A gloomy rainy morning in Johannesburg did not deter a packed audience of 150 women entrepreneurs from gathering together for the September edition of the Lioness Lean In event, held at VWSA headquarters in Sandton. As always the atmosphere was lively, warm and filled with the sound of women doing business, the hallmark of a good Lioness Lean In event.
The morning got underway as always with a great networking breakfast, with attendees enjoying steaming hot cappuccinos and a fabulous buffet, and the opportunity to meet and catch up with fellow women entrepreneurs. The programme started with a welcome from Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa, who took the opportunity to introduce an inspirational musical element, courtesy of the talented singer Nonhlanhla ‘Bahatii’ Sithole, who is also an entrepreneur and founder of Bahatii Productions. Bahatii performed an uplifting song for the audience to get the morning off to a flying start.
Melanie then returned to the podium to outline the work of the organisation for all those first-time attendees at a Lioness Lean In event. She then went on to celebrate women entrepreneurs who have been recognised with awards and accolades this month, including Teresa Lubano, founder of The Nanjala Company, who has recently won E-Commerce Retailer of the Year from the E-Commerce Awards 2019 in Kenya. Also recognised during the morning were Anita Quansah, the inspirational accessory designer and Femi Olayebi, the remarkable handbag designer, both of whom won Fashion’s Finest awards this past month.
Next to the podium was Thandi Mbonwa, Corporate Sales Specialist at Volkswagen SA. A marketing professional at VWSA, Thandi is also an entrepreneur, having opened an online kid’s boutique and party equipment hiring company called Noonooze Kids which has been running for the past two years. She is also the co-founder of a women’s property stokvel called Ingcebo Women’s Investment Group which aims to create generational wealth through property.
The main part of the morning’s programme got underway with Startup Stories being shared by successful women entrepreneurs from Johannesburg. First up was Dr Theo Mothoa, founder of African Dermal Science. She shared her story of creating and building a truly global skincare company that is 100% South African and a black female company, focused on the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of skincare technology-driven solutions addressing the unmet needs of the African population. She introduced her Uso skincare range which is an anti-ageing facial care range targeted at African women.
Next to the speaker podium was Linda Zuze, founder of Chimango Research, who introduced her company’s work which undertakes research projects and initiatives across the African continent. She shared her recent working experiences in different countries and her approach to getting great research and insights done by getting into the heart of communities and populations. She outlined that her work entails research strategy consulting, data analysis, thought leadership, and keynotes/conference participation to share her research findings.
Speaking about building a sustainable and profitable business in the tough mining and construction sectors was Piliswa Schouten, founder of Masakheni Isizwe Mining and Construction. She spoke very personally about what it takes to build an ethical company that does business the right way in a traditionally male dominated industry sector, and shared her effective approach to sales. Her story resonated with and inspired the women entrepreneurs in the audience, many of whom had experienced similar challenges in their own businesses.
The popular Lioness Launch feature came next in the programme, with two women entrepreneurs launching new products and services to the audience. First was Lufuno T Khorommbi, founder of Orizur Consulting Enterprise, who shared her new expert service offering which aims to combat cyber fraud in business. She also gave away a special prize to two women entrepreneurs in the audience, a ticket to her forthcoming Cyber Fraud Conference, and also a free consulting session on tackling cyber fraud.
The next Lioness Launch presentation came from Conny Oberrauter, better known as The Cosmetics Chef. Conny gave a live demonstration to the audience on how to make your own cosmetics at home using everyday ingredients, creating a facial scrub in minutes. She also gave away copies of her book The Cosmetics Chef to three lucky winners in the audience. The session ended with six women entrepreneurs from the audience invited to pitch their new businesses, products and services in the Lioness Launch Open Mike section of the programme.
The morning ended with the always popular Prize Draw, with fabulous prizes donated by the speakers including goodie bags from African Dermal Science, Masakheni Mining and Construction, The Cosmetics Chef, Orizur Consulting Enterprise, and VWSA.
Closing remarks were made by Melanie Hawken who thanked speakers and audience members for their participation and encouraged everyone to support one another in business during tough economic times and to maximize the networking opportunity of the event.