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Johnson & Johnson and WEConnect International in South Africa’s Roadshow 2018

During Women’s Month (August), Johnson & Johnson spearheaded the WEConnect International in South Africa Roadshow 2018 to two major cities, Durban and Cape Town. Invitations went to women business owners affiliated with WEConnect International as well as to other women-owned businesses that were introduced to WEConnect International in South Africa for the first time.

Corporates joining on the day included Jacob Pretorius from Johnson & Johnson (GS Sourcing Team Lead) who is also WEConnect International in South Africa’s Advisory Council Chairperson; Lindsay Burns from Ingersoll Rand (Marketing and Procurement Specialist) and Sinqobile S Khumalo from EY (Emerging Markets Region Team Member; Business Enablement; Talent Acquisition Lead). These corporate representatives had a frank discussion with the women business owners on how to do business with corporates, the type of business corporates are looking to engage with and various procurement policies and the difficult topic of payment terms. It was a rare opportunity for women business owners to speak directly to these representatives of large corporations and ask questions pertaining to their potential business ventures with corporates.

The women business owners were also given an opportunity to present their one-minute pitch to all attendees. Certified women’s business enterprises excelled at the exercise and were shining examples on how to delivery a concise and clear pitch.

To round-up the day, women business owners divided themselves into various market sector groups for collaboration discussions. To continue to facilitate the growth of the women business owners network and get access to bigger opportunities from corporate members as well as strengthen partnerships within the network, WEConnect International in South Africa undertook an initiative to create collaboration groups within the network. The goal is to build requisite capacity for women business owners to take on the ‘bigger projects’ from corporates.

To date, several collaborative groups have been set up, focusing on different sectors. In Durban, sector-led collaboration groups included catering & events management; human resource solutions; IT; and facilities & constructions management. In Cape Town, collaboration groups included facilities & energy management; IT & manufacturing; and human resource and training solutions.

Most women business owners left with a sense of “we are not alone” in their business ventures. Finding a network like WEConnect International in South Africa not only gives them access to corporate opportunities but also a chance to meet other women business owners for networking or possible joint ventures.