On a beautiful morning in the district of Leribe, Lesotho’s leading women entrepreneurs arrived in style at the Mahlakapese Guest Lodge to connect with one another and to be inspired by a packed and inspirational Lioness Lean In programme ahead.
At the first Lioness Lean In event in Lesotho this year, cohosted by Lionesses of Africa and Standard Lesotho bank, the atmosphere was lively as women entrepreneurs who represent some of the most established businesses in the country got together to share, inspire and connect. MC for the morning, Hlubi Mboya-Arnold, Lioness Lean In Ambassador Southern Africa, commented how it was great for Lionesses of Africa to be back in this beautiful country. She welcomed attendees with an introduction to the morning’s programme. She shared with them how they would enjoy a great morning of inspirational startup story sharing, connecting for business success, and networking with like-minded women entrepreneurs to share experiences and gain support. She also informed them of the opportunity to support local women entrepreneurs who were invited to showcase their locally produced goods as part of the entrepreneur marketplace.
Hlubi then took the opportunity to thank the impact partner for the Lioness Lean In event in the country, Stanbic Lesotho Bank. She explained that at Lionesses of Africa, we work with our impact partners to make real change happen in the lives of women entrepreneurs. The Lioness Lean In events play an important role in how we share, inspire and connect with women business builders across the continent. So, it was a pleasure to once again welcome Stanbic Lesotho Bank on board as a key partner in the country for the Lioness Lean In events this year.
Hlubi’s co-host for the morning was Lineo Tsikoane, founding director of the Seinoli Legal Center in Lesotho, who gave a few words of welcome and introduced the first Standard Lesotho Bank guest speaker for the morning, Nthabeleng Mpharoe, Manager Card Issuing at the bank. She gave a short introduction to the bank’s activities and initiatives to support women-owned businesses in Lesotho.
Hlubi then returned to the speaker platform to give an introduction to Lionesses of Africa’s big focus for the next few years - supporting women entrepreneurs as drivers of job creation on the continent. She spoke about how research estimates point to Africa needing to create 50,000 jobs each day, just to stay still. She reminded the audience that the top four job creating sectors for women entrepreneurs in Africa are in the Agri, Artisan Enterprise, Fashion, and Beauty & Wellness sectors. These sectors provide an exciting and growing opportunity for women entrepreneurs to create world class products, businesses and brands that are starting to gain market appeal at home and abroad. Hlubi also shared key findings of the major business trends being seen in the Lionesses of Africa network this year, including: the massive growth potential of e-Commerce, with local solutions being found for the last mile, payment gateways, and the integration of Africa’s preferred payment channels; the Micro-multinational phenomenon, a new generation of women brand builders who are going global with their businesses from the outset; women entrepreneurs who are working to resolve Africa’s commodity trap by building brands that leverage Africa’s natural resources - such as agri, beauty and wellness; the growth of artisan enterprises and the Maker/Handcrafted economy in Africa; and the explosion in Proudly African products that are making waves around the continent and the world. These trends indicate that the future looks bright as more and more women entrepreneurs are contributing to the growth of the African economy and in particular to key business sectors.
Kickstarting the morning’s programme in earnest was the first of three guest speakers, all women entrepreneurs who are leaders in their fields of business. First to share her startup story and experiences was Mrs Mareitumetse Khoaeane, founder of Lehakoe Design and Garments, a leading garment designer and manufacturer in Lesotho. Next to the speaker podium was Mrs Maprince Phothane, co-founder and director of Likhothola Fruit Farmers Company, founder of a successful horticultural business that supplies leading supermarket chains with specialist fruit. The final guest speaker for the morning to share her own unique business startup story was Mrs Mapho Tjabane, founder of Florratt Cosmetics, an international cosmetics manufacturing business.
After sharing how attendees can access Lionesses of Africa’s tools and resources such as the Good Morning Lionesses daily newsletter, The Mix weekly digital magazine, and the Lioness Radio Show, Hlubi invited all attendees to take a refreshment break and visit the exhibits in the networking area. Following the short break, the programme continued with two executives representing Standard Lesotho Bank. Firstly Mahlompho Mojakhomo, Head of Business Banking, spoke about the range of products and specialist business services support available to women entrepreneurs. Lastly, Selloane Tsike, Head of Personal and Business Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, gave the closing remarks, reinforcing the message that in Lesotho the Standard Lesotho Bank is the financial institution of choice for women entrepreneurs.
The event closed with final remarks from cohost Lineo Tsikoane who thanked attendees for their participation, encouraging them all to make a final visit to the women entrepreneurs being showcased in the marketplace.