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Women entrepreneurs shine at Gauteng Women Entrepreneur Development & Networking Day

WEConnect International in South Africa, together with Johnson & Johnson and Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GED), wrapped up women’s month with a pioneering event in Johannesburg city centre, in which 55 amazing women entrepreneurs based in townships across Gauteng province converged for a day of networking and developmental training.

The day comprised training workshops facilitated by women business owners, the majority of whom were WEConnect International certified women business owners (WBEs).  The training covered critical topics such as digital transformation for SMEs facilitated by Christi Maherry, CEO of LawTrust and Marilyn Radebe, MD of SOMA Solutions; managing your projects for excellent customer service, facilitated by Shaheema Adams, MD of CEX Lab and Phindi Msomi, MD of Olwazini Consulting; and finances for SMEs, facilitated by Rea Mafoko, MD of Talana Group and Ngwana Matloa, Co-Founder of Abot Technology. Thereafter, the township-based entrepreneurs were placed in five sector-specific groups where they competed in a business pitching competition judged by panels consisting of corporates, WBEs and representatives from GED. Two entrepreneurs were picked as winners in each group, and the 10 winners received goodie bags of items donated by GED, Corporates and WBEs.

The event was attended by 104 attendees, besides the Township entrepreneurs’ other attendees included representatives from Gauteng Provincial Government, WEConnect International in South Africa’s WBEs, and corporate members.  The corporate members were from Johnson & Johnson, Ingersoll Rand, Accenture, Monsanto-Beyer, Procter & Gamble and ABSA.  As well as other Corporates invited by GED from Nedbank, Vodacom and NYDA.

This was the first WEConnect International in South Africa event at which the Chairperson, Jacob Pretorius, GS Sourcing Team Lead from Johnson & Johnson, shared the stage with newly appointed vice-chairpersons of WEConnect International in South Africa’s Advisory Council:  Zandile Njamela, Supplier Inclusion & Diversity Africa Lead: ESDP at Accenture, and Lindsay Burns, Marketing & Procurement Specialist at Ingersoll Rand.

Jacob, Zandile and Lindsay were very supportive in the planning of the event and helped facilitate sessions, giving guidance and advice on presenting business pitches to the women entrepreneurs prior to the competition. The event was made possible by the hosting of the Gauteng Province’s Director for Special Projects, Strategic Partnerships and International Relations, Tseliso Mohlomi, and his team who also identified and invited the 55 entrepreneurs from their township supplier database. A message of support and motivation was delivered by the acting CEO of the Gauteng Economic Propeller, Leah Manenzhe.  Leah’s team also joined the event as judges to the business pitches. Leah arranged for the top 10 winners to be awarded R9,000 each towards business costs.

The GED has expressed interest in participating in similar events with WEConnect International in South Africa in the future, and we look forward to forging a relationship with them, which will support both parties in fulfilling our respective mandates. This event has highlighted WEConnect International’s growing footprint in South Africa. Jean Chawapiwa, Country Director, WEConnect International in South Africa, said, “We were honoured to work with GED, WBEs and corporates in this collaboration which helped us to connect with young women business owners who had limited knowledge of our organisation. We were all delighted at the skills and levels of innovation displayed by these upcoming stars.”

Goodie bags with memory sticks, pens, notebooks and other useful items were given to all attendees to ensure they left feeling like winners. The 10 winning companies from the business pitches each received a cash prize of R9 000.00 generously donated by the Gauteng.