Lionesses of Africa radio show profiles women entrepreneurs


The network Lionesses of Africa hosted its last event of the year in Johannesburg, encouraging women entrepreneurs to connect and inspire each other. The network also shared some of its successes.

lionesses of africa raksha mahabeer
Raksha Mahabeer and Sandhya Singh co-founded the company Summertime. Mahabeer was one of the speakers at the Lionesses of Africa event LeanIn Breakfast in Johannesburg on 23 November 2017. (Images: Melissa Javan)

Melissa Javan
During its birthday celebrations in November, online network Lionesses of Africa announced it had launched a radio show. The show, hosted by Lionesses of Africa founder Melanie Hawken, interviews women from all over Africa about their entrepreneurship journeys.

The Lionesses of Africa has a network of 500 000 women entrepreneurs from 49 countries across the continent, says Hawken.

On Thursday 23 November 2017, the network hosted its last event in Johannesburg – a LeanIn Breakfast. “This [event] is where we inspire each other,” Hawken said. “This is where we get together to talk, especially when days are tough.”

Speaking about the radio show, Hawken said it touches on how the women interviewed build their businesses, lose their businesses. “We also celebrate each other.” The show is powered by Standard Bank.

Another success Lionesses of Africa has achieved is the hosting of African Startup Nights in countries beyond Africa. “We take five women entrepreneurs to these African Startup Nights to pitch their businesses to investors, partners and retailers.” The most recent event took place in Berlin, Germany.

The network is already planning the 2018 African Startup Nights for Germany, the United Kingdom and France.


Speakers at the LeanIn Breakfast included Standard Bank’s Dipuo Phakathi, Kathryn Main, founder of the Money Savvy Kids, Ngwana Matloa, co-founder of Abot Technology, Deborah Hartung, founder of People Pivot Tech, and Raksha Mahabeer, co-founder of Summertime.

Each gave a motivational talk, explaining their entrepreneurial journeys including the hard lessons they had learnt on the way.

lionesses of africa women kathryn main
Kathryn Main, founder of Money Savvy Kids, is one of the speakers at the Lionesses of Africa LeanIn event. She launched her financial literacy e-book, which is aimed at children between the ages four and 15 years old.

Here are some of the gems the speakers shared:

Raksha Mahabeer
Mahabeer, who co-founded Summertime in 2007 with Sandhya Singh, described their entrepreneurial journey as a beautiful one. “As an entrepreneur it’s important to understand where you going,” she said.

Mahabeer said, as a business owner, it was important to know your strengths and weaknesses.

For a long time she did not own her title, even if she knew and fulfilled the responsibilities of the title, Mahabeer said. She highlighted the business aspects of finance, operations, productions, marketing and human resources.

“Get real with yourself,” Mahabeer advised. “Get real about what you are skilled at and where you need to outsource.”

Other lessons she shared included:

  • One should have humility to be learner;
  • You should have resilience. “Do what you need to do to pick yourself up. For me, it’s doing yoga or being around certain people,” she said. “You are a reflection of where your business is going to be in the world.”
  • Know yourself and follow your intuition. “The [business] is a reflection of you.”

Ngwana Matloa
Matloa founded tech company Abot Technology with a university friend.

She worked in corporate structures for seven to 10 years and what she learnt during that time was that clients did not always get what they asked for. “I hated that clients didn’t get what they wanted. Then it was the developer’s job to fix the situation.”

Her company wants to change the perception around tech companies. “Tech is not difficult. We want to teach customers to understand data and help them collect it. Also, we wanted to start developing our own products and solve our own problems.”

Lessons she learned include:

  • If you want to move from working with small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) clients to big corporations, make the move a slow transition. She found that SMME clients would tell you upfront if they could afford your services, while with corporate clients you could wait for months to get confirmation on contracts;
  • Be aware that you will fail. “Being perfect doesn’t work.”
  • Learn to leverage your network. “It’s not just about taking. See what value you can bring.” She added that mentorship opened doors for her, because she got referrals from her mentors.

Source: Lionesses of Africa

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.