11 African women entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to UK investors at Start-up Night Africa, ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit next week. Founders, CEOs and entrepreneurs from a range of sectors, including new technology and sustainable fashion, were represented at the event.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Department for International Development (DfID) hosted the women’s event in partnership with Lionesses of Africa with the support of the Secretary of State for International Trade, Elizabeth Truss MP, and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE.
Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE said: “The key to making a positive, lasting difference and creating more jobs on the African continent through investment is addressing the current gender imbalance for men and women business leaders seeking investment.”
Events such as ‘Start-Up Night Africa’ demonstrate the impact we can have by connecting Africa’s entrepreneurs with the UK’s business community; creating spaces and places where businesspeople can connect and find new partners, buyers or investors.
Lionesses of Africa is a social enterprise supporting Africa’s women entrepreneurs by building and delivering development programmes, business tools and a range of other resources to help them share, connect, and ultimately grow their businesses.
Lionesses of Africa Founder and CEO, Melanie Hawken announced that they have met their initial target of 1 million women entrepreneurs in their community and are set to launch the Lionesses of Africa Foundation with headquarters in London.
Speaking about the decision to make London the home of the new foundation, Melanie Hawken said:
At Lionesses of Africa, we understand the power of partnerships to make big things happen for women entrepreneurs. The UK is already a strong strategic partner for our organisation, and this is an important marketplace for Africa’s high growth potential women entrepreneurs to access. Making the UK the home for our Foundation was a simple decision for us to make.
Secretary of State for International Trade, Elizabeth Truss MP said: “We want to partner with more women to enable them to innovate, grow their businesses and reach their potential. It’s exciting to see such a range of sectors represented and such innovative ideas being presented and brought to life. This event was not only an incredible opportunity for women entrepreneurs, but also a chance to harness the benefits of growing these hubs in Africa. I look forward to seeing how their businesses grow as they take advantage of opportunities in the UK.”
The event builds on the successful Gender-Lens Investing breakfast event hosted by Emma Wade-Smith in Johannesburg on 13 November last year, in the margins of the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum and the Royal visit to Johannesburg on 2 October when Emma Wade-Smith hosted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Lionesses of Africa.
The entrepreneurs include:
- Kerryne Krause, Founder of eyeSlices
- Brenda Katwesigye, Founder of Wazi Vision
- Adenike Ogunlesi, founder of Ruff N Tumble
- Carmen Williams, Founder of Trecento
- Monica Musonda, Founder and CEO of Java Foods
- Temi Giwa Tubosun, Founder and CEO of Lifebank
- Suzie Wokabi, founder of Suzie Beauty
- Eugenia Langa, Founder and CEO of Nweba
- Flora Mutahi, Founder and CEO of Melvin Marsh International
- Christelle Kwizera, Founder of Water Access Rwanda
- Pumza Ndlotyeni, Co-founder of Gebane Engineering Services
- Mariam Hazem, Co-founder of Reform Studio
- Nicola Luther, CEO and Creative Director, Lunar