If there’s one thing that captures the spirit of enterprise in Africa, it’s when women entrepreneurs get together to network, to share experiences, and to collaborate for greater business success. That spirit was evident this week when Lionesses of Africa hosted the first of its Lioness Lean In events in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, in partnership with Standard Bank.
It was wonderful to see women entrepreneurs from all business and industry sectors in Lilongwe experiencing the ethos behind the Lioness Lean In concept. They came together in the picturesque surroundings of the Latitude13 Hotel in Lilongwe on 15th March, and listened to the inspirational startup stories and embraced the networking opportunities, not seeing other women entrepreneurs as business competitors, but as empathetic fellow women travelers on the business building journey. That’s the spirit of enterprise in Africa in action!
The Lioness Lean In events are proving to be a huge hit with women entrepreneurs who come together in key cities to ‘lean in’ and listen to successful women business brand builders share their stories, to inspire one another, and to network and connect for business success.
Melanie Hawken, founder & CEO of Lionesses of Africa, said of the event:
"Put women entrepreneurs in a room together, the networking starts immediately, the noise level rises as interesting conversations take place, and great things happen on the business front - its inspirational!”
The Lioness Lean In lunch event in Lilongwe, Malawi, was co-hosted by Dr Margaret Kubwalo-Chaika, Head of Personal and Business Banking, Standard Bank, Malawi, and Lionesses of Africa founder and CEO, Melanie Hawken. The event also heard from two highly successful Malawian women entrepreneurs who came along to share their personal business building stories, to network with other women business owners, and to talk about how they have achieved success and overcome the challenges along the way. These included Michelle Mbilizi, founder of Marcus Hills and Absolute Furniture; and Jetto Myaba, founder and MD of Mwaya Enterprises. The event also saw the opportunity for three women entrepreneurs to stand up and present their elevator pitches for their businesses to the audience, a great way of getting their brands, products and services across to potential customers.
Dr Margaret Kubwalo-Chaika, Head of Personal and Business Banking, Standard Bank, Malawi commented:
“Every woman entrepreneur has a dream and a passion - and these are the two basic ingredients for building great businesses. But it’s not enough to simply dream - sometimes, it takes a spark to ignite an idea and to make it a reality - to build a business that has integrity and can go the distance.”
Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, says of the Lioness Lean In event series: “There is a real energy at all our Lioness Lean In events across the African continent, as women entrepreneurs at all stages of their business journeys get the opportunity to network and connect with one another, share stories, swop ideas, and of course, do business with one another. I enjoyed meeting the truly inspirational women entrepreneurs of Malawi who are helping to create a new and exciting spirit of enterprise in the country.”
The Lioness Lean In events are based on a successful networking and speaker presentation format that is highly popular with women entrepreneurs in Africa, and Lionesses of Africa has been rolling these events out, city by city, for the past 12 months. However, 2017 will see a record number of events taking place, organized in partnership with Standard Bank, in different locations around the continent. The format of each Lioness Lean In is a three hour event, commencing with networking, followed by inspirational guest speakers sharing their own entrepreneurial journeys and experiences; often a guest woman artisan entrepreneur is invited to speak and share their brand building story, presenting their unique handcrafted products to the audience; a presentation from the in-country Standard Bank senior executive follows; and the event is rounded-off with more networking over coffee and cake.
To coincide with the Lioness Lean In launch event in Malawi, the month of March sees Lionesses of Africa featuring the startup stories of successful and truly inspirational women business and brand builders from across the country.