On February 20th, 2019, WEConnect International corporate representatives and women business owners made their way to the EY Sandton office for a pre-conference event entitled: “Collaboration: Fast-track to Success”. Open primarily to WEConnect International Certified Women’s Business Enterprises, the afternoon session was particularly unique in that corporate members, representing different industries, sat in to discuss strategies on how to approach business opportunities in their specific sectors.
This event build’s off of an initiative launched in 2017 to create industry-specific collaboration groups within the WEConnect International in South Africa network of women-owned businesses. The goal of this initiative was to build greater capacity for women business owners to take on larger projects and contracts from corporate buyers. To date, several collaboration groups have been set up in Johannesburg that each focus on a range of different sectors. WEConnect International in South Africa continued this theme in other major cities around the country, namely Cape Town and Durban. The groups are as follows:
AWiA (African Women in Agriculture)
- In partnership with WEConnect International in South Africa, AWiA was created to change the face of agriculture to encourage and empowers young – particularly black – women entrepreneurs to partake and innovate in the agriculture sector. The group has made great strides in preparation of erecting an urban farm in Sandton, South Africa under the AWiA Development Program. Furthermore, AWiA aims to turn the Sandton skyscrapers into a green-hubs, which will create women "Agripreneurs" and expand the technologically-centered approaches to agriculture that will provide sustainable revenues for generations to come. The group is also working with several WEConnect International corporate members to create urban green garden opportunities.
AWiPD (African Women in People Development)
- In partnership with WEConnect International in South Africa, AWiPD was created to support women business owners in assessing, training, and developing their workforce talent in an ever-changing world. Their vision is to contribute to enhancing productivity and performance within the workplace by helping to increase staff levels of engagement to function effectively in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The group collectively offers a wide range of training of development programs and is currently in working to create online learning modules.
AWiT (African Women in Corporate Technology)
- In partnership with WEConnect International in South Africa, AWiT is a collaborative group specializing in IT services and technology solutions. Their project teams are made up of experienced and qualified technical specialists that are committed to diverse representation in their industry. 60% of which represent are African women, 40% African youth and 40% is people with disabilities (some % overlap). 3
Later in the day, 17 young women entrepreneurs from different South African provinces took part in a pitch exercise with the mentorship and support of several WEConnect International Certified Women’s Business Enterprises including Raksha Mahabeer of SummerTime Creatives, Paula Quinsee of Ati2ud Communications (Pty) Ltd, and Tania Reid of iThemba Office Solutions. The winners of the competition were later announced at the Annual Conference.