On a cool morning on 27th June, 50 women entrepreneurs representing a wide range of business sectors gathered together in the beautiful surroundings of the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel in Nairobi for the first of what we hope will be many of the Lioness Lean In Breakfast events.
The morning started with breakfast and networking, providing an opportunity for old friends to meet and new friendships to be forged.
For Lionesses of Africa, this was the perfect time to reconnect with women entrepreneurs from Nairobi whose inspirational startup stories have been featured over the past few years.
The programme kicked off with a welcome from Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, who shared her own personal journey of becoming an entrepreneur and her epiphany moment which led to the building of the Lionesses of Africa network, which today has over 360,000 women entrepreneurs in 49 African countries.
Co-hosting the event for the morning was Elizabeth Wasunna, Head of Commercial Banking at Stanbic Bank Kenya, who shared her own vision for the growth of women’s entrepreneurship in the country.
She took the time to acknowledge and celebrate the women entrepreneurs who are building great businesses and brands in the country, helping to put Kenya on the map. Elizabeth also shared some of the important initiatives underway by the bank to practically support and empower entrepreneurs in the country, and encouraged women entrepreneurs to look at how they can grow their businesses and brands to become significant, game-changing players in the African economy.
The first of the guest speakers then took to the podium to share their unique startup stories and experiences of building their businesses and brands. Gatwiri Karimi, managing director of Inforparts Technologies, a highly successful exclusive IT genuine part supplier and upgrade solutions services company, told of her entrepreneurial journey with great honesty and humour.
Building a business in a male dominated industry sector has been a challenge, but she found a critical pain point on the part of corporates – business continuity being affected by the lack of readily available parts to support their ever demanding and growing business infrastructure. This created a business opportunity to provide the solution, and Gatwiri has seized that gap in the market and made it her own.
Next to the speaker podium was the Queen of African Luxury Jewellery, Adèle Dejak, founder of the brand that carries her name.
Adèle shared what has been an incredible business and luxury brand building story with amazing candor, keen for others to learn from her experiences.
She gave great insights into the challenges facing anyone building a global luxury brand, particularly in terms of training and managing people as a business grows, and getting access to new markets.
Adele also shared her practical experiences of pivoting an existing, established business and brand and taking it into a new and more focused direction, something her business is going through right now as the Adèle Dejak brand moves into a new era.
The final guest speaker to share her story was Anne Babu, a highly respected advocate who has built her own legal practice. She shared her highly personal story of the challenges of becoming a lawyer and then building a successful legal business in a highly competitive environment. Anne also related her experiences of recently launching her innovative online advisory platform for those needing advice and information on Kenyan employment law. www.kenyaemploymentlaw.com is a unique initiative and one that is positively changing lives.
The Lioness Lean In Breakfast event in Nairobi came to a close with Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken, inviting each woman entrepreneur in the room to share their startup stories and join the network. To read more about some of the Kenyan women entrepreneurs who are putting the country on the global business map, click here.