It is always an exciting moment when a new cohort of high growth potential women entrepreneurs graduate from the Lionesses of Africa Accelerator programme. On 6 May, 29 women entrepreneurs had the opportunity to showcase their businesses at a very special Lionesses of Africa & Siemens Accelerator Pitch Day. The event took place at Siemens Africa offices in Midrand, South Africa, with invited guests including decision-makers from the Siemen’s supply chain management team and other divisions of the company. It was a morning designed to connect the Accelerator cohort members with future potential business to help them take their businesses to the next level of success.
The morning’s programme started with networking over coffee and refreshments, giving the Lionesses of Africa/Siemens Accelerator cohort members the opportunity to give each other moral support and encouragement as they prepared for the morning’s presentations. The programme commenced in earnest with a safety briefing, followed by a welcome from Celiwe Zwane, representing Siemens, followed by the showing of a short video called 24 Hours of Ingenuity. Next to give a welcome and share Siemens’ strategic approach to supplier development in the group was Siemens Executive Management representative, Rita Nkuhlu, who gave an insightful overview of the programme and the opportunities it could represent for women entrepreneurs who have gone through the Lionesses of Africa/Siemens Accelerator programme. Also representing Siemens on the morning’s programme was Thabang Byl who gave an overview of the Digitalization programme underway in the group.
Next on the morning’s programme and giving a few inspirational words of encouragement to all the graduating Accelerator cohort members was Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken. She spoke about the journey of creating the programme in partnership with Siemens and the aims and aspirations for the programme on the part of the cohort members. She also shared insights on the next phase of the journey for the graduating women entrepreneurs, including their mentoring programme for the next 12 months as part of Lionesses of Africa’s partnership with the Cherie Blair Global Women’s Mentoring Programme. Joining Melanie in congratulating the cohort members on their successful graduation from the programme was Karen Wessels, the Lionesses of Africa Accelerator Program Director. She shared her very personal insights on watching the growth of the individual women entrepreneurs on the programme, week by week, celebrating their growth in confidence and their coming together as a mini community to lift one another up to greater heights in their businesses.
The highlight of the Pitch Day was obviously when each of the women entrepreneurs graduating got the opportunity to pitch their businesses, products and services to the audience in just 2 minutes. They each rose to the challenge, giving passion driven presentations and engaging the audience as they looked to connect with potential decision-makers at Siemens for future business. The women entrepreneurs pitching on the day included: Anna Ncube, TTT Business Solutions; Carmen Williams, Trecento; Cindy Leah, The African Pictionary; Didintle Motsuenyane, Mamoeticon; Dorothy Mofomme, Valotech; Hlengiwe Moepe, Marpemed; Jayshree Padayatchey, JRP Socder Projects; Kabwe Mulolo, Construct Exec; Lebogang Mphago, Brandneue Media; Lethumusa Kulube, Stractiv8 Digital & Marketing; Liz Bharo, Ostaro Studio; Lorraine Nkuna, Placement Junction; Nosipo Bekani, Frontline; Nthabiseng Dube, Polish Management; Ntsoaki Kortjass, Tsoabelo Security Solutions; Olga Munfangepfupfu, CM Solutions; Piliswa Qamata, Masakheni Isizwe Mining & Construction; Pumza Ndlotyeni, Gebane Investments; Pumzq Mthethwa, Brandties; Seymone Moodley, Malteez Digital; Shaheema Adams, CEX Lab; Shamilah Damons, Shammah Innovative Solutions; Linda Zuze, Chimango Research; Tshego Monaisa, Mona Lisa Productions; Winnie Mulli, Strawberry Connect; Zamswazi Mfusi, Indilang; and Zandile Ntlokwana, Asahke Zibula Holdings.
Another highlight of the morning was the sharing of success stories and the entrepreneurial journeys of some of the Black Women Owned Enterprises who are currently doing business with Siemens. First up to share her story and answer interview questions posed by Celiwe Zwane and Rita Nkuhlu was Lebo Mocheku, ceo of Diphuti Innovative Solutions, a company currently working with C&I Medupi Power Station. She had some powerful and personal insights to share on building her company and doing business with big and complex customers such as Siemens. Lebo was followed by the unique story of the Siemens fabric, inspired by digital geolocator maps and printed onto Siemens conference bags and other items. A video was shown on the fabric production story, followed by an in-person interview with Legae Larona from Alexandra, one of the women entrepreneur beneficiaries from the community making the bags from this uniquely printed fabric.
The final presentation of the morning came from Takalani Tambani representing the Black Industrialists Forum, who gave a presentation on the government’s strategic and policy driven approach to growing and supporting the next generation of black industrialists in South Africa. A Q & A session followed, with Takalani answering questions posed by the women entrepreneurs participating in the pitch session.
The morning ended with closing remarks from Celiwe Zwane and Melanie Hawken, and a call to action to big businesses such as Siemens, and other public and private sector enterprises to support women entrepreneurs at all stages of their journeys. A photo-call and a networking lunch rounded off what had been a successful and inspirational morning.
Commenting on the success of the programme, Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, said: “It has been quite a learning and development journey for these women entrepreneurs, all of whom are now set to take their businesses to the next level. But this is only the start - their year-long mentoring programme now begins and their relationship building with big business entities such as Siemens and their partner network now also starts. Each of these women entrepreneurs are poised to really fulfill their potential, and it will be a privilege to watch them grow and thrive.”
To find out more about each of the women entrepreneurs who graduated from the Lionesses of Africa/Siemens Accelerator programme, visit www.lionessesofafrica/accelerator