The global news media was abuzz this month with the Royal Visit to Africa by their royal highnesses, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Lionesses of Africa had the opportunity to meet with the Duchess and talk women’s entrepreneurship in Africa during the final leg of their visit to Johannesburg. The occasion was a special reception hosted by Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Mrs Emma Wade-Smith OBE, at her official residence in the city.
The sun shone and the atmosphere was buzzing on Wednesday 2 October as guests gathered in the beautiful gardens of the official residence of Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Mrs Emma Wade-Smith OBE, to welcome two special Royal visitors. Ending their tour of Southern Africa, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Johannesburg to meet with business representatives, entrepreneurs, social impact-makers, and government officials, under the auspices of the UK Department of International Trade. Acknowledging the interest in, and focus on, women’s empowerment on the part of the Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Lionesses of Africa was invited to meet with her on the day and to introduce its work to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in Africa.
Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa was there to meet the Duchess, who was accompanied by Emma Wade-Smith, and to introduce eight selected women entrepreneurs from the LoA community and representing very different business backgrounds in South Africa. These included:
Thokozile Mangwiro, founder of Nilotiqa, a rising star of the South African haircare industry; Thato Kgatlhanye, founder of Rethaka, an impact driven social entrepreneur and creator of the Repurpose Schoolbags;
Thabiso Mahlape, founder of Blackbird Books, South Africa’s independent black book publishing company giving voice to local black authors;
Renchia Droganis, founder of Africology, the leading global wellness and spa brand;
Refilwe Segothoma, founder of PBM Creations, a specialist Personal Protective Equipment manufacturer;
Nonhlanhla Mayisela, ceo of Izandla Property Fund;
Neliswe Fente, cofounder of SpringAge, a youth empowerment and innovation organisation; and Kristine Pearson, founder of Lifeline Energy, the social entrepreneur empowering and educating young people through windup radios in rural communities.
Each of the women entrepreneurs got the opportunity to meet the Duchess and to introduce their businesses and brands as part of the event, an unforgettable experience for everyone.
Following their meetings and conversations with various groups in the gardens, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex addressed those gathered, sharing their thoughts and reflections on their African visit and experiences, and reinforcing their commitment to the continent. The event continued through the afternoon with guests visiting the various creative displays, curated by Nandos, and featuring rising stars of South Africa’s creative scene, including the talented Thabisa Mjo, founder of Mash T Design who showcased her award-winning furniture designs. It was a memorable day and an impact driven visit to Africa by these passionate royal visitors.