An action-filled programme with a variety of contributors from local and international speakers gave the WEConnect International in South Africa Annual Conference on 11 May, 2017, a particularly memorable character. Inspirational contributions by host Val Davies, Chief Operating Officer, EY, and keynotes Ms Susan Shabangu, Minister for Women in the Presidency, and Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy, Jessye Lapenn, emphasised the importance of mentoring, training and connecting women. The event was sponsored by EY, ExxonMobil, MSD, Accenture, IBM, Marriot International, Johnson & Johnson, and Ingersoll Rand.
Programme director Lynette Ntuli (woman business owner and TV presenter) infused the programme with humour and enthusiasm.
The third event of its kind in South Africa, the conference included addresses by Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO and Co-founder of WEConnect International and Jean Chawapiwa, Country Director, WEConnect International in South Africa. The launch by Shereen Wardakan of the P&G Training programme for 20 women business owners highlighted an excellent opportunity for women to enhance their skills.
Dubbed the event ‘where women-owned businesses meet the marketplace’, the day’s lively panel discussions between corporate members and women business owners offered useful insights, information and guidance. Thriving businesses and peer support among the 41 WBEs were celebrated as important indicators of progress and developments for WEConnect International in South Africa.
Johnston Makhubu, CPO of the South African Revenue Services, gave a detailed introduction to factors influencing government procurement. Makhubu noted that women business owners were absent in various sectors and he encouraged them to pursue opportunities for inclusion in government procurement processes.
Numerous informal networking breaks provided an enabling context for women business owners to connect with WEConnect International's global corporate members and with one another. These corporates included the conference sponsors and Advisory council members: ABSA/Barclays, Intel, Monsanto, Pfizer, UPS, and Sodexo.
Consensus among women business owners at the event was that better understanding about working successfully with multinational corporations and in-depth information about supplier inclusion were invaluable take-away messages.
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