At the first Lioness Lean In event to be held in Durban, South Africa, this year, the city’s women entrepreneurs representing businesses both large and in startup phase, gathered for a morning of inspiration, great networking, and story sharing. As always, it was great to be back in the city, seeing like-minded women entrepreneurs sharing their experiences and making important business connections.
The beautiful backdrop of the Fairmont Zimbali Resort in Ballito was the chosen venue for the Durban Lioness Lean In event, and hosts Volkswagen South Africa pulled out all the stops to ensure it was a morning to remember for all the women entrepreneurs attending. After breakfast networking where women got to know one another and their businesses, products and services, the morning’s programme got underway formally. Hlubi Mboya-Arnold, the Lioness Lean In Ambassador Southern Africa Region, kickstarted the morning’s programme with an introduction to the work and mission of Lionesses of Africa to empower and support 1 million women entrepreneurs across the African continent by end 2018. Hlubi then introduced her co-host for the morning, the inspirational Emma Demmer, Dealer Principal for McCarthy Volkswagen Umhlanga, who took the opportunity to share her own personal business story.
A Lioness Lean In event is all about sharing our experiences as women entrepreneurs; it’s about sharing our business building journeys; it’s talking about our challenges, our highs and lows; and inspiring one another. So it was appropriate to start the programme by celebrating one of the Lionesses of Africa Heroines of the Month, women entrepreneurs who are making a big impact with their businesses on the African continent. This week, it was the turn of Sarah Collins, founder of Wonderbag, who has just been selected as one of Forbes Africa’s 20 Women New Wealth Creators, to be celebrated and acknowledged for her impactful work on the continent.
The programme got underway in the usual inspirational way with the invitation of some of the most interesting and inspirational women entrepreneurs from the Lionesses of Africa community to come and share their startup stories with attendees. They came from a wide range of business sectors, they were all at different stages of their entrepreneurial journeys, but they all shared one thing in common - they were building businesses and brands that are exciting and on the move
The first startup story came from Varsha Parbhoo, founder of Finance 360. Varsha is a specialist in how to manage your finances as an entrepreneur, ensuring you and your company grows, and that your money works for you. For all those attendees struggling with their finances in business, they got the opportunity to listen and learn from a real expert. Varsha recently was one of the expert presenters on the Lionesses of Africa Accelerator programme, helping our cohort of 30 high growth potential women entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level.
The next guest speaker was Caron van Wyk, founder of Trestle, a unique furniture and home interior accessory manufacturer and online retailer. Her business started with the design of a stylish trestle table, hence the company’s name, and grew from there. She shared her unique retail brand building story with attendees and of course, introduced them to the wonderful range of products she creates for her customers, for both the office and the home.
The third guest speaker was Fathima Kathrada, founder of Fathima’s Studio, a talented graphic designer, illustrator, and an expert in the field of hand lettering. She has built a business around her creativity and she brings life and dynamism to any design and illustration brief she is given by her clients. He work is beautiful and importantly for the brands and businesses she consults to, memorable.
Following some lively question and answer sessions with each of the guest speakers, the most popular feature in our Lioness Lean In event programme came next - Lioness Launch. It’s the time when women entrepreneurs who are launching great collaborations and creating new products and services that you should know about, or introducing you to great businesses and brands that you should get to know, are introduced to the audience in a pitch session environment. The session started with a presentation on some of the women entrepreneurs launching great new products this month from across the African continent - these included:
Daisy Handmade Soap - Mozambique - Cristina Rocha has just launched a brand new range of handmade soaps as gift items, all displayed in natural coconut soap dishes, all created with job creation and skills development in mind for her growing team.
Chabana Farms - Botswana - Mavis Nduchwa has just launched a new natural honey production facility as part of her highly successful agribusiness, which now produces and retails the finest honey to discerning customers.
UniQBrows - South Africa - Unaiza Sulaiman has just launched her new business and a great new growth serum for those struggling, hair challenged brows.
Elim Spa Products - South Africa - The founder of this renowned spa product brand, Shantelle Booysen, has just launched a new UV Spritzer range to protect delicate hands, and is retailing in major spas across the country and into Europe.To round off the Lioness Launch feature, two great women entrepreneurs who are launching new products and services here in Durban this month were invited to come up on stage to introduce their new products. Firstly, Kristi Kyle, founder of specialist clothing company, Love Long Clothing. Kristi, shared news of her new collections at the great Love Long Clothing brand. Next, the second guest who shared news of the great new products she is launching this month was Jaclyn Holmes, founder of the wonderful children’s brand Schnooky Pie. She shared news of the new Shark story inspired collection of Onesies created for young children who want to look both fun and trendy whilst playing at home. The ever popular Lioness Launch feature then invited 5 women entrepreneurs from the audience to come up and introduce their new products and services they are launching - in just 1 minute each. The Volkswagen South Africa team selected those women entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses, and as always, it proved to be a roaring success.
Host for the morning, Hlubi Mboya Arnold, then returned to the stage to announce news of a new Lionesses of Africa collaboration with Stanford University to introduce an exciting new entrepreneur development programme for Africa’s high growth potential entrepreneurs called Stanford SEED. The programme was launched to the Lionesses of Africa network in Lusaka, Zambia the previous week and the programme call for applications is now being launched across the continent, with applications welcomed from South Africa to coincide with the Durban Lioness Lean In event. The Stanford Seed programme is a specialist and highly focused development programme that really helps high growth potential businesses take the leap to the next level, and importantly helps to build a global business.
Hlubi then informed attendees of how they could join the Lionesses of Africa community and start accessing all the free tools and resources available. She highlighted such powerful communications platforms and tools such as the Good Morning Lionesses daily newsletter, The Mix weekly digital magazine, the Lioness Radio Show, and much more. Closing remarks were made by Emma Demmer, Dealer Principal for McCarthy Volkswagen Umhlanga and thanks were given to the wonderful speakers, to our impact partner Volkswagen South Africa for making the event possible, and, of course, to all the women entrepreneurs who took the decision to spend their valuable time at the event.
The morning wrapped up with the usual and much anticipated Prize Giveaway, with some wonderful prizes donated by each of the guest speakers and by Volkswagen South Africa. A final networking session brought another successful and inspirational Lioness Lean In event to a close.
For more information on the Lioness Lean In programme of events across the African continent, visit www.lionessesofafrica.com/events