Event Report | Lioness Lean In | Maputo, 23 November 2018
What a year, and what a final gathering in Maputo, as around 100 women entrepreneurs got together for the last Lioness Lean In event in the country for 2018. On a blustery, rather chilly morning outside, the atmosphere was much warmer and more inspirational inside the Standard Bank Incubadora, once again the host venue for the event.
The morning got off to a great start with a great breakfast and plenty of networking, as women entrepreneurs took the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and to meet new potential customers and collaborators. The marketplace, featuring some of Maputo’s leading women entrepreneurs and their businesses, showcased some great, locally made products for attendees to sample and buy - these included floral displays, children’s designer clothing, jewellery, handbags and accessories, beautiful capulana fabric, and tasty homemade treats. It was great timing for those spontaneous purchases, just before the start of the holiday season.
The programme got underway in earnest, opened by Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa, who welcomed attendees with a brief introduction to the work of the organisation and gave a taster of the morning’s proceedings ahead. She said, “It’s wonderful to be back in Maputo for the last of our Lioness Lean In events in the country for 2018 - what an amazing year this has been. It is always a thrill to be here, to see the Lionesses of Africa community growing and thriving in Mozambique, and to meet the women entrepreneurs who are building some interesting businesses here. It is always 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. We are seeing some great products and services being created here, and some of these businesses definitely have the potential to grow and trade with other parts of the continent.”
Following Melanie to the podium was co-host for the morning representing the event’s official impact partner Standard Bank Mozambique, Helia Campos, Head of Human Capital. She gave an overview of the work the bank does to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs, and the type of products and services on offer to women owned businesses in the country.
Always the highlight of the Lioness Lean In events are the startup stories shared by successful and inspirational women entrepreneurs from the host city, who give personal insights into how they have built their businesses, brands and products over the years. The guest speaker line up included Deyzes Pereira, founder of Startup Consulting, who spoke about her journey to building her business that today helps startups to grow and thrive. Next to share her story was Perola Cuco, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Ecla Services and Cucu’s Lucian Lavandaria. She was a huge hit with the audience as she shared a very personal and emotive story of the challenges she overcame to become an entrepreneur, and her ambitions for the future. The third and final guest speaker for the morning was Patricia Monteiro, founder of children’s luxury clothing brand, Patatufes. She gave a real insight into what it takes to build a boutique retail manufacturing brand in Mozambique, and one that is building a real fan base in the country.
The next part of the programme, always a hit with audiences across the African continent, was the Lioness Launch feature. Six women entrepreneurs were selected from the audience to present and pitch their newly launched businesses, products and services in one minute. The pitches were some of the best ones seen this year, and it was a great way of connecting these business owners with potential new buyers and distributors in the audience.
Bringing the event to a close, Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, returned to the podium to share news and updates on some of the latest developments happening at Lionesses of Africa. Highlights included news of the Mozambican businesses who have been nominated to participate in the Lionesses of Africa and Cherie Blair Foundation Global Women’s Mentoring Programme in 2019; news of forthcoming events around the African continent to close out the Lioness Lean In year; and a call to action for attendees to join the community and take advantage of all the support and resources available from the Lionesses of Africa community.The event ended in the usual way with a prize draw featuring gifts donated by the women entrepreneurs exhibiting and speaking at the event and some speed networking over refreshments.