Secretary of State for International Trade, Elizabeth Truss, and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE, spoke about investment opportunities in women-led businesses in Africa at a business event in London on 16 January.
11 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 (the fastest growing network of women entrepreneurs in 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 business people can connect and find new partners, buyers or investors.
The entrepreneurs showcased here today demonstrate just a fraction of the scale and range of opportunities that exist in Africa for UK investors and exporters.
The entrepreneurs taking part came from a range of sectors including technology, manufacturing, food and drink. Common to all the businesses is a strong focus on sustainability. The event connected the women-owned businesses to new markets, funding and partnerships in the UK.
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.
A panel of entrepreneurs discussed the challenges of brand building, opportunities for Africa’s women entrepreneurs to break into global marketplaces, the current interest from global markets in women-owned brands with a strong backstory, and the investment climate for Africa’s women-owned businesses looking to grow.
The three panellists were women entrepreneurs that had built successful and growing African businesses and brands. They were Monica Musonda, Founder of Zambian-based food processing company, Java Foods; Adenike Ogunlesi, founder of Ruff N Tumble; and Suzie Wokabi, founder of Suzie Beauty.