On the morning of Tuesday 9 October, Zimbabwe’s leading women entrepreneurs gathered together in Harare at The Venue to be inspired and to connect with their fellow women business and brand builders at the inaugural Lioness Lean In breakfast event in the country. And it lived up to its promise of a great occasion! The event was cohosted by Lionesses of Africa and Nedbank.
The Lioness Lean In Breakfast event in Harare welcomed 150 leading women entrepreneurs for a morning of sharing, inspiring and connecting for greater business success. The morning’s agenda commenced with breakfast and networking, with women entrepreneurs getting the opportunity to meet one another, make important connections, and open up new business opportunities. The event programme then formally got under way with a vibrant welcome from event MC Candice Mwakalyelye. The official opening remarks came in the form of an address by Advocate Neeta Joshi, Nedbank’s Chief Governance & Compliance Officer, which received enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Next to the speaker podium to present an overview of the work of Lionesses of Africa to empower and support 1 million women entrepreneurs across the African continent was founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken. She shared some of the major initiatives currently being rolled out by Lionesses of Africa and also plans for the remainder of the year ahead.
Speaking in advance of the event, Melanie Hawken commented:
“It’s wonderful to finally bring our Lioness Lean In events to Harare, and to have the opportunity of connecting with and building our community of women entrepreneurs in the city. It will be good to share news of the various initiatives that Lionesses of Africa is rolling out for these women business builders, and also to showcase their stories and their businesses all this month on all the Lionesses of Africa platforms.”
Other highlights on the programme included an inspirational speech from Dr Divine Ndhlukula, founder and ceo of Securico. She shared her own startup story with the audience and her plans for the future growth of her business. Her insights from so many years spent as an entrepreneur, building what is today a really game-changing business in Zimbabwe, were invaluable to the audience.
Next to the podium was Rudo Nyangulu-Mungofa, executive director of Stimulus Africa, a business incubator and accelerator programme in Africa, and the founder of online trade platform Choose Women: Buy Local. Rudo shared her passion for the economic empowerment of women and youth through entrepreneurship, and gave an overview of some of the initiatives she is creating for women in business in Harare.
The final guest speaker to the podium was Elizabeth Magaya, founder of Blissford Investments, who shared her very personal story of her journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Her words and her story moved the audience deeply, who connected with her on an emotional level and identified with her many challenges faced along the way.
Presenting an overview of the support, specialist products and services that have been created for women entrepreneurs from Nedbank was the Head of SME Banking, Miriam Zisengwe. She spoke passionately about the commitment of the bank to support economic development through the growth of SMEs in the country, and particularly women owned businesses. The extensive range of products and services on offer to women entrepreneurs from the bank was impressive.
Lionesses of Africa Founder and CEO, Melanie Hawken, then returned to the speaker podium to announce some exciting new initiatives that will benefit the women entrepreneurs of Zimbabwe. These included Lioness CoLab, a platform to promote new products and services being created by fellow women entrepreneurs. Also, Lioness Launch, a platform dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs to digitally launch their new products and services into the marketplace across the African continent through the Lionesses of Africa community. Melanie also announced the launch of the 1 Million Websites initiative, aimed at providing a unique opportunity for women entrepreneurs to access key global markets through fully e-commerce empowered free websites for their products.
Finally, as part of the morning’s programme, the Lioness Launch Open Mike session commenced, with 10 women entrepreneurs invited to get up on stage to pitch their businesses, products and services in 1 minute to the audience.
The event then come to a formal close with an address by Dedrey Mutimutema, Executive Head of Marketing, PR & Communications, Nedbank, followed by a speed networking session, with women entrepreneurs encouraged to introduce and pitch their businesses to one another. This highly effective way of making new business connections is very popular with women entrepreneurs attending each Lioness Lean In event around the African continent.
Speaking on behalf of Nedbank, Miriam Zisengwe, Head of SME Banking, said:
“We have a passion for women as individuals, as entrepreneurs and as they climb the ladder in the corporate world. You may have noted that Nedbank Zimbabwe is also an employer of choice for women. Our passion culminated in the launch of our women value proposition in 2015, which is targeted at women in their various capacities - women in employment, women in business and women business leaders. This was the first unilateral female centric initiative by a financial institution in Zimbabwe, before the RBZ National Financial Inclusion strategy, which encouraged financial institutions to create Women’s Desks. In the near future, we look forward to a dedicated Women’s Desk or a fully-fledged Women’s Business Unit. Our aim is to partner with entrepreneurs as they scale up their businesses.”
For more information on Lionesses of Africa and the Lioness Lean In events, go to www.lionessesofafrica.com To find out more about what Nedbank is doing to support women entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe, visit their website www.nedbank.co.zw. To set up a meeting or conversation, contact Miriam Zisengwe, Head of SME Banking, MiriamZ@nedbank.co.zw