The Mangaung Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) says it will, for the first time ever, partner with Standard Bank to host the Top Women Regional Conference on May 20.
MCCI president Nancy de Sousa says Free State businesswomen should turnout in their numbers for this renowned empowerment event because it has been designed to help them grow in business.
“There is a lot of information to be shared and most of it is very relevant for business,” said De Sousa.
“The discussions will cover issues like overcoming barriers in entrepreneurship. The conference will also have some insights and influence towards advancing women in business,” she added.
The MCCI president noted innovators and entrepreneurs from the Free State are also being invited to enter the regional Top Women roadshow pitching den.
The competition aims to promote and develop the entrepreneurial creativity of startups, to showcase their groundbreaking products or services, to gain visibility across local, regional and international industry platforms.
The two-hour pitching den will feature eight pre-selected entrepreneurs with promising business models. They will be expected to outline them in a “three minute elevator pitch.
De Sousa said the event normally takes place in Johannesburg every August, but following numerous calls by women in other parts of the country, the conference will be held in four other provinces, including the Free State.
On May 23, the conference will be held in Klerksdorp in the North West province before moving to Kimberly, Northern Cape on May 27. The Nelspruit, Mpumalanga conference will be held on May 30.
“This is the first time ever for the conference to be held in Bloemfontein and I fought hard for it. I told the organisers that the Free State was always left. I said no one bothers bringing any big events to the province. Everyone just flew over us going to Cape Town or Johannesburg. I am glad they listened,” said an excited De Sousa.
In a statement, conference producer Asanda Mbali said the biggest barrier to success for women entrepreneurs is usually not business intelligence or innovative business models, but the access to trade or markets.
Mbali said the one-day conference is designed for women entrepreneurs to connect, share their barriers in business, get support and learn first-hand from successful award-winning entrepreneurs on how to boost their business prospects.
“Starting up a new business can be daunting especially with little or no support. It makes it more difficult for women entrepreneurs when they do not have access to value chains, markets, network, etc.
“Top Women, together with the bank, prioritise support for women pursuing their “next” aims to curb these barriers by offering a platform for women in business to participate and boost their prospects,” said the conference producer.
In a survey, Standard Bank found that 43 percent of women cited access to markets as a key barrier to entry and 22 percent of them listed networking on their wish list.