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The First Lionesses Of Africa Conference Gathers Inspirational Women Entrepreneurs From Across Africa

Inspirational women entrepreneurs from across the African continent gather in Johannesburg for the first Lionesses of Africa Conference on 12 October 2016.

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Lionesses of Africa, the social enterprise and digital home for a rapidly growing audience of 200,000+ women entrepreneurs across the African continent, and with a footprint in 36 African countries, is preparing to mark the 2 year anniversary of its launch with an inaugural Conference on 12 October in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This special Lionesses of Africa Conference 2016, held at an equally special venue in beautiful surroundings (The Inanda Club, Johannesburg) aims to bring together around 200 women entrepreneurs from all corners of the continent to share their business building stories, to inspire others with their success, to discuss some of the big issues and challenges facing women entrepreneurs on the continent, and to network.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

Melanie Hawken

Melanie Hawken

Lionesses of Africa Founder and CEO, Melanie Hawken, said of the vision for the Conference:

“We believe the powerful voices and insights of all these inspirational women entrepreneurs from across the African continent and the Diaspora are so important in empowering a new generation of women entrepreneurs who are following in their footsteps. By sharing our combined knowledge and experience, by motivating others through our personal entrepreneurial journeys, and by connecting for greater business success, we can help to create a great new entrepreneurial landscape for women in Africa, one that is full of possibilities.”

The Lionesses of Africa Conference is a full-day event on 12 October 2016, with the theme of ‘Powering a New Era of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Africa’.

The goal is to bring together Africa’s leading women entrepreneurs to discuss some of the major challenges affecting the continued growth and development of women’s entrepreneurship on the continent, to explore possible solutions to some of those challenges, and to celebrate the game-changing women entrepreneurs who are making a difference.’

Lionesses of Africa’s lead sponsor at this inaugural Conference is Standard Bank, Africa’s largest banking group, and its key champion who will be opening the event is Ms Funeka Montjane, Chief Executive Officer, Personal and Business Banking South Africa, Standard Bank. Other impact partners include Liberty Group, GE Africa Innovation Centre, IDF Capital and Telkom FutureMakers.

“Our vision to drive Africa’s growth has been given a boost by Standard Bank Group’s support of women entrepreneurs across the continent through the Lionesses of Africa Conference. It supports the growth and development of women’s entrepreneurship and has an expanding client base of women-owned businesses ranging from start-ups to high-impact and high potential concerns.” says Ms Funeka Montjanea.

“Standard Bank Group has sponsored a series of 20 breakfast events, Lioness Lean In Breakfasts, which will be rolled out in various African countries. We are building real relationships within the entrepreneurial ecosystem across Africa. We’re moving forward. This is not just a partnership; it is a way to get closer to our customers so that we deliver what matters to them, when it matters to them”.

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Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

Standard Bank has been engaging with the woman entrepreneurs through several sponsored events and over the last year over 12 Lioness Lean In events have been held in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. These events have seen hundreds of female entrepreneurs come together, collaborate, share their journeys and become part of a broader community supporting the growth of female entrepreneurs.

Highlights at the Lionesses of Africa Conference will include inspirational keynote speakers, special focus panels with global and regional women entrepreneurs discussing important topics and challenges, the launch of some exciting new initiatives and opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and an Open Innovation Competition launch by GE Africa Innovation Centre.

Some of the leading guest speakers on the 35 person strong Conference programme include: Deola Sagoe, the Queen of African Haute Couture and founder of Deola in Nigeria; Dr Ola Orekunrin, the inspirational founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria; Margaret Hirsch, co-founder of the mega-successful retail business Hirsch’s Homestores in South Africa; Adele Dejak, groundbreaking jewellery designer and founder of Adele Dejak in Kenya; Akosua Afriyyie Kumi, the multi-award-winning accessory designer and founder of AAKS Ghana; and Angela Dick, founder of the hugely successful Transman in South Africa; plus many, many more.

The Conference will end with a wonderful cocktail party in the grounds of the Inanda Club, co-hosted with Standard Bank, and featuring a showcase of luxury products created by some of Africa’s leading women entrepreneurs and fashion designers, all beautifully curated and with their creators in attendance to share their stories and inspiration with guests.

Some great entertainment from DJ Thalia performing a collaboration with a live saxophonist Ayo, combined with cocktails inspired by and made from wines and spirits produced by some of South Africa’s leading women entrepreneurs in the field, will all add to creating a memorable event.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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FNB Sets Its Sights On Growing Female Entrepreneurs In South Africa

First National Bank looks to grow women entrepreneurship in South Africa.

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FNB has set its sights on growing women owned and led businesses in South Africa, a commitment that has seen the bank enter into partnerships to facilitate mentorship for some of the most promising enterprises.

The bank has a good foundation to build on, as 38% of all new business accounts opened with FNB Business are either led or owned by women, highlighting an already established entrepreneurial momentum.

“We are cognisant of the fact that neither government nor corporate South Africa are going to be the sole sources of job creation. We therefore have an obligation to support and grow entrepreneurship. Partnerships such as the one entered into with International Finance Corporation (IFC) enables us to assist in developing women owned business,” says Michelle Geraghty, Head of Women in Business at FNB Business.

Over the last few years, FNB has, through a partnership with the Vumela Fund, assisted businesses such asSAIL, a leading skills and training institute that offers a range of qualifications to the public sector, and Toni Glass who produce a collection of world class tea, to not only scale effectively, but to bolster each of the business’s offering to market.

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

“Our approach is to, much like we have done with the likes of Sail and Tony Glass, enable qualifying women owned businesses in their growth curve by offering help that includes transact, lending, investing and insuring solutions. This will include facilitating the registration of the business online via the FNB registrations system which links to CIPC, to Instant accounting and payroll solutions aimed at reducing operating costs for the business. This will also extend to support in the incubation stage of selected businesses through Vumela. We will carry this right through to private equity funding,” explains Geraghty.

Vumela was established as an innovative model that is aimed at filling the gaps in the current SME funding and support landscape. While Vumela is an SME growth fund, it also functions as the bank’s primary Enterprise Development and Supply Development vehicle, able to fulfil both SME funding and growth needs, and corporate ESD requirements, avenues that FNB will be making use of.

FNB also intends on tracking jobs created through these initiatives to ensure a trickledown effect that not only benefits the business owner but also increases the overall number of women participating in business in South Africa.

“The need to grow the number of women in business is one that if done correctly, can address many of the disparities and anguish that women continuously face. Access to fair opportunities to grow their businesses and in turn make a real impact on the South African economy,” concludes Geraghty.

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Great Bunch Of Entrepreneurs Make Top 10 In The Workspace/MiWay Competition

The top 10 in The Workspace/MiWay entrepreneur competition have been selected.

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After an intense four-month process, the top 10 contenders in The Workspace/MiWay Entrepreneur competition have been notified that they’re through to the next round. These entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to the judges, who will then whittle down the number of contenders to five, from which the winner will be chosen.

“There has been great excitement over the past four months. As every single new entry came in, we would clap our hands and cheer,” said Mari Schourie, CEO of The Workspace. It was a tough job judging all the entries to reach the top 20 submissions, she said, before having to find the top 10.

“We’ve had really strong entries submitted by people with good business knowledge,” said Schourie. “You can see the willingness to work hard and the great amount of effort they have put into their initiatives.”

Schourie said judges saw “wonderful ideas and fabulous business minds and quality people with big dreams shine through the entries”.

The top 10 are:

  1. Loyal 1
  2. Dwyka Mining Services
  3. Minatlou Trading 251
  4. Sindis Best for all
  5. Convergence Three
  6. Zinde Zinde
  7. Matla Risk Management
  8. Artsort Trading
  9. Iconic Talent Agency
  10. Nthedikgwadi Transport Services

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

Schourie said she wished she could tell President Cyril Ramaphosa, who supports the growth of small business as an economic driver, “the ideas and the passion that these business owners have is inspiring and should be focused on more”.

The prize on offer – worth over R350 000 – will help set-up the winning entrepreneur for a period of 12 months, giving them a boost to help build their business.

Morné Stoltz, Head of Business Insurance at MiWay, said the theme that ran throughout the entries was that entrepreneurs wanted to make a difference and contribute to positive change in South Africa. “Many of the submissions focused on technical and developmental fields,” he said.

“Entrepreneurs recognise gaps in the market and see the potential for growth. Getting into the top 10 was not at all easy.”

Stoltz said South Africa had a “great bunch of entrepreneurs” and that standing together to give them a platform to launch was an exciting opportunity. “To grow our economy we need to help with skills development and give whatever assistance we can,” he said.

Part of the finalists’ road to the top includes a skills development programme for the top 10 entrants ahead of their important date to pitch their business plans to the judges.

As Schourie pointed out, it is vital to encourage South African citizens to act on their dreams and passions because “it can be a great success; they just need make that leap”.

Dates to watch:

  • 21 June: Top 10 skills development programme
  • 3 July: Top 10 pitches
  • 6 July: Top 5 announcement
  • 20 July: Final five workshops
  • 10 August: Final five pitches
  • 13 September: Winner announced

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Top 22 Start-ups Chosen For Final Selection Days – Startupbootcamp Africa

After receiving 1,004 applications from all over the world, the SBC team in conjunction with the programme’s corporate sponsors have narrowed the applicants down to 22 top-tier tech start-ups that will be invited to the Final Selection Days on July 11th and 12th at PwC’s headquarters in Cape Town.

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SBC Africa received 1,004 total applications from 77 countries on 5 continents. The start-ups that applied were exceptionally impressive and have gained more traction in the market than the applicants for the 2017 cohort. The talent in Africa is phenomenal and the corporate sponsors and SBC team dedicated 2 weeks to narrow it down to the Top 22 to be invited to Final Selection Days.

“It’s been an intense process due to the exceptionally high calibre of start-ups applying to the programme from across the continent,” states Philip Kiracofe, co-founder and CEO of Startupbootcamp Africa. “From 1,004 applications we have managed to narrow down to 22 of the most creative teams tackling daunting African problems. One of the key differentiators for start-ups that participate in the SBC Accelerator is the opportunity to secure commercial contracts with our sponsors. In order to make it onto our Top 22, each start-up has been chosen by at least 2 sponsors for potential proof of concept projects. The 2018 cohort is already shaping up to be a milestone moment for Africa.”

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of Startupbootcamp Africa added, “The investment community across Africa is taking note of the significant traction and access to market that being an alumni of a global accelerator programme like ours provides. We are excited to further galvanize venture capital funding into tech startups through significant de-risking of business models and customer validation with our corporate partners globally.”

From the 22 teams that have been invited to the SBC Africa Final Selection Days, 10 will be selected to join the 2018 cohort. Over the span of the two Final Selection Days, the startups in attendance will have the opportunity to present their pitches to high-profile corporate sponsors, investors, thought leaders and industry experts and will have the chance to sit down with mentors and sponsors alike. At the end of Day Two, the Top 10 will be announced and will be welcomed to the Cape Town-based Accelerator that kicks off in August. During the 3-month period, they will have the opportunity to scale at an incredible pace and seal pilot and proof of concept deals with the corporate sponsors to the programme.

The SBC Africa Accelerator is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank, Old Mutual and PwC.

“We’ve seen an increase in the quality of start-ups applying to the programme. The awareness of the value of the programme has increased and the success of the first year of the bootcamp speaks for itself. More mature start-ups are also seeing the benefits of participating in Startupbootcamp Africa,” comments Stanley Gabriel, Head of Innovation at Old Mutual.

The Top 22 start-ups invited to the Final Selection Days come from 7 different countries. The numbers are as follows: 8 from Nigeria, 5 from South Africa, 3 from Uganda, 2 from the Ivory Coast, 2 from Kenya, 1 from Ghana and 1 from Ireland.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

The names of the start-ups invited to Final Selection Days by country:

  • Nigeria: Bankly Technologies, Biyabot, CredPal, FriendsVow, Kudimoney Bank, Medikal HMS, NebulaPay, and ZEEZZ Planet Solutions.
  • South Africa: Brandbookalytics Big Data, ifileme, LÜLA, Prospa, and Akiba Digital
  • Uganda: CoinPesa Ltd, RoundBob Uganda, and Swipe 2 Pay
  • Ivory Coast: Digitech Group, and DISTRICASH
  • Kenya: Kakbima, and MPost
  • Ghana: Inclusive Financial Technologies
  • Ireland: Pago Payments

It has been an incredible 3-month scouting journey for SBC Africa and now that the Top 22 have been announced, the Final Selection Days is the only hurdle left before the Accelerator officially kicks off on 13 August 2018.

There are high expectations for the Top 10 of 2018 and if the quality of the start-ups at this stage is any indication, 2018 is set to be a great success for the African tech and innovation ecosystem.

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