Further, Together! That was the main message coming from the latest Lioness Lean In Breakfast event for women entrepreneurs held in Johannesburg on Thursday 2 August. Over 100 women entrepreneurs gathered in the wonderful surroundings of the new Hogan Lovells building in Sandton, as the company joined Lionesses of Africa as its latest impact partner to co-host the event for the morning.
On a sunshine filled winter’s morning, over 100 women entrepreneurs braved the morning rush hour to head to Sandton, Johannesburg to attend the monthly Lioness Lean In breakfast event in the city. Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, was joined by a real champion of women entrepreneurs, lawyer Candice Pillay, a partner at Hogan Lovells in South Africa, to host the event. As everyone arrived for a great networking breakfast held in the sun-filled atrium in this spectacular building, spirits were high and the conversation noise level matched.
Once everyone filed into the auditorium, the event got underway with an official welcome and introduction to the morning’s proceedings from Melanie Hawken, followed by welcome remarks from Candice Pillay. She spoke about the work Hogan Lovells does to support women entrepreneurs and about her own business journey. Getting the programme underway, Melanie Hawken gave an insightful presentation on ‘Cocoanomics’, talking about the new generation of women entrepreneurs in Africa who are leading an exciting and ambitious new push to create a thriving, independent artisanal chocolate industry on the continent. Sharing some fascinating statistics, attendees were shocked to hear that Africa produces 75% of the world’s cocoa but only produces 1% of the world’s chocolate, exemplifying Africa’s commodity trap. Melanie introduced the stories of the game-changing women entrepreneurs who are rising to the challenge of rectifying this economic situation. She shared the stories of Kimberley and Priscilla Addison of 57 Chocolate in Ghana; Chinga Musonda of Savanna Premium Chocolate in Zambia; Dana Mroueh of Mon Choco in Cote d’Ivoire; Selassie Atadika of Midunu Chocolates in Ghana; Oluwafemi Oyedipe of Loshes Chocolate in Nigeria; Nathalie Kpante of ChocoTogo in Togo; Jaki Kweka of Chocolate Mamas in Tanzania; Sefora Noor and friends at Kakawa Chocolates in Mozambique; and Vicki Bain of Chocoloza in South Africa who was at the event and part of the audience.
Speaking at the event, Melanie Hawken commented: “There is nothing quite like a Johannesburg Lioness Lean In Breakfast event. The women entrepreneurs in this city really embrace the concept of inspiring, sharing and connecting at these events, and take every opportunity to meet new people, expand their networks, and of course, do business.”
The start-up story section of the event programme featuring three successful women-owned businesses in very different industry sectors commenced with Deidre Akaloo and Lynette Murua, co-founders of Earth Elements, a natural hair and beauty brand established by the two sisters. Next came Refilwe Sebothoma, founder of PBM Creations, a business that helps clients to create safe working environments for employees through the supply of premium PPE Personal Protective Equipment. Finally, Dr Levashni Naidoo (or Dr Lev as she is fondly known) founder of The Dermatology Room, shared her story of building a successful business that helps clients to find solutions to various skin conditions, both aesthetic and medical. This section of the programme stimulated many questions from members of the audience, interested in engaging and learning from these highly experienced founders.
The programme then moved onto the Lioness CoLab presentation, where Melanie Hawken returned to share with the audience the latest news of women entrepreneurs in the Lionesses of Africa network who are collaborating to launch some interesting new businesses, products and services. As part of this session, Clare Appleyard, founder of South African bespoke jewellery brand, Katannuta Diamonds, presented a collaboration she recently undertook with chocolatier Vicki Bain of Chocoloza, for an evening of Chocolate and Diamonds in Johannesburg.
Next on the programme came Lioness Launch with news of women entrepreneurs launching new products during the month around the continent and globally. Sharing her story as part of this session was jewellery Jenni Gault, founder of Jenni Gault International who launched her exciting new Warrior collection of jewellery to the audience. She also gave a special gift of one of her designer rings to a lucky prize draw winner. An Open Mic session followed providing members of the audience with a platform to introduce their new businesses, products and services. Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, returned to close the event with news of forthcoming initiatives and events taking place in the network over the coming month, and with a special Prize Draw featuring gifts donated by the guest speakers on the day.
The event concluded with more networking, pitching of businesses, and coffee chats between the women entrepreneurs attending. Another successful Lioness Lean In event in Johannesburg!
For more information on other Lioness Lean In events taking place this year, go to http://www.lionessesofafrica.com/lioness-lean-in-series/