Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus. Photo: Supplied
Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus. Photo: Supplied

22 on Sloane to honour women

By Opinion Time of article published Aug 4, 2020

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By Kizito Okechukwu

JOHANNESBURG - Be it in business, at home or wherever and whenever, women the world over remain a force to be reckoned with. Their inherent dedication, strength of spirit, insight and foresight, humility and patience make them unique.

Many say that if you want to get things done, ask a woman. In African culture, it is said that if you feed a woman, you feed a nation. More often than not, women are cause-driven, with traits of integrity, soft-heartedness and strong-mindedness.

As South Africa celebrates women’s month, 22 on Sloane will be hosting over 1000 women at a webinar this coming Friday, August 7. I’m delighted to announce that a panel of five of the most powerful, influential, intelligent, smart (and dare I say beautiful) women will be joining me for discussions and thought-sharing, under the banner of “She Remains Resilient”.

Our National Women’s Day is celebrated on the August 9 each year and the entire month is also dedicated to this. It commemorates the day in 1956 upon which a20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the country’s pass laws that required black South Africans under the Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport to walk freely around the country, colloquially and insultingly called a “dompas”.

Getting down to business, in many communities, women startups comprise only 15-35 percent of all startups and more male-owned startups receive funding than their women counterparts. The pandemic is expected to widen this gender-based gap. The same goes for those trying to climb the corporate ladder.

Research published in 2019 by Pitch Book Data and All Raise, the San Francisco-based non-profit that is pushing for more diversity in the startup ecosystem, highlights various disparities between male and female startups. It reveals the global and US-focused trends surrounding female-founded companies and female-led VC funds, throughout the last decade.

Progress in garnering investment for female-founded startups has been made in recent years, with 2018 notching up $46.3 billion (R800bn) in total capital across nearly 3 500 deals, about 18 percent of the total venture invested, compared to $21.9bn in 2017.

In addition, female-founded startups are taking substantially less time to exit than the overall market, an important metric for female entrepreneurs and the investors who back them. The report also illustrates areas in which gender bias still continually proliferates, and offers key advice points and a call-to-action from partners and sponsors.

Our “She Remains Resilient” webinar aims to raise awareness about this so-called “segregation” and will also create a platform to support female-led startups during the pandemic and beyond. It is vital that we all work together, genderless, to ensure equal access to opportunities for all women.

Our panel members are Ms Buke Cuhadar, vice-President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Ms Zoleka Lisa, vice-President of SAB-AB InBev, Minnie Dlamini, an entrepreneur, celebrity, actress and TV host and Ms Tania Mukwamu, co-founder of Maxicash, one of the fintech startups based at 22 on Sloane, will also be joining us.

As an unknown author once said, “here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them and may we raise them”. The current global pandemic that is decimating the world and its business arenas, calls for resilience from all women and, at 22 on Sloane, we dedicate this webinar to help empower and support all female-led startups.

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

Ayn Rand, renowned best-selling Russian-American writer and philosopher

Kizito Okechukwu is the Board vice President and interim President of Digital Africa. He is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa based at 22 on Sloane; Africa’s largest startups campus

* To attend the webinar, please register at www.22onsloane.co.za

BUSINESS REPORT

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