South African entrepreneur delivers keynote at Africa Day in Vienna

What we've seen is an acknowledgement that entrepreneurship is a key driver towards structural economic transformation, which in turn is a driver for inclusive and sustainable economic growth. What we are not seeing, however, is African female entrepreneurs progressing to become big, efficient and reputable empires.

On 30 and 31 January 2018, Nwabisa Mayema will be in Vienna, Austria to address delegates at this year’s edition of the Austrian Leadership Programs (ALPS) run by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at its Africa Conference. She will be talking about the state of play of female entrepreneurship in Africa, how female entrepreneurs in Africa represent business opportunities and what we needs to be done to support and grow female entrepreneurship in Africa.

With many hardships facing the South African economy, it becomes clearer with each passing year that entrepreneurship is a viable solution to the problem. Hence a substantial effort, by the government and the private sector alike, is invested into encouraging young people to become entrepreneurs. While most institutions that are invested on supporting entrepreneurs are happy with providing financial capital and mentorship, they often neglect an important aspect of growing a business – social capital.

This realisation saw innovative entrepreneur, Nwabisa Mayema (36) co-founding a social enterprise, nnfinity, with her equally adventurous business partner, Nicola Stewart in 2016. nnfinity’s aim is to leverage social capital to empower African female entrepreneurs by giving them access to networks and opportunities to further their skills. The Enterprise uses its relationships and networks to create wider networks of female entrepreneurs across Africa. Through this broad network, female African entrepreneurs are empowered to explore opportunities for collaboration, trade and growth thus furthering their visions.

Mayema’s understanding of female entrepreneurs’ requirements stems from her more than ten years’ experience in the world of business. She stepped down from her role as managing director of Collective Genius, a consultancy in corporate social investment after ten years to focus her energies on ensuring a sustainable growth for other female entrepreneurs through nnfinity.

“The driving force behind nnfinity is to get entrepreneurs to move away from survival mode to a place where their businesses are not only thriving, but are sites for change making, creation of wealth and distribution of livelihoods. With social capital, it becomes easier for entreprenuers to get things done, achieve their goals and be successful quicker and easier,” explains Mayema.

Mayema is one of the Top 100 Brightest Young Minds in South Africa. She has a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree in Political Studies and Public Administration from the University of Cape Town. She finished top five in the Goldman Sachs-GIBS 10 000 Women Certificate Programme and in 2015 she was nominated by the US State Department to participate in a professional exchange to US.

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