Lionesses of Africa officially kickstarted its global women’s entrepreneur showcase event programme for the year back in our favourite European city, Berlin, on the evening of 20 March. Lionesses of Africa founder and CEO, Melanie Hawken, joined Former Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, Brigitte Zypries, and other leading entrepreneurial eco-system players, to showcase and celebrate innovative digital entrepreneurs from both Germany and Africa.
This latest event was held once again in the stately surroundings of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy in Mitte in the heart of Berlin. Lionesses of Africa selected 2 leading women entrepreneurs from the continent to pitch their innovative digital platforms, apps and solutions to big business, government, investors and influencers at the event. It was an exciting platform and one which attracted a capacity audience, eager to hear some great new ideas and products being pitched.
"This event is a wonderful example of the power of partnership to make things happen for Africa’s digital women entrepreneurs."
MC for the evening was Judith Helfmann-Hundack of the German African Business Association, who welcomed guests and pitchers alike. First to the stage to give the opening address was Mr Andreas Goerdeler of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, who talked about the importance of digital innovation to find solutions to key business and social challenges. Next on the programme was a panel discussion featuring Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa, Christoph Kennengiesser, ceo of the German African Business Association, and Dr Volker Treier, Deputy General Manager of DIHK. The trio discussed the roles of their organizations in supporting the growth and development of digital entrepreneurship in Africa. Melanie spoke about the importance of Africa’s women entrepreneurs in getting access to global markets, and gave feedback on the progress being made by the women entrepreneurs who pitched at last year’s Startup Night Africa event. She said:
“This event is a wonderful example of the power of partnership to make things happen for Africa’s digital women entrepreneurs. It’s about getting the world talking about the incredible women entrepreneurs on the African continent who are developing innovative solutions and products that can address real challenges in today’s world. The Startup Night Africa event in Berlin, and its track record in giving exposure to some of the most innovative women digital entrepreneurs on the African continent, already speaks for itself. Thanks to such key global champions as Former Minister Brigitte Zypries who had the vision to launch such an initiative in the first place, Africa’s women entrepreneurs are getting the attention of important global markets which is key to their future growth.”
"It’s about getting the world talking about the incredible women entrepreneurs on the African continent who are developing innovative solutions and products that can address real challenges in today’s world."
The programme for the Startup-Night Africa event continued with two rounds of pitching - firstly, from African startup companies offering creative solutions for the German and African markets; and secondly, from German startups that have developed interesting business models for Africa. The first of the Lionesses of Africa to pitch on the evening was Dorcas Muthoni, founder of Open World in Kenya, who showcased her game-changing new app called Open Business. It is an affordable point of sale app giving micro-entrepreneurs the tools to run and grow their businesses by keeping track of sales and inventory in real time. Next up on the speaker platform was South African entrepreneur, Jacqueline Rogers, founder of My Pregnancy Journey, and the creator of a new life-changing app for Africa’s expectant moms. It provides relevant, local content on a wide range of subjects relevant to those women who need a wealth of information on their pregnancy, but often can’t access it when they need it. The third round saw well-established German enterprises willing to collaborate with African startups on new digital developments. The event closed with a poster session featuring many of the participants and networking.
Commenting on the lasting impact that the partnership between Lionesses of Africa and the BMWi for the Startup Night Africa Berlin event has had to date, Melanie Hawken said:
A great example of the impact that results following their showcase and exposure at Startup Night Africa in Berlin, can be seen in the five inspirational women who participated in last year’s event. They are now collaborating and doing business with German companies and really taking their businesses to the next level. These included Vere Shaba, founder and Director at Shaba & Ramplin Green Building Solutions in South Africa; Brenda Katwesigye, founder of WaziVision in Uganda; Josephine Marie Godwyll, founder of Young At Heart GH in Ghana; Benji Coetezee, founder and ceo of EmptyTrips in South Africa; and Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder of LifeBank in Nigeria. Illustrating the exciting developments that are being announced by these five women entrepreneurs working in collaboration with their German partners, Melanie Hawken gave a live demonstration of the WaziVision eye-testing technology that is changing lives in Africa.
The Africa Startup Night Berlin event was live-streamed throughout the evening, giving other women entrepreneurs from across the African continent the opportunity to see their fellow Lionesses in action as they pitched their products and services. The next Lionesses of Africa Startup Night Africa event is being held in London on 26th April, in partnership with Standard Bank Wealth International, at the Oxo2 Building on Tower Wharf, overlooking the River Thames. To find out more, go to http://www.lionessesofafrica.com/startup-night-africa/