Gaborone’s leading women entrepreneurs turned out in force on Friday 19 July to be part of the first Lioness Lean In event in Botswana this year. It was great to be back and the event marked the first of a series of Lioness Lean In collaborations between Lionesses of Africa, Stanbic Bank and Liberty Life Botswana in the country. Over 100 women entrepreneurs in the audience got to experience 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.
The event kicked off with a rousing welcome from Lioness Lean In Ambassador Southern Africa, Hlubi Mboya-Arnold, who told attendees a little more about Lionesses of Africa, the fastest growing community of women entrepreneurs on the African continent. She reminded them that with over 800,000 women entrepreneurs in the network, in all 54 African countries and in the Diaspora - that’s a lot of fellow women entrepreneurs to connect with and do business with. She shared that the vision of Lionesses of Africa is to advance Africa’s women entrepreneurs, by building and delivering entrepreneur development programmes, mentoring programmes, business tools, digital media channels, community platforms, networking events and information resources. Delivered at scale to women entrepreneurs, always free of charge. She informed the audience that Lionesses of Africa is on target to reach its goal of empowering ONE MILLION women entrepreneurs across Africa by end of 2019.
Hlubi also took the opportunity to share some of the biggest women entrepreneur trends on the African continent, giving insights into the sectors that are growing fastest and generating global interest. These included Agri - an important sector in Botswana, Artisan Enterprise, Fashion, Beauty & Wellness, and Tech. She also sent a message from Lionesses of Africa Founder and CEO, Melanie Hawken, who was at the United Nations in New York whilst the event in Botswana was taking place. Melanie was participating in a number of discussions with key role-players about the challenges facing Africa’s women entrepreneurs in accessing finance for their businesses at the critical growth stages, and breaking into global markets for their products and services. Melanie will be sharing some of the insights resulting from those discussions with the Lionesses of Africa community through this month.
Getting the formal part of the programme underway was Jenni Marinelli, who as many members of the audience were aware, is a Board Member at Stanbic Bank and a prominent supporter of women’s economic empowerment through business and entrepreneurship. She inspired the audience with her words of welcome on behalf of the bank.
At all the Lioness Lean In events around the African continent, the most popular part of the programme is when some of the most interesting and inspirational women entrepreneurs from the Lionesses of Africa community in each city come and share their business startup stories. Coming from a wide range of business sectors, these women entrepreneurs are at different stages of their entrepreneurial journeys, but they all share one thing in common - they are building businesses and brands that are exciting and on the move.
The first Lioness Lean In speaker for the morning was Neo Tlhaselo, founder of The Business Kraal, an organisation that promotes entrepreneurship and trade through media. Many of the audience members were familiar with her Business Kraal Radio and Television programme which is well known for covering business and economic issues over the past 6 years. Neo shared her very personal entrepreneurial journey with everyone to much applause.
Next speaker on the programme was the dynamic Lulu Rasebotsa, Managing Director of Liberty Life Botswana who brought her 20 plus years of experience in the financial services industry to the audience. Lulu shared her depth of business knowledge, experience and expertise gained through her position at Liberty Life Botswana, her role sitting on the Board of the South African Business Forum, having been the founding Chairperson; and her extensive range of corporate board memberships. She is on the Board of the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation, Stanlib Botswana and Liberty General Botswana; and was recently appointed onto the Industrial Advisory Board of the Department of Mathematics and Statistical Sciences of BIUST.
One of the most popular features of the Lioness Lean In events is the Lioness Launch, the opportunity to meet and hear about inspirational women entrepreneurs from across the Lionesses of Africa community who are launching new businesses, products and services during the month. Host for the morning, Hlubi Mboya-Arnold gave a presentation on some of the interesting women entrepreneurs launching that week in the Lionesses network, including: Natasha Buchler and Annie Rudnick, founders of Akojo Market, who launched their new pan African digital marketplace for Africa’s design entrepreneurs; Jessica Alily, co-founder of Vanimax Comix, who launched a new South African online comic book creation site; and Jaclyn Holmes, founder of Schnooky Pie, a South African funky children’s wear brand that launched its latest collection. The presentation provided a nice introduction to two live Lioness Launch presentations from leading women entrepreneurs in Botswana.
As part of Lionesses of Africa’s commitment to showcasing Women in Agribusiness, the Lioness Launch presentations on the day came from two leading women agripreneurs who are making a real impact with their businesses, both of which are very different. However, their experiences and the products and services they were launching are a great example of the contribution being made to the economy through women in the agribusiness sector.
The first Lioness Launch Presentation came from Amanda Masire, founder of Greenhouse Technologies. Amanda is a trained Secondary School Teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience who is harnessing all her academic skills and knowledge for the benefit of the agri-sector. Today her business acts as a facilitator to help turn Batswana into commercial farmers. Her MOTTO is The Farmer MUST succeed.
Next came Mavis Nduchwa, founder and ceo of Chabana Farms, and the entrepreneurial powerhouse behind the Chabana Honey Factory and brand in Botswana. Her latest range of naturally scented honeys is winning legions of fans, both at home and around the region. Mavis was the recipient of the Most Outstanding African Entrepreneur Award 2018 from the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and this year sees her take up the role of a BBC judge for the 2019 The Food Chain programme.
The Lioness Launch programme ended with the popular Lioness Launch Open Mike session, providing 5 women entrepreneurs with the opportunity to present their new businesses, products and services to the audience.
The morning’s formal proceedings wrapped up with Hlubi announcing a number of exciting new partnerships and initiatives to support Africa’s women entrepreneurs including: The Generation Africa Competition Launch of the US$100,000 GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize; the Invest2Impact Launch and The 2X Africa SME Challenge Business Competition for Women Entrepreneurs; and the Lionesses of Africa/Cherie Blair Foundation Global Women’s Mentoring Programme New Cohort Nomination Announcement.
Closing remarks were made by Omphemetse Dube, Head Personal Markets at Stanbic Bank Botswana, who took the opportunity to introduce the range of specialist products and services on offer to women entrepreneurs in Botswana. The event closed with more networking and the chance for women entrepreneurs to make new business contacts and share experiences.