"It's better to be a lioness for a day than a sheep all your life!"
The Edit Daily and Melanie Today are the personal blogs of Lionesses of Africa's founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken. They feature community news, opinion, and commentary on a wide range of topics of interest to today’s women entrepreneurs on the African continent. They are your daily must-reads for relevant, thought-provoking entrepreneur news, with the occasional irreverent moment thrown in for good measure.
experiencing a major success streak, and wonders if it is ever going to happen to you? Or perhaps you feel you may have left things too late and the best is already behind you, then here’s the good news. According to a fascinating study from Northwestern University in the US which has just been published, it is never too late to hit your peak. That incredible hot streak of success that you crave may still be ahead of you, and age is not an issue. “The traditional way of thinking is that once you pass 45 years old, the chance for a breakthrough is lower,” said Dashun Wang, associate professor of management and organizations. This is simply not the case. Your hot streak “can be with equal probability your very first work, your very last work, or somewhere in the middle,” he adds. So, maybe your best time as a woman entrepreneur is still to come.
It is rare to find industry sectors that are dominated by women globally, but the multi-trillion-dollar wellness industry is surely one of those. The rapidly growing wellness movement has seen women entrepreneurs as the driving forces, pioneering new approaches to self-care. They have innovated or created specialist fitness clubs, mind-body care businesses, spas, workplace wellness programmes and are growing the lucrative wellness travel industry. This trend reflects an interesting intersection between women’s empowerment and business, reflected in the surge in women-only health and wellness clubs, and co-working spaces where business and wellness combine. More and more wellness and beauty brands are putting storytelling at the heart of their brand building, with the woman founder’s personal story often driving the business. In Africa, an exciting new generation of women wellness entrepreneurs is emerging, tapping into this global trend. They are creating beauty and wellness products that are for women, by women, harnessing the natural ingredients and know-how unique to the continent, but taking them mainstream. Watch out for many of these proudly African, women driven wellness and beauty brands making their mark in the global marketplace.
As any entrepreneur launching a new startup knows, it can be daunting when you look around you and see what appears to be so much competition and so much noise in the marketplace. Yet there is room for everyone, and as the new entrant to the market, it’s important to find your gap and get yourself noticed for all the right reasons. It starts with building a strong product or service, one that responds to market needs. Any successful brand starts with a great product, with a clear purpose and a strong message as to why customers need it. It’s important to remember that a sustainable brand is built upon that product. You build a great product first, that’s the priority. Building a great brand comes afterwards. Remember, if your product doesn’t work and isn’t needed, then it is worthless - and so is your brand.
Many women entrepreneurs are inspired to start a business because they want to solve a problem or challenge in society. Others turn a passion or a hobby into a business. In both of these situations, often they forget that to be sustainable there has to be an intentional focus on making profits, not just making an impact. It’s okay to solve problems, but the business aspect needs to be a priority too. Creating profitable businesses will ensure that it’s possible to solve even more, and bigger problems. That’s why when starting or growing a business, your plan needs to include a clear strategy for making money from your product or service, and a plan for managing the long-term growth of the business. It may be necessary to consider expanding into other related service or product areas, or it may mean going digital with your business. Whatever the case, you may not have the next five to ten years completely mapped out, but you need to plan where those future profits are going to come from.
Sustainable consumption and production is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. It’s at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development goals. So the concept of a circular economy focused on recycling, reusing and remanufacture, is a direct response to growing concerns about resource scarcity. It raises awareness that business as usual is literally unsustainable. In 2014, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum released a report suggesting that over US$1 trillion a year could be generated for the global economy by 2025, and 100,000 new jobs created within the next five years, if businesses adopted a circular economy approach. The good news is that a new generation of innovative women ecopreneurs in Africa are playing their part. They are successfully linking sustainable business to environmental consciousness and concern for societal well-being. Read our article on some of Africa’s leading women ecopreneurs who are driving the circular economy on the continent.
Sustainable development in Africa is top of mind right now as the UN looks to galvanize the power of partnerships to achieve its key goals. Indeed, SDG Goal 17 specifically aims to Revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, particularly in parts of the world such as Africa. There is much talk about the need for partnerships between big governments and big business. But what is often underestimated is the power of entrepreneurs to be driving forces for sustainable development in Africa, working in partnership with these bigger players. Women entrepreneurs in particular are at the heart of communities, they understand the challenges and the development needs better than anyone, and importantly, they take an innovative approach to finding lasting solutions. What these impact driven women entrepreneurs need is to forge partnerships with big business, governments and development agencies built upon a shared vision, and shared goals to make big change happen. It is precisely these types of partnerships that will deliver on sustainable development objectives in Africa for the long-term.
The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which looks to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path, is once again in focus. And UNESCO, the UN agency actively supporting countries in making this transformative change, has two key priorities - Gender Equality and Africa. UNESCO has recognized that mainstreaming gender equality in all of its programmes will drive real economic and social change, especially on the African continent. What is interesting when looking at the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) is that Africa’s women entrepreneurs are the real agents of social transformation in each of the focused goals. They understand the extended impact chain of the businesses they create. According to the World Bank, women entrepreneurs typically put back 90% of what they make into their communities. They educate their children, they create job opportunities, they look after the environment, and they promote the full participation of women and girls in society. If Africa is to fulfill its Sustainable Development goals, it will be women entrepreneurs who are driving real and lasting social and economic transformation.
How many times do you hear people saying to you, ‘I could never leave my secure 9-5 job for the uncertainty of the entrepreneurship life’? Yet, today as economic challenges are impacting many African countries and big companies inevitably restructure and often downsize to mitigate the impact, there is no such thing as a secure job anymore. So the idea of abandoning the steady paycheck in favour of setting up a new business is perhaps not as crazy as it might once have seemed to many. One of the most common reasons people choose to start their own businesses is to have better control over their lives, to be the ones making the decisions for their futures. It is worth remembering this reason on those days when we question the entrepreneurial path we have taken, and the road gets a little bumpy!
How often in business are you rolling along nicely, on an upward trajectory, with business looking good, and then life throws you a curve ball. All of a sudden, everything you thought looked certain is suddenly in doubt. Your plans which looked great on paper are now looking more like theory than practice. At times like this, it is useful remembering that business is like the stock market. There will be the inevitable ups and downs, but hopefully a positive upward trajectory will happen over time. During the downturns, it is essential to revisit plans, make adjustments for new business conditions, and keep focused and positive. A sustainable business is defined by how it makes it successfully through the challenging periods, not by how it breezes through the good times.
Risk-taking is part of everyone’s entrepreneurial journey - after all, as soon as you set out to take your idea for a business and turn it into what you hope will be a successful enterprise, you are taking a big risk. It means putting your money and dreams where your mouth is, experiencing vast amounts of stress, long hours, lack of sleep, loss of personal and family time, to name but a few of the inevitable consequences of embarking on this crazy journey. But being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean becoming a dare devil, it’s all about taking calculated risks, preparing well for any eventuality, and finding ways to mitigate the possible downsides of your business decisions. An important piece of advice to remember is that while taking risks is definitely something you should do as an entrepreneur, it’s equally important to make sure those risks are calculated and well thought through.
For those of you following our current Lioness On Tour travels as we take our Lioness Lean In events to women entrepreneurs across the African continent. The next part of the tour takes us from Zambia to Zimbabwe. Monday sees Lionesses of Africa arriving in Harare for the first time and we are so excited to finally meet women entrepreneurs there in person and get to know their businesses in this city. It’s going to be a great trip and we will be sharing it with you all through our special series of blog articles and Lioness Radio Show programmes. Also look out for our special feature article this week which showcases some of Zimbabwe’s leading and emerging women entrepreneurs. Prepare to be inspired! If you have booked your ticket for the Lioness Lean In event in Harare on Tuesday 9th October, see you there!
Entrepreneurs are often asked what their unique value proposition is, and why it sets their businesses apart from the competition. And it’s important to identify what makes our products or services different in the marketplace. It’s the ‘secret sauce’ that makes customers take notice of our brands and choose our products over someone else’s. If you haven’t defined your unique value proposition, then here are four tips to help you. Firstly, know your why! Identify why your product or service is needed and what makes it different. Secondly, know your audience. You don’t need to sell to everyone, you just need to know what your specific audience wants and needs and focus on them. Thirdly, buck the trend, don’t do what everyone else is doing, find the gap in the market and provide a product or service that is unique to you. Fourthly, learn from your competitors, don’t repeat their mistakes, and celebrate your uniqueness as a way of separating yourself and your brand from the pack.
There is a myth that says big companies and big government are the solution to the job crisis on the African continent. In fact, just as in other big global economies such as the US, it’s small businesses that will actually employ the most people. In a country such as South Africa which has chronic unemployment (South Africa has had a 20% plus unemployment rate for over two decades), particularly amongst young people, more needs to be done to encourage and support young people to take control of their futures and create their own businesses. This should include support for entrepreneurship skills training and development, access to micro-finance, and support from corporates and government to provide access to market opportunities in the early launch stage. Importantly, if a new generation of young entrepreneurs is to emerge, not just in South Africa but across the African continent, they need to be part of an entrepreneurial community. They need to be mentored by experienced and successful entrepreneurs who can provide advice and guidance. They also need to be connected to other young entrepreneurs for peer-to-peer support. By building a young entrepreneur community that supports itself and is also supported by big business and government, these young business builders will not only survive, they will thrive and contribute to solving the job crisis.
As women, and as entrepreneurs, we instinctively know what our strengths are - the trick is to use those strengths and what makes us unique to our advantage. Yet often, we can be underestimated by other people in business, and sometimes by ourselves - so is this a good or a bad thing? In a recent interview, Sara Blakely, the founder of the successful Spanx apparel brand, spoke about this challenge. In the early days of launching her brand, she wasn’t taken seriously and no-one would give her a chance to get her product into the market. But they underestimated her confidence in what she was creating and her determination to get her product launched, no matter how many hurdles there were to climb over. Today, the Spanx brand is a huge global retail success story, and Sara is America’s first self-made female billionaire. Proof positive that you should never underestimate a woman entrepreneur.
More and more entrepreneurs are looking to collaborate in order to move their businesses forward into new and exciting directions. And having a collaborative mindset is definitely the future of business. There are so many benefits to collaborating as entrepreneurs. Firstly, new ideas and opportunities arise from the cross-pollination of individual expertise. Secondly, collaboration is a great tool for extracting the best out of everyone for a greater outcome. Thirdly, collaboration makes everyone think differently and with open minds to find the right solution to a challenge. Recently, we launchedLioness CoLab, a platform developed to bring attention to the great collaborations currently taking place between women entrepreneurs in our community. We have seen some wonderful collaborations emerging, with women bringing their specialist skills and expertise together to create new and exciting new products and innovations. They are a great example of how we can go ‘Further, Together!’
The great, late Kofi Anan famously said, “Information and freedom are indivisible.” And this holds true for Africa’s millions of aspiring women entrepreneurs, particularly young women. They have a right to be able to access all the information and resources they need to launch their startup dreams. We must create the resources and safe spaces for them to learn, to start conversations, to show support for one another and to tell their amazing stories. The Internet is the powerful enabler that allows us to do this. We can deliver entrepreneur information and education, manage meet up groups, make connections, give advice, find mentors, network, and so much more, in a positive and safe environment designed exclusively for women. Pleasingly, the pool of resources and information available to Africa’s women entrepreneurs, to help them advance their business, is getting increasingly deeper. And, importantly many of these resources are available for free online. So, as we celebrate the UN International Day for Universal Access to Information let’s all think about how we can contribute and better share information and help power the next generation of women entrepreneurs across Africa.
There's a saying that goes, “The fortune is in the follow-up.” Ask any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you that one of the most important and impactful activities is following up with customers. And it makes sense! It’s said that a typical customer will need to hear from you an average of seven times before they finally decide to make a purchase. Seven times! That’s why following up is key to success. Remember that great customer service and prompt follow-up has the potential to influence a customer’s overall experience with your company. It affects the way they feel about your business; it affects their decision-making; and it can result in that all important sale. So make sure your follow-ups are taken seriously as part of your business processes.
It’s always a great feeling when you get a customer referral from a fellow woman entrepreneur. It’s recognition that you are doing something right. But more importantly, it is a great example of the power of community - of women entrepreneurs supporting one another on their business building journeys. When you recommend a great product or service that you have experienced from another woman entrepreneur, the chances are that in the future, it will be reciprocated. By encouraging your customers to support other women owned businesses and products that complement your own, you are helping to create a real sense of community. One where everyone is committed to creating a great, shared customer experience - and where everyone wins!
Entrepreneurs and their businesses are seeing tangible and rapid improvements as a result of digital transformation. According to the 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight Survey, half of small business owners in the United States foresee a complete transition to digital payments in the next five years. And here is the good news, it is women who are leading the charge in using mobile devices to process payments and manage other transactions. The survey found that 33 percent of women entrepreneurs use a mobile device to process digital financial transactions, compared to 26 percent of men. They accepting more mobile payments from customers (71 percent of women versus 65 percent of men), and they pay their employees using mobile payments (19 percent of women versus 14 percent of men). Women entrepreneurs are also ahead of the curve in managing other aspects of their business on their mobile devices, including social media updates and hiring. It is good to see women harnessing the power of digital to help their businesses succeed.
Taking that first big step to starting a business is always a big decision to make for any young woman entrepreneur. And the importance of role models in helping them to make the leap should not be underestimated. Seeing other women succeed in building their businesses and brands is vital. As is being able to watch and learn from them at a practical level. Even more importantly for these young women entrepreneurs is having the opportunity to connect with their role models, to ask for advice and mentorship. Research indicates that for many young women entrepreneurs, their start-up decision was influenced by seeing their role models succeed - and, showing what is possible. Many would not have the confidence to embark on an entrepreneurial path without such positive examples in their lives.
There was a time when investors simply looked at a balance sheet and focused on a business’s ability to achieve a return on investment in the shortest space of time. Today, things are much more complex. Investment decisions are made by also taking into account the ability of the business to make money and make a difference. It’s all about creating impact and benefitting humankind at the same time. Investors want to see their money working for them and for the world. So if you are looking to pitch your business to potential investors, ensure your social impact goals are also clearly defined. And ensure you research the philanthropic or corporate social responsibility goals of the investors you are trying to reach, and ensure your own goals align with theirs. It will improve your chances of making that all important connection.
We’ve all heard about the entrepreneur overnight success stories that apparently happen to the lucky few - and we like the idea of it. But in reality, it’s just a myth. For entrepreneurs there’s no such thing as an overnight success! It takes years of hard work, tough times, sacrifice, and so much more, before all that effort hopefully pays off. Read the interviews with entrepreneurial legends such as Richard Branson and Elon Musk, to name but a few, and they will talk about the years of failure and frustration before success was achieved. An overnight success in reality takes around 7 to 10 years to actually happen - if you are lucky! It’s something to remember during those difficult times in our business journeys. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have been through similar tough experiences. They know that the road to success comes from navigating the ups and downs, and being in it for the long haul. As Leo Tolstoy once said, “Great achievements take time, there is no overnight success.”
As entrepreneurs, we all know that feeling - when despite putting in all the time, effort and passion into our businesses, we still get the inevitable rejections. And, it can be absolutely confidence crushing and fatiguing, no matter how long you have been in business. But the fact is, as an entrepreneur, you are going to encounter rejection - it’s part of the journey. You have to learn how to deal with it and move on without dwelling on it. Some people cope with rejection really well. They walk away, but they learn from it. Others find it harder - and it can hold them back. So how do you deal with rejection as a woman entrepreneur? Remember that you are not alone - entrepreneurs around the world are experiencing the same pain as you. So, if rejection is getting you down, reach out to another woman entrepreneur for a coffee and a chat - swop your rejection stories, exchange experiences, and share that pain with someone who knows what you are going through. It will make you stronger.
Agriculture currently accounts for 32% of GDP in Africa, offering the greatest potential for poverty alleviation and job creation. A recent research report by KPMG and the UN Global Compact highlighted that increasing the participation of small and medium sized agribusinesses in value chains advanced sustainable development. It also pointed to the need to create more local value added goods, to meet the fast-growing demand in both African and overseas markets. Women entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity to build businesses that transform locally grown raw materials into world class products and brands. They are generating market demand, both at home and abroad, providing sustainable incomes for local farmers and creating new sources of consumers for locally grown products. Women entrepreneurs are tangibly helping to build agriculture value chains across Africa, so when their businesses thrive, so do local agri-communities.
There is a tendency to think that our challenges as women entrepreneurs are unique to ourselves, to our cities and countries, and to our business sectors. But the fact is that, it doesn’t matter where you travel across the African continent or indeed the rest of the world, the business challenges we are experience tend to be just the same. As we continue to tour Africa’s business capitals with our Lioness Lean In events, meeting with really inspirational women business builders along the way, we hear the same challenges being honestly discussed. These range from getting access to capital, to accessing new markets, to juggling work and family commitments, to training and developing people, to name but a few. So as women entrepreneurs, whether we are building our businesses in Lagos or Lilongwe, Maputo or Lusaka, we can all learn from one another, share our experiences and insights, help each other along our journeys. That’s the power of belonging to a community of like-minded women entrepreneurs, and remembering that we go Further, Together!
As global economies are seeing their fair share of challenges right now, Africa’s growing business opportunities and strong economic growth are not only catching the attention of investors and big businesses. It seems the continent is becoming an attractive startup destination for women entrepreneurs in the African Diaspora too. This growing sense of optimism in Africa’s economic potential is backed up by some strong facts and figures. The IMF predicts that seven of the world's fastest-growing economies over the next five years will be in Africa; Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria, are all expected to expand by more than 6% a year. And women entrepreneurs who have been living and working abroad are increasingly looking to return and contribute to the continent’s future socio economic success story. They come armed with a wealth of experience, global insights, specialist business building skills, and above all plenty of passion. The future looks bright for women-led businesses across the Continent.
Walk down global high streets or shopping malls at the moment and you will see a change beginning to happen. The appearance of newer, smaller, independent brands and stores beginning to appear. And it’s backed by an interesting trend that is being driven by a desire for a different type of consumer experience. These niche, small business retailers have a competitive advantage on their bigger, better capitalized, globally driven retailers - and that’s their personal touch. And it’s precisely this approach to seeing every customer as an individual, that is reshaping the retail landscape. The next big predicted trend in the retail space is that small is beautiful again, with a focus on personal, customer centric experiences that take place in both physical and digital retail spaces. It’s less about what is sold, and instead how you sell it. Market analysts attribute this retail shift to smaller niche player being seen as more authentic, connecting to local growers and value chains, and the power of story telling.
The growth of e-commerce in Africa is providing new and exciting opportunities to connect buyers with sellers, and proudly African-made products with global markets. Importantly it is also reducing the barriers to cross border trade on the continent. Women entrepreneurs are beginning to tap into the power of digital, connecting their businesses with important retail opportunities pan-Africa and globally. The flexibility of e-commerce also empowers women to build businesses that can fit around home and work life, bringing not just financial independence but also creative and personal freedom. The rise of this She-Commerce business environment is also inspiring a new generation of young women to consider digital entrepreneurship to drive their own economic futures. This new digitally empowered generation have a much clearer roadmap to financial and business independence. They see e-commerce as a “Minimum investment, Maximum profit” business model that can bring them both lifestyle and economic rewards.
Research continues to show there is a clear confidence gap that remains between men and women entrepreneurs. As a result, this causes women to be more averse to taking risks in business, which could be restricting their growth. But there is an upside to this confidence gap. Although women don’t take as many risks, they are better at assessing them. They recognize that the stakes are high, particularly in Africa. Women start businesses to feed their families, to educate their children, to support their communities, and to contribute to the social and economic development of their countries. They recognise that their success in business is part of a much longer impact value chain. So the upside of the confidence gap is that when women do make the decision to go into business, they plan and prepare for success and profitability, even though the road to get there may be slower. The good news is that with work, confidence can be acquired, self doubt can be diminished, and women entrepreneurs can become better at taking calculated risks that pay off in the long term.
Have you noticed how entrepreneurs who do well in business often challenge the ‘status quo’, pushing boundaries or redefining business sectors and industries? These disruptive entrepreneurs are good at spotting new opportunities in the marketplace, and then changing the rules that exist around them. They also grow their workforces at a much faster rate than their more conventional competitors. Research suggests that the most disruptive entrepreneurs who have changed all or many of the rules in their business sector, were 58% more likely to increase their overall workforce. These findings send a clear message to others. Going forward, businesses that are not embracing innovation and disruption risk being left behind. Why? Because disruptive entrepreneurs are laser-focused on driving growth and building strong businesses by attracting the best workforce talent. And that’s why disruptive entrepreneurs create jobs.
In a few days time, the winners of this year’s Anzisha Prize will be announced, Africa’s biggest award for the youngest, brightest entrepreneurs on the continent. The award celebrates innovation and looks to recognize and encourage a new generation of young business builders in Africa. It is a reminder, not that one should be needed, that our young people are the future and we should be encouraging them to think more entrepreneurially. We need more young women in particular to consider starting a business that can change not only their own lives, but those around them in their communities and in their families. We should be educating and informing them to consider entrepreneurship as a first choice, not a last resort. They should have access to strong women role models who are successfully building businesses that are making a real difference on the continent. So when we see the bright young winners of this year’s Anzisha Prize being celebrated, let’s use it as a source of inspiration for the thousands of young women in Africa who are waiting to turn their dreams into business realities.
This morning finds me in beautiful Gaborone, Botswana on the latest stop on our Lioness Lean In Tour across the African continent. One of the topics I will be focusing on during my visit will be the importance of collaboration between women entrepreneurs in different countries. Our motto at Lionesses of Africa is Further, Together, and I am a passionate believer in the power of collaboration to get things done, particularly when it comes to breaking into new markets or creating new products. But collaborating can be a real challenge for many women entrepreneurs, and finding other like-minded people to collaborate with can also be difficult. This is when it’s great to belong to a community, where you can connect with people who have a shared vision and goals, and who understand hat we are definitely stronger, together, in business and in life. So my fellow lionesses, let’s be more open to collaborations with each other. Let’s innovate together, bringing our complementary skills to the table. And let’s build a bright entrepreneurial future together as women entrepreneurs.
While reading a number of articles this past weekend on the subject of sustainability trends in key business sectors, I remembered a quote by design icon Dame Vivienne Westwood, whose mantra is: “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.” She really understands the importance of shifting consumer attitudes and perceptions towards valuing fewer, higher quality products, which can command higher prices and result in lower impact on the environment. The fashion industry has increasingly come under scrutiny and criticism for its throwaway approach to clothing manufacture, which has a devastating carbon footprint. Today, attitudes are slowly beginning to change with customers becoming interested in durable design, created by passionate artisans with interesting and personal backstories rather than faceless factories. This trend is creating new opportunities for customization, with a return to bespoke, made to measure clothing that reflects the wearer’s personality. This is great news for the thousands of talented women design entrepreneurs across the African continent who have been building their businesses and their reputations based on this approach for years. Their time has come!
Today I have fashion on my mind! It’s because it’s the height of the fashion showcase season across the African continent this month and I am hearing lot’s of good things about the talented women fashion entrepreneurs in the Lionesses of Africa community who are taking their latest collections to the runways. SA Fashion Week and Lagos Fashion Week both start next week, two important showcase events. Interestingly, the business of fashion is taking centre-stage at this year’s Lagos Fashion Week as this year’s theme is titled ‘The Importance of Platforms’. Discussions will be taking place about how fashion entrepreneurs need to leverage various retail and digital platforms to get their brands and their collections out to market. It’s about catalyzing economic growth by maximizing opportunities and platforms to connect products and brand messages to customers across the African continent and beyond.
This weekend saw one of the highlights of Africa’s contemporary artisan design scene with the annual Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Once again, the event highlighted the importance of celebrating and showcasing some of the most innovative makers and crafters on the continent, many of them women entrepreneurs. The theme of the event, ‘A Return to Making’, echoed the growing global trend towards artisan entrepreneurship. Visit any major city around the world right now and you are more likely to see independent artisan brands and businesses emerging and tapping into a growing, increasingly conscious, customer base. Africa’s talented and innovative women artisan brand builders are well positioned to take advantage of this trend, accessing not just local but also powerful global markets with their world class products.
Never underestimate the power of women entrepreneurs to turn opportunities into business. This morning, my email inbox was bursting at the seams following my trip this week to Harare in Zimbabwe to launch our Lioness Lean In events in the country. It was wonderful to hear the feedback from women who had attended the event who were now connecting with fellow women business builders and collaborating or doing business. This is what we are passionate about at Lionesses of Africa - we partner with visionary big companies who want to see economies thrive in Africa, and we create the opportunities for women entrepreneurs to meet and do business. But it’s worth remembering that success depends on how we maximize those opportunities and turn them into action and ultimately business.
As I travel around the African continent, meeting incredible women entrepreneurs, one key question keeps coming up in conversation. How do we get access to new market opportunities and new clients for our businesses? And it is a key challenge for so many of us. If our businesses and products are not visible, it is hard to be noticed in the marketplace. We need to take every opportunity to put ourselves, our businesses, and our products and services out there - to get people talking. That’s why at Lionesses of Africa, we encourage all of you to use our platforms to showcase your businesses. Start by sharing your Startup Story and get your business connected with thousands of our readers across the African continent and the Diaspora. If you are launching a new product or service, tell us about it and we will showcase it on our powerful Lioness Launch platform. If you are trying to break into a new country market, then be part of our Lioness Lean In event programmes across the African continent. Remember, you are part of a fast growing community of women entrepreneurs across the African continent, and that’s a powerful marketplace.
Have yourself an inspired entrepreneurial day! - Melanie
What a week this has been in Harare, Zimbabwe and what an amazing community of tenacious and driven women entrepreneurs I met at our first Lioness Lean In event there. The country may be going through challenging economic times once again right now, but I have no doubt that these women business builders are going to be the real change-makers going forward. There was a spirit of mutual support, of cooperation, and a real appreciation of the fact that as women entrepreneurs, we are stronger, together and go further, together. On a personal level, I am looking forward to being back in Zimbabwe again very soon and to bringing each and every one of these impact-driven women entrepreneurs into our Lionesses of Africa community where we can support them on their journeys. Thank you Lionesses of Harare for the difference you are making!
Entrepreneurship means continually looking for new opportunities, inventing new things, pushing boundaries and breaking into exciting new markets. That’s why this morning, we are in Harare, Zimbabwe, to meet with some of the country’s most successful and up-and-coming women entrepreneurs. We look forward to showcasing them and connecting their businesses, products and services to our Lionesses of Africa community around the continent. We are excited because there is a great entrepreneurial spirit in Zimbabwe, and some truly game-changing women entrepreneurs who are creating significant businesses here. It’s going to be a morning of inspiration and some major networking is in store. We can’t wait to get going - let’s Lioness Lean In Harare!
How many of you reading this article this morning can remember one of those conversations with a close friend or loving family member who asks you if you have made the right decision, becoming an entrepreneur? My guess is the majority of you will have experienced such questions at some time or other. It is usually when you are going through tough times, when cashflow and customers dry up, or when you have not had a holiday or a weekend off in months or years! At times like these, you need to become your own best cheerleader. Remember that being an entrepreneur is always challenging, it can indeed be stressful, and it will test your resilience a lot of the time. However, on those days when things do go right, when you win that new contract or client, and when your new product or service is launched and clients love it, then you remember why you embarked on this crazy journey in the first place.
Have yourself an inspired entrepreneurial day! - Melanie