A highlight of the forthcoming Start-Up Night! Africa event in London on 26th June will be a panel discussion featuring three leading women entrepreneurs from South Africa who have built successful global brands. They share their personal brand building stories, and talk about the opportunities for Africa’s women entrepreneurs to break into global marketplaces, the current interest from global markets in women owned brands that have a strong backstory, and the investment climate for Africa’s women owned businesses looking to grow.
Margaret Hirsch, co-founder of Hirsch’s Homestores, has become a leading example to business women in Southern Africa – coming from a humble background, to co-founding and running the multi billion rand Appliance and Electronic retail organization, Hirsch’s. Margaret has been recognized through her efforts in building a successful business, and her determination to give back to the community by, over the last four years, winning a multitude of business awards, including two Lifetime Achievement Awards in business and entrepreneurship. As Chief Operations Officer of the Hirsch group, a sought after speaker at business events and schools, where she has established a successful motivational programme across Southern Africa, this dynamic woman who is passionate about her business and the people who work for and with her, has become a legend in her time. Margaret regards herself as a “jack of all trades”, having done the selling, invoicing, demonstrating, being a delivery person on the trucks, installing and demonstrating in customers homes and generally taking care of almost everything at Hirsch’s for the past 37 years. Margaret’s knack of empowering everyone who works for the company is extraordinary. www.hirschs.co.za
Bernie De Le Cuona is the South African founder of de le Cuona, an international luxury brand founded 25 years ago. The company is a purveyor of unique interior fabrics and accessories, loved for its washed linen, fine cashmere and wool paisley. De Le Cuona is a luxury fabric design brand celebrating master weaving techniques and artisan craftsmanship. Bernie travels the world working with the finest artisans, best spinners and specialist mills, developing traditional and innovative techniques that bring her designs to life. Whether it’s stonewashing and embossing linen or weaving paisley on authentic looms, it’s the raw sophistication of these weaves and the iconic ‘handle’ and ‘fall’ of the fabric that sets de Le Cuona apart. The collections are inspired by travel and contrasting cultures. Whether it is the rugged natural accents of the African bush, an original artist’s canvas in Los Angeles, or an antique shawl uncovered in Kashmir, she interprets these ‘moments’ into superior fabrics that adorn both classic and contemporary interiors. Bernie is an industry expert and acclaimed business woman with de Le Cuona showrooms in London and New York, and a network of elite distributors and agents worldwide. The new flagship showroom at 44 Pimlico Road opens in June 2018, and is set to refashion the fabric house in one of London’s most prestigious design districts. www.delecuona.com
Brenda Wilkinson is the co-founder, together with husband Nick, of the multi award-winning Rio Largo Olive Oil in South Africa. Whilst Nick is in charge of production, Brenda, a marketing specialist, travels the world promoting the Rio Largo Olive Oil brand and products to global retailers and consumers alike. The brand has consistently won awards for its superior olive oil since its first Double Gold Award back in 2010 from the SA Olive Association, a first award of its kind. Since then, Rio Largo Olive Oil won the coveted Gold Award in Japan for its 2016 harvest, and Best in Class Award in Japan. The olives grown on the RIO LARGO ESTATE are hand picked, thus providing much needed employment for the people in the valley where they are grown. www.riolargo.co.za