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 Ghana’s capital city, Accra, in partnership with Stanbic Bank.
It was wonderful to see women entrepreneurs from all business and industry sectors coming together in Accra and experiencing the ethos behind the Lioness Lean In concept. Around 70 women entrepreneurs gathered in the relaxing surroundings of the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel on 24 August to hear from a panel of leading women entrepreneurs on how to address the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in the country when they are gearing for growth. The audience 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 Ghana in action!
The event started with an official welcome to all the women entrepreneurs attending the event, followed by an informal meet and greet session which invited each of the women to pitch their businesses to each other in 1 minute. It was an impactful way to kickstart the session. The first guest speaker on the podium was Stanbic Bank’s Head of Legal/Company Secretary, Doreen Iliasu, who is a real champion of women’s empowerment and gave a brief introduction to the bank’s support for the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in Ghana. Next came the highlight of the programme, a panel discussion featuring some of the country’s leading women entrepreneurs, and chaired by Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken. The impressive line-up of panel members included Ruka Sanusi, founder of Alldens Lane, Ethel Cofie, founder and ceo of Edel Technology Consulting, Regina Honu, Founder of Soronko Academy, and Boahemaa Ntim, Founder of The Hatchery. The panel looked to address and find practical and innovative solutions to such challenges as how to improve access to markets, access to opportunity, access to funding, and access to networks. The discussion was highly interactive and engaging, with each panel member sharing personal experiences and advice on tackling each of the issues being discussed.
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! Our panel discussion really looked to discuss openly and honestly how to tackle some of the stumbling blocks of scaling a business, and there were some great insights shared by women who are already taking their businesses to the next level, despite all the odds.”
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 Group, in different locations around the continent. The format of each Lioness Lean In is typically 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 Accra, the month of August has seen Lionesses of Africa featuring the startup stories of successful and truly inspirational women business and brand builders from across the country. Check out these and other stories on www.lionessesofafrica.com