It’s that time of year when we like to look back at all the highlights of the last 12 months, and reflect on what an amazing year it has been. So many inspirational women entrepreneurs met and startup stories told; so many unforgettable events held and new business relationships forged; so many business ideas and challenges shared; and importantly, so many lifelong friends made. We would like to take this moment to say a huge thank you to all those who have been part of the Lionesses of Africa journey so far - the women entrepreneurs across the African continent who inspire us every day, the impact partners who work with us to make great things possible, and the entrepreneurial eco-system that continues to connect us like-minded people, amazing partners and supporters from around the world.
So to celebrate the year, we thought we would share some of our Lionesses of Africa highlights with you now, as we reflect on 2016 and look forward to another great new year ahead, one full of opportunity, aspirations and big ideas to be realized.
2016 in numbers
- 250,000 users - we reached our online user goal for 2016 at Lionesses of Africa
- 500,000 page views - our Lionesses of Africa online community is growing through our website
- 40+ African countries - we have a Lionesses of Africa footprint across the continent, with active networks in 40+ countries
- Rapidly growing following in the Diaspora - with our biggest followings in the US, UK, Canada, Netherlands, France, and Germany
- 20 Lioness Lean In Breakfast events in 4 cities, with 60 guest Lioness speakers and 1,190 women entrepreneurs participating
- 320 delegates and 35 speakers at the inaugural Lionesses of Africa Conference
Lioness Lean In Breakfast Events
2016 had a packed schedule of Lioness Lean In Breakfast events, the monthly gatherings of women entrepreneurs and inspirational speakers, hosted by Standard Bank at various venues across South Africa, and for the first time, Mozambique. In all, 20 Lioness Lean In Breakfast events were held in 2016 - 12 in Johannesburg, 4 in Cape Town, 3 in Durban, and 1 in Maputo. The events featured 60 inspirational and highly successful women entrepreneurs as speakers, and attracted capacity audiences at each event, with over 1190 women entrepreneurs attending throughout the year.
Lioness Lean In Liberty Sessions
The year also saw a great new collaboration between Lionesses of Africa and the Liberty Group, aimed at supporting and nurturing a new entrepreneurial spirit in the organisation for its women employees and aspirant women entrepreneurs. 3 Lioness Lean In Liberty Sessions were held in 2016, attracting 150 attendees to the events, which were all hosted at Liberty’s Johannesburg headquarters.
Lionesses of Africa Conference
2016 saw us host the first Lionesses of Africa Conference in Johannesburg on 12 October. This important one-day event brought together truly inspirational women entrepreneurs from across Africa and the Diaspora to both celebrate success and help shape a new future agenda for women's entrepreneurship on the continent. It was an event by Africa's women entrepreneurs for women entrepreneurs - and that's what made it different. The event attracted a capacity audience of 320 delegates, an inspirational panel of 35 international speakers, and 5 incredible impact partners, not to forget some wonderful media coverage from our invited journalists and media partners.
Good Morning Lionesses daily newsletter
Our hugely popular daily newsletter, Good Morning Lionesses, which was launched originally on 17 August 2015, has been published every weekday in 2016 - 260 editions in total. We were pleased to announce that Standard Bank came on board as our official Impact Partner for Good Morning Lionesses in August this year.
The Mix Weekly newsletter
Our other most popular piece of content, our weekly newsletter The Mix, was originally launched on 13 March 2015, and has been published every weekend since, with 52 editions published this year. We were delighted to have Liberty Group join us as our Impact Partner for The Mix in October this year.
Launch of the Lionesses of Africa Accelerator
We were thrilled to launch another exciting and much-needed new initiative in the last quarter of 2016, our inaugural Lionesses of Africa Accelerator, a highly focused 12 week developmental programme aimed at helping women entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level. The first programme in South Africa has a cohort of 30 women entrepreneurs representing a host of business and industry sectors, and is sponsored by Standard Bank, in partnership with Liberty Group.
Launch of the Lionesses of Africa & GE Open Innovation Challenge
As part of its commitment to developing women entrepreneurs, this year saw GE Africa Innovation Centre partnering with Lionesses of Africa on an Open Innovation Challenge, which was officially launched at the Lionesses of Africa Conference in October. Entrants were required to provide a sustainable digital solution to a pressing challenge or opportunity, focusing ideally on the sectors, and businesses, that GE SSA serves (automotive, aviation, chemical, food and beverage, healthcare, industrial manufacturing, intelligent environments, oil and gas, power, transportation). The Challenge was open to all women entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and was won by the innovative Vere Shaba, the owner and managing director of Shaba Green Building Solutions.
A Growing Panel of Guest Bloggers
A huge thank you to all our hugely appreciated guest bloggers and editorial contributors over the past year, all of whom have written some great articles, thought pieces, commentaries, event reports and much more. You are all valued members of the Lionesses of Africa community and your words provide much needed inspiration, advice and information each and every day. We look forward to welcoming each and every one of you back in 2017.
Our Valued Impact Partners
A big thank you to our valued impact partners who have supported and worked with us over the past year. In particular, to Standard Bank and the Standard Bank Business Incubator, under the guidance of Funeka Montjane, Chief Executive Personal & Business Banking South Africa, and Jayshree Naidoo, Head of Business Incubator respectively, both of whom share a vision for the empowerment of Africa’s women entrepreneurs and a real desire to help them to fulfill their considerable potential. We look forward to making great things happen together again in 2017, with some exciting initiatives planned throughout the year. To the Liberty Group, under the guidance of Amanda Khoza, Head of Transformation and Inclusion, another innovative company on a mission to drive a new spirit of women’s entrepreneurship and innovation. We will be rolling out a great new programme of events and other initiatives in 2017 in partnership with Liberty - watch this space. And, to the impact partners who came on board to support the inaugural Lionesses of Africa Conference, which was a huge success thanks to their involvement - to Standard Bank, the Liberty Group, IDF Capital, Telkom and GE. We hope to welcome you all back to the 2017 event, which promises to be another memorable and truly inspirational occasion once again.
Looking forward to 2017
So, having looked back on what was an incredible 2016, our eyes and attention are now well and truly focused on the year ahead, and what an amazing 2017 it promises to be. We will be once again rolling out our monthly Lioness Lean In Sessions in partnership with Standard Bank (watch out for the full calendar of events to be announced shortly), including an exciting roll-out onto the African continent - it’s going to be a memorable year on the event front!; our Lionesses of Africa Accelerator will be in full swing from mid January, hosted by Standard Bank at the SB Incubator in Johannesburg, in partnership with Liberty; we will be hosting a full series of Lioness Lean In Liberty Sessions for intrapreneurs in the company; we will be shortly announcing the date of the 2017 Lionesses of Africa Conference and an exciting speaker line-up - it’s going to be another not-to-be-missed event!; we are going to be announcing the launch of our new Lionesses of Africa podcast radio programmes, a brand new initiative; and, of course, we will continue to bring you your daily Good Morning Lionesses newsletter and your weekly The Mix newsletter. It’s going to be a great year!