(From right to left: Karabo Mohasoane – CEO of Barika Consulting; Lerato Erasmus – GM of Liyema Consulting Cape Town; Jazz Gcobisa Mbanjwa – MD of Zenzele People Professionals; Ayanda Mzondeki – Founder of Liyema Consulting; Jean Chawapiwa – Country Director of WEConnect International in South Africa)
It is said that behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women cheering her on. WEConnect hosted their International Europe Conference in London on 8 and 9 November 2018, to do just that.
Woman-owned businesses from every corner of the globe attended the conference and networking event. Entrepreneurs from all levels and challenges piled into the Hilton in Paddington, London to connect, collaborate and celebrate each other. This included female business owners with 50 employees to accomplished businesswomen boasting a staff of 5 000.
Over 30 invited speakers, with experience in the corporate field, gave presentations on a number of subjects including digital competence, and the importance of upskilling and reskilling. CEO and Founder of The Social Element UK Tamara Littleton delivered an exciting workshop on Using Social Media to Rock at Marketing and Selling. English Rugby Sevens Player, Heather Fisher, presented a seminar titled Who Said Winding Roads Don’t Lead to Great Things. Liyema Consulting attended because we wanted to learn from the seasoned speakers; we wanted to make the most of the allocated networking time too.
“Though WEConnect is an international brand, they have a South African chapter we have been part of for five years now. Having partnered with them all this time has given us access to great business opportunities,” our very own Samantha Kgabi said. She attended the conference with Liyema’s founder Ayanda Mzondeki and Lerato Erasmus who heads up the Cape Town office.
“Our main aim was to interact with corporate,” HR and Payroll Manager Samantha shared. WEConnect concerns themselves with diversifying the market by promoting a culture where women-owned businesses are afforded the same opportunities and given equitable access to big corporations. Their work ensures that female-owned companies have the chance to supply office furniture and stationary, plan and cater corporate events, or do HR related work like what Liyema offers.
And we’ve enjoyed the fruits of their labour. WEConnect has facilitated our partnerships with Ernst & Young, Sodexo and industrial manufacturing company Ingersoll Rand. We’ve helped these companies with their recruitment and staffing, as well as contract management, all thanks to the vision of WEConnect.
Everyday, the conference began with a breakfast networking session. Participating businesses set up stands and promotional banners where attendees were free to interact with sale representatives, CEOs and founders too. Tea breaks and dinners were much of the same. The workshops and seminars gave attendees a chance to gain an insight into the corporate industry. A presentation on Human Rights and Modern Slavery given by management consulting house Accenture resonated with us.
Ben Ngobi mentioned obvious forms of staff exploitation like Asian sweatshops, but his seminar covered how to identify less apparent unprincipled environments. He stressed that we cannot turn a blind-eye to modern slavery. The Global Procurement Sustainability Lead at Accenture said that we all need to do our due diligence to ensure that we are not working with unethical people as the power of association will affect our brands.
“You have a responsibility, no matter how small or big your company, to ensure that staff are going to be safe and not coerced into doing things they don’t feel comfortable with. Liyema has a responsibility to ensure whoever we do HR for upholds labour laws. It isn’t enough that we aren’t the perpetrators, we need to be intentional about vetting companies so any amorality is identified,” Samantha shared.
The Liyema staff that represented us at the WEConnect International Europe Conference returned with a better understanding of where innovation is heading in the corporate talent acquisition industry. It seems the winds of change continue to blow in favour of female entrepreneurs and business owners who want a seat at the table – or are vying for the contract to build the table themselves.