Collaboration is key to growth for women entrepreneurs — Lionesses of Africa

Event Report

When you talk about an important topic such as The Power of Collaboration for Women Entrepreneurs in Growth Mode, then women want to hear and engage, and that was certainly the case at the latest Lioness Business Agility Webinars on 13 April 2022. The event, organized by Lionesses of Africa in partnership with Absa, brought together a record number of women entrepreneurs together online to engage, connect and importantly, explore potential future collaborations. 

The focus of the second session in the series of Lioness Business Agility Webinars was on ‘Collaboration,’ and the power of tapping into community to find potential collaborative partners. This is a topic that both Lionesses of Africa and Absa talk about often, believing that if you want to grow your business to the next level, and achieve your goals faster, then collaborating with other equally focused and like-minded women entrepreneurs is a powerful way to go. 

The digital webinar event kicked off with a welcome from Lioness Business Agility Ambassador and host, Nomalanga Sitole, who said: “Every woman entrepreneur thinks about growing her business, it’s only natural. But making that growth happen as quickly as desired is another challenge all together. That’s why collaboration is a potentially powerful tool to grow faster and smarter.” This was a sentiment shared by Melanie Hawken, founder of Lionesses of Africa, who welcomed attendees by saying: “We all know that being an entrepreneur can be challenging at the best of times, and therefore having great like minded people who share your growth ambitions along with you on your entrepreneurial journey is so important to keep you going and keep you focused on that growth. If you do what you love each day, and collaborate with people who keep you energized with their shared passion and enthusiasm for getting the job done, you can achieve anything. In addition, collaboration opens up new business opportunities, new markets, new ideas and ways of working that can accelerate your business growth.”

The event programme got underway in earnest with an introduction to the theme of collaboration and why it can be such an important tool for growth for women entrepreneurs, provided by Dr Langa Simela, Business Development Manager, Agribusiness at Absa. She drew on her vast experience and insights in the field of Agribusiness, giving practical examples of how collaboration can open up the potential to access new markets in this important industry sector. 

The discussion really got underway with the special invited guest speaker for the event, and a real expert on the subject of collaboration in business. Nicola Cooper is the author of a fascinating new book, The Future of Collaboration – a must read for all women entrepreneurs. Nicola is the founder of Nicola Cooper and Associates, Winner of the Most Innovative Market Research Specialists at South Africa MEA Business Awards 2021, R&A Consultancy of the Year at South Africa MEA Business Awards 2020. She is an academic, analyst, teacher, speaker and brand consultant, and a well-known presence in Africa’s fashion and lifestyle landscapes. Nicola provided some fascinating insights into how collaboration can provide opportunities for growth, gateways to new markets, greater brand visibility, and importantly, peer-to-peer motivation and inspiration. She also talked about the potential pitfalls to be avoided, and how to underpin collaborations with legal agreements defining roles and responsibilities, and intellectual property ownership. Nicola made available to attendees a summary of her book giving some great tips and advice on how to successfully collaborate in business.

As always, the Lioness Business Agility Webinars like to open up conversations on the theme of the events, so on this occasion, attendees had the opportunity to hear from and engage with an invited panel of women entrepreneurs from the Lionesses of Africa community who have first hand experience of how to harness the power of collaboration for business success and growth. Panelists included: Janine Petersen, founder of J9 Wines; Mbali Masike-Malebye, founder of NgiyiMbali Wines; Josephine Katumba, Founder of Biakudia Urban Farming Solutions; together with Nicola Cooper and Dr Langa Simela, to talk about collaboration for growth. A question and answer session with the audience followed the panel discussion.

In line with Absa and Lionesses of Africa’s commitment to making the content from these Lioness Business Agility webinars as accessible as possible, the inspirational Thuli Zikalala, founder of Yellow Owl, provided sign language for deaf audience members at the event. Thuli is a regular member of the Lionesses team and makes great webinar content accessible to everyone.

Providing her final thoughts on the topic of collaboration, Melanie added: “My overall take out is that if we want our businesses to really grow and fulfill our visions and ambitions, then we need to harness the power of collaboration with other women entrepreneurs; we need to actively look for opportunities to collaborate, we need to look at what other women entrepreneurs are doing and identify areas of synergy; and importantly we need to build strong relationships with our fellow women entrepreneurs to create an environment where collaboration can thrive.”

The Lioness Business Agility Webinars take place bi-monthly in partnership with Absa, with next event taking place in June 2022. Programme details will be shared on the Lionesses of Africa website as soon as finalised –

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