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Ladies who Lunch (and Learn): growing an ecosystem for powerful women entrepreneurs

- 22 August 2017

"We become more powerful when we empower others." This is one of the central messages behind Sheryl Sandberg's "lean in" movement, and the collaboration between Webber Wentzel and the 88 Business Collective this Women's Month. 

The passionate Founder and Managing Director of 88 Business Collective, Antoinette Prophy says: "For a women entrepreneur, it is important to surround yourself with people you can exchange ideas with and women you can talk to about your challenges. We need to collaborate with others if we want to see this country live up to its full potential".

Webber Wentzel hosted a 'lunch and learn' session with the 12 entrepreneurs on the 88 Business Collective premium programme, to offer them some valuable legal insight. Aalia Manie, Adam Ismail, Claire Gaul and Joanne McKay of Webber Wentzel, provided the women with some legal wellness tips around IP, corporate governance, employment and personal branding at the Webber Wentzel offices in Cape Town on 3 August 2017.

The 88 Business Collective is an accelerator programme focussed on emerging women entrepreneurs. The 18-month programme creates an ecosystem for women entrepreneurs to grow through collaboration, giving them access to new markets, offering a platform for accountability and a sounding board for better decision-making. To be accepted on the programme, the business must be privately owned, have at least a 60% women shareholding, must have been operational for two years and the owner/entrepreneur must have a desire to grow and expand their business.

The 12 entrepreneurs included women in various sectors such as hospitality services, staffing, learning and development, design and even in construction. These women are leading and changing their communities for the better.

Ziyanda Manzana, one of the 12 invited entrepreneurs spoke on her challenges as a black woman in quantity surveying: "I started out and took a risk in a male-dominated space, and sometimes you need to deal with egos. There are people who do not have faith and trust in you because you are a female. The industry has taken a long time to transform. When you interact with other women in the industry, it shows how some challenges are common to everyone. When it comes to personal brand, we need to adapt to different environments without compromising our values, our principles and our core. Being invited to be part of the programme happened to me when I needed it most. Hopefully this group of women will continue the work of the 88 Business Collective, and give back to other women entrepreneurs. With positive people around you, it is easy to just get on with it".

The 88 Business Collective believe that brands that will endure, are those that will be measured against their worth to society. The economic potential of South Africa faces many challenges but needs to be proactively harnessed through an integration of role-players aligned to the intervention of government.