people talking about the brands she helps to build, which in turn contributes to their success.
Women entrepreneurs who follow their passion and turn it into a business are more likely to find success, as they are driven each day to fulfil their creative ambitions. Abigail K Photography is the passion of Abigail Klopper, a talented photographer who is harnessing the power of her chosen medium to enrich the lives of others.
Reve Productions is the brainchild of Thanthi Sepeng, one of an exciting new breed of entrepreneurs in South Africa who are finding solutions to key challenges. Her company is geared up to provide clients with a comprehensive, professional and unforgettable service, be it in Event Management, Marketing, Event Logistics Management or CSI Projects.
Understanding the power of an integrated communication approach to help businesses to grow and connect with their audiences is something that entrepreneur Basadi Ohimile knows only too well. Her business, The Concept King, is leveraging her own experience and that of her team, to provide an end-to-end communications solution to her clients, both at home and across the continent.
As part of their day-to day business development, entrepreneurs need access to great information, insight and advice, and Wealth Ladder Magazine looks to provide all those things and more. Entrepreneur Beth Malatji is creating not just an informative and engaging published resource but she is also creating networking events that bring entrepreneurs together.
Africa has always had a strong tradition of storytelling, but today stories need to harness the power of all types of media, both traditional and digital, to reach and connect with every type of audience. The talented South African media entrepreneur, BusaBuntu Roaring, founder of BusaBuntu Pictures, knows and understands this dynamic all too well and is leveraging her extensive knowledge and experience of all aspects of the media to tell powerful stories that resonate.
There is something truly inspirational about women entrepreneurs who harness the real power of the media, in particularly TV and Radio, to empower women in their countries through positive messaging, great storytelling, and powerful women role-models. Rwandan entrepreneur, Pascale Bukize, and her fellow team members founded Nawel Company Ltd to produce not only great content and TV shows, but also to launch a pioneering show The Real Women Show, to uplift and inspire other women in the country.
In the highly competitive world of event production, understanding the experiential brand and marketing needs of customers is key, and if there is one company that understands this fact it is Jelim Premier Events. Founder Natacha Nduwimana is an entrepreneur with a keen eye for detail and a comprehensive understanding of the power of brand positioning through event activation, delivering innovative and high quality event experiences in the countries she works in.
Often in business, one of the biggest challenges is making the right brand connection with customers, but one entrepreneur is bringing some innovative solutions to the table. Buzz Events Ltd in Uganda is the brainchild of Tina Byaruhanga, a dynamic entrepreneur who breathes exciting life into brands and businesses through her company’s experiential marketing campaigns.
One woman entrepreneur is bringing her wealth of expertise and experience in the field of publishing to create an online magazine that celebrates enterprising African women and provides a great resource of homegrown solutions to Africa’s unique challenges. Arkad World Limited, the holding company behind Mkazi Magazine, is the brainchild of Kenyan entrepreneur, Angela Kamanzi, and creates information to inspire, motivate and improve the lives of African women entrepreneurs.
Good customer service is so critical to success in all aspects of entrepreneurial life, and therefore the concept and ethos behind Sandra Idossou’s company, The ServiceMag, couldn’t have come at a better time in Africa. She is passionately committed to helping companies and organisations to improve their customer centricity and, as a result, helping to make the continent more customer focused in its entrepreneurial approach.
In the highly competitive and fast moving world of corporate branding, marketing and graphic design, finding a specialist niche is key. South African creative design studio, SummerTime, is one such company leading the field by providing a powerful combination of passion for the work they do, combined with an innovative approach to solving branding and marketing challenges on behalf of their clients.
One young South African entrepreneur taking a literal approach to building an empire is Lucy Worsley, the founder of Empire Experiential Marketing. She has captured a gap in the market to bring a fresh, vibrant approach to brand marketing by creating highly focused, custom experiences for the world’s leading brands in Africa.
Building a genuinely pan-African brand can be a challenge, but it is one that entrepreneur Irene Ochem is more than ready for, as her company, ICO Conferences & Events Limited, is building a great reputation for organising successful and high profile events across the continent. She is also creating a great network for women decision-makers and opinion-formers to come together and help to foster the empowerment of African women.
Lifa Communications is a specialist consulting firm servicing the traditionally male dominated industry sectors such as mining, agriculture, oil, gas, energy and technology, and is the brainchild of founder Gabriella von Ille. The company prides itself on its global experience and expertise, combined with unique African industry insight - a powerful combination.
There is a considerable market that exists for specialist event management and PR companies in Africa, and one young startup in South Africa, K2 PR and Events, is looking to make its mark too. Founder Kynaro Kinnear is following in her mother’s footsteps to take her original business dream and turn it into a reality.
If there is one word that could best describe PR entrepreneur, Damaris Nyabuti, the founder of Dharkemmy Corporate Communications in Nairobi, Kenya, it is tenacious. Despite all the challenges that have faced her throughout her career, she has remained true to her passion for PR and communications and been determined to realise her vision of starting her own company. She is a force to be reckoned with and understands the power of sheer hard work to make things happen.
Africa has a wealth of PR, media and communications talent, and no two companies are the same. In the case of Sheila Afari Public Relations, this proudly African PR entrepreneur is passionate about showcasing the best of African brands to the rest of the world, and is differentiating herself and her company in the marketplace as a result.
The all-woman entrepreneurial team behind South African niche PR company, Unorthodox, live up to their name as they take a unique approach to the corporate public relations, communications and partnerships they undertake. The dynamic duo of Sibabalwe Sesmani and Zuziwe Mkhwanazi work exclusively with corporates and differentiate themselves in the marketplace by dealing with "firsts" in their industry. They strive to create their own genre of public relations, one that specializes in corporates and thought leaders of industries.
Lotjhani Branding comes from the isiNdebele word Lotjhani, which is pronounced Lo-cha-ni, meaning ‘greetings to you all’. The name encompasses the ethos of the company, which is a creative collaborative hub specialising in brand strategy, copywriting and design. What makes it unique is that the team at Lotjhani, founder Tiisetso Skosana and her associate, Matilda Sekoakoa, who is a freelance brand consultant working with the company, welcome genuine collaboration and creativity for the greater good of all.
Why LoA loves Africa's Women in the World of Media, PR and Communications ….
For companies, organisations and brands, making a powerful connection with audiences, consumers and other key stakeholders is key. Creating messaging and campaigns that have the power to reach those audiences is where specialist companies and advisors come into the picture. Here in Africa we are blessed with some of the most talented communications and brand experts who are creating award-winning campaigns for their clients and finding solutions to the most challenging of communications problems. This month, we salute each of these Women in the Media, PR and Communications industries for getting the messages and brands out there! --- Melanie Hawken, founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa