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Absa Lionesses Xpo To Showcase Game-Changing Women Entrepreneurs On Virtual Platform

Doing business with women entrepreneurs has never been more vital, as South Africa grapples with the ripple-effect of the extended lockdown and economic crisis. The challenge is to connect women business owners with potential corporate buyers.

The sheer size and volume of corporate purchasing worldwide means that corporations have the potential to dramatically influence the way suppliers and supply chains operate. Each year, corporations spend trillions of dollars acquiring goods and services, yet purchases from women-owned businesses account for a mere one per cent of the total spend. By overlooking women-owned businesses, many corporations are missing an opportunity to expand their global markets, diversify their supply chains, and grow the economy, while simultaneously improving the lives of women and girls around the globe. Source: UN Women 2017 report ‘The Power of Procurement: How to Source from Women-Owned Businesses.’

For business leaders, prioritising women owned businesses in procurement, particularly by locking in demand for several years, can address this challenge. In South Africa, procurement from emerging micro enterprises (EMEs) that are black female-owned provides the opportunity to enhance a company’s B-BBEE scorecard.

Against this backdrop, the Absa Lionesses Xpo has been developed to showcase a diverse array of products and services from over 100 of South Africa’s exciting women-owned businesses on a sophisticated virtual platform that will be launched with a dynamic, interactive event on Thursday, 29 October. Lionesses of Africa is a Public Benefit Corporation that empowers leading female entrepreneurs of Africa, referred to as “Lionesses” to create game-changing impact for the continent.

The innovative Absa Lionesses Xpo is designed to connect corporate buyers and decision-makers with successful women-owned businesses on a user-friendly and professional platform that will deliver high-level exhibition features and benefits, including live access to the Lioness exhibitors.

The Absa Lionesses Xpo will open with presentation sessions in a virtual auditorium setting by Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa founder and CEO, senior executives from Absa as the impact partner and various Lionesses.

The Xpo will follow, opening an easy-to-navigate world of opportunity for buyers and decision-makers to explore the exhibition, selecting and visiting the ‘stands’ of interest, engaging with the product and service ranges, and interacting with the owner-Lionesses on the networking feature. The event on 29 October will be the only day that all the Lionesses will be present at their virtual stands for discussion and engagement, although the platform will remain live to give buyers access to their products and information for a limited period thereafter.

Melanie Hawken explains that this virtual exhibition will give corporate participants free-of-charge access to a visual experience of products and services on offer from the Lionesses. The platform provides an index of directory categories and sub-categories, enabling participants to personalise their exhibitor selection and virtual stand visits, and the networking functionality enabled by WhatsApp at each stand gives participants access to the specific Lioness in person, via a one-on-one chat or video call. The Xpo platform also features e-commerce functionality for added convenience for buyers.

“Absa Lionesses Xpo has engaged with leading-edge service providers to ensure a highly focused and productive visual online exhibition experience for the participants, as well as the opportunity for our Lionesses to showcase their quality offerings,” she said.

Tina Playne, Absa’s Managing Executive, Sectors & Segments at Absa Private Wealth and Business Bank, says Absa has long been wholly committed to harnessing the power of women entrepreneurs because of their innate ability to unlock economic growth. “One of our key strategies is to engage, empower and serve entrepreneurs – women in particular. Against this background, Absa firmly believes that our partnership with Lionesses of Africa is the right fit. The Xpo provides a real demonstration of the Lionesses’ remarkable range of products and services, whilst delivering on our promise that ‘we do more so you can’.”

Among the Lionesses at the Xpo will be:

  • Pumza Ndlotyeni, founder and CEO of Gebane Investments, which provides electrical engineering and substation construction services
  • Ntsoaki Kortjass, founder and CEO of Tsoabelo Security Solutions, a security services company
  • Mapholo Ratau, founder and CEO of Ledikana, that specialises in fashion and textiles
  • Andiswa Silinga, CEO of Gemini GIS Services, that offers environmental and data services, UAV surveying, mapping, monitoring and inspection
  • Mahlatse Masimini, CEO of Moshate Media, providing events management, brand communications and public relations services.

Register to attend

Corporate procurement managers and directors, senior management, CEOs and business owners are invited to register their interest in participating in the Absa Lionesses Xpo for an opportunity to source a vast array of products and services through this interactive and engaging digital platform. To register your interest in attending, go to   

For more information on Lionesses of Africa, visit

Melanie Hawken, founder of Lionesses of Africa

Tina Playne, Absa’s Managing Executive, Sectors & Segments at Absa Private Wealth and Business Bank