At the final Lioness Lean In event of the year for South Africa, women entrepreneurs were given a unique opportunity to let off some steam and experience the thrill of adrenaline pumping, high-speed advanced driving, courtesy of impact partners Volkswagen. It was a great way of starting the morning’s programme with something a little different.
The November Lioness Lean In event programme got off to a different start in Centurion, South Africa, in addition to the usual programme format that women entrepreneurs have come to know and love. Thanks to Lionesses of Africa’s great impact partners, Volkswagen South Africa, who hosted the morning’s event, attendees were given the chance to experience a once in a lifetime driving experience at the VW Training Academy. An adrenaline pumping, high-speed driving gymkhana was set up around a parking lot maze, conducted by a team of professionally trained Volkswagen Driving Academy instructors in some of their most beautiful, high performance GTL vehicles. It was a thrilling start to the morning’s programme, and definitely one of the most memorable.
Following the driving experience, the 120 women entrepreneur attendees were then treated to breakfast and networking, before the Lioness Lean In event got underway in earnest. Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa, welcomed everyone to the event and introduced the executive team from VWSA who were co-hosting the event. Meredith Kelly, the VW Marketing and Communications Manager was first to the podium to officially welcome everyone to the VW Training Academy, before formally introducing Martina Biene, Head of Volkswagen Brand who has recently joined VWSA and who expressed the company’s interest in further building the brand amongst women business owners. She was followed by Chrystal Christian, Head of VW’s Customer Experience Centre.
One of the highlights of the Lioness Lean In breakfast events is always having the opportunity to hear from other women entrepreneurs about how they have built their successful businesses and brands. Kickstarting this section of the programme was magazine publishing entrepreneur, Amanda Sibiya, founder of Hadithi, a wonderful new magazine and storytelling platform. She shared her journey of being a serial entrepreneur in a very niche business sector, and the challenges of building a publishing brand from the ground up. Next to the podium was Michelle Rumbelow, founder of Liviya, a beautiful new lingerie and sleepwear company that is winning new fans who love to look and feel good, whether they are busy at work, exercising in the gym, or relaxing at home. Wrapping up the entrepreneur story sharing for the morning was Thokozile Mangwiro, founder of Nilotiqua, a wonderful specialist haircare brand that has recently launched into mainstream retail through the Clicks retail group. Thokozile shared her unique story of the challenges of building a brand and getting a major retailer on board to reach greater markets. Her story was both inspirational and insightful.
A popular new feature of the Lioness Lean In events is the Lioness CoLab where women entrepreneurs who are creating exciting new products and services by collaborating with others are showcased to the audience. On this occasion it was the turn of highly experienced entrepreneur Michelle Smith, founder of Woven Bark Studios, a specialist corporate and personal luxury gifting company, to introduce her company and products. Michelle spoke about her passion for supporting other entrepreneurs by sourcing from them a selection of beautiful, handcrafted products for her luxury gift-boxes, which are purchased by big corporates who want to give personalized gifts to their valued employees and clients.
The final highlight of the morning came with the Lioness Launch feature in the programme, which provides a powerful platform for women entrepreneurs to launch their new products to the audience. This time it was the turn of successful serial beverage brand building entrepreneur, Nzeka Biyela, who is the cofounder of Sugarbird Gin, a fabulous new South African gin brand. Nzeka shared the story of how Sugarbird Gin came to be launched in the market and introduced a beautiful new gift box for the festive season containing a bottle of Sugarbird, an artisan mixer, and some innovative festive gin shot baubles. The audience were then given the opportunity to experience the new Sugarbird Gin brand for themselves with a live gin tasting session.
The morning’s programme was wrapped up by Lionesses of Africa CEO, Melanie Hawken, who returned to the podium to share news of forthcoming Lionesses of Africa initiatives and events for women entrepreneurs. A prize draw followed, with gifts being donated by Nilotiqa, Hadithi, Liviya, Woven Bark Studios, Sugarbird Gin, and Gone Rural. The highlight of the prize draw was a special prize donated by Volkswagen SA of a morning’s high powered advanced driving course with a specialist instructor from the VWSA Training Academy. Martina Biene, Head of Volkswagen Brand, presented the prizes to all the lucky winners.
The event ended with more networking and the chance for women entrepreneurs to visit the display stands of each of the women entrepreneur speakers and presenters. It was definitely one of the most memorable Lioness Lean In events this year.