The Annual Young Women Thrive Business Conference was organised by Criar Investments, a marketing and technology company based in Benoni, Johannesburg, founded and run by Activator Nathacia Olivier.
The conference, held at Constitution Hill, was aimed at assisting aspiring and emerging female entrepreneurs between the ages of 16-35 years old. Olivier says that she decided to host the event after identifying a lack of knowledge around business sustainability as well as low investment opportunities, emotional and moral support and effective mentorship for female entrepreneurs.
The guest speaker’s list was made-up of seasoned and emerging inspirational woman within various business sectors and included: 2015 Miss South Africa second princess Nontsikelelo Mkhize, entrepreneur and University of Johannesburg lecturer Dr Buyi Sondozi, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Communications Manager Nelisa Ngqulana, Kopano Paltry Farming board member and the founder of events coordination company “The Events Girl” Mpho Maphologela, Gauteng Youth Chamber of Commerce & Industry provincial secretary and construction company co-owner Tumelo Serepo, football coach and the founder of Olifant Project Lmaude Motloung, founder and CEO of EnziAfrica Palesa Makhanda and Tebogo Suping director & founder of Blaq Apple Communications.
Guests were also entertained by sounds from Soulful Sessions Entertainment, while The Design Parliament founder Sarah Madingwana and Lukhanyo Lezwe Trading & Projects CEO Kwandile Sikhosana were the Masters of Ceremony.
Some of the important topics that speakers highlighted were: dealing with the perceptions about how young African women are portrayed in society, particularly in relation to entrepreneurship, challenges women face working in male-dominated sectors and how they can become successful and at the same time make a valuable contribution to society, what stops women from living out their dreams and what should change within various industry sectors regarding women and why social entrepreneurship is important and how to make and sustain an income from it.
Olivier said that another reason her company organised the event was because many female entrepreneurs and their enterprises are scattered around and there is no solid network.
“It is an open secret that most women in business encounter many challenges in their own isolated corners. Unfortunately, during those trying times they ask themselves too many questions like ‘What do I do now?’ and ‘How do we overcome these challenges?’ A women-only focused reliable platform where seasoned entrepreneurs will meet and support each other will make sure that such challenges will be the thing of the past.”
Olivier also mentioned that the program and the information that was disseminated wasn’t meant for entrepreneurs only. “There are many other career aspects that female students struggle to overcome, including finding mentors, especially in careers such as engineering, agriculture, mining, etc. This was an issue also covered by our various speakers on the day.”
Nelisa Ngqulana said that ACTIVATE! Change Drivers decided to collaborate with Criar Investments because part of ACTIVATE!’s mission is to support initiatives that advance the empowerment of young women, give Activators an opportunity to network with each other and to support a fellow Activator’s event. “Events like these allow Activators to share what they know and connect with other like-minded young people,” she said.
University of Fort Hare law student and Eastern Cape based Activator Isa Mbely Jwarhakazi Mdingi described the event as “breathtaking”.
“I do not regret buying my bus ticket and being here. I met beautiful women with beautiful hearts who have done so much to make a mark and leave a legacy. I learnt a lot about the importance of my own brand as a woman, which I did not think mattered that much. Dr Buyi’s speech also really explained how to respect and love what I do no matter how small the world may think it is. The Women Thrive in Business conference has been a great experience for me.”
Olivier was extremely pleased with the way the event turned out. “It was simply an amazing gathering of young women who want to see themselves become successful and driving ripples of change within their communities by reducing the crisis of unemployment. I believe that investing in women is a great economic revolution and would like to thank all those who invested their time and resources partners with us in unlocking opportunities, changing mind sets and encouraging women to grow in every way possible within various phases of their business ventures.”
Look out for news of Criar Investment’s next event in August.