She Leads Africa is a community propelling young African women to achieve their professional dreams. The Nigeria based organisation co-founded by Yasmin Belo-Osagie and Afua Osei recently held their first SLAY festival in Johannesburg (in collaboration with AUDA-NEPAD) securing some of the top business women, professionals and media personalities in South Africa. The networking and learning event was about sisterhood and empowerment packed with good vibes; inspired and inspiring women.
The keynote speaker was media personality and business woman Bonang Matheba, who shared her journey to success with the topic "Making Money Moves", we conversed with her about her brand and how she is making an impact in the lives of young women.
When was the moment where you started to feel that you represent endless possibilities for South African women?
When I moderated a panel at the United Nations General Assembly two years ago, and President Macron was there, Theresa May was there and the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also there. And I led a panel around the unstoppable girl and how the world has been built to support the man child and the boy child versus the girl child. I think that's when I knew that I think I can use my power for influence, and also joining the Global Citizen Africa team and allowing them to help me on this journey of trying to change the world and trying to see how I can, you know, impact the world. That's when I knew that, God gives to you, so He can give through you. And I was saying on the stage earlier, you do get to a point, when you know and you feel like you have to do something for somebody else.
And talking about doing something for someone else, you're clearly passionate about education particularly women's education. What's the personal significance of being involved in an event like this?
Oh, yeah, I mean, everybody knows the Bonang Matheba Bursary Fund is centred around young girls. My work with Global Citizen is centred around girls, my work with the UN Women, my work with Procter and Gamble's about keeping women in school, educating the girl child fighting for her rights. And it's important for me to always be at places like this, because representation matters. And young girls want to see it through us. They want to hear it from us, and they want to touch us and they want to ask us questions. We all need a big sister. And I know how it feels to have a wonderful big sister. It helps you grow as a woman. It gives confidence. So I try very much to be part of organisations like this that are big sisters to young women around the world.
Then in terms of the digital space. How do you feel about the digital era within the reality of socio-economic issues in South Africa?
I know. The world is moving digitally, South Africa isn't, because data prices are just so high, no one can access knowledge. And once you get people on the grid of accessing data, they get access to free knowledge and that opens up so many many many many many, many things and South Africa is so much just up against it. Electricity, unemployment, you know, university fees and transportation. When you add now on top of that, the digital era, oh my God, I mean, how are we ever even gonna get there?
Do you think it's healthy, though? In terms of how we're using digital platforms?
We don't know how to use it because we don't have access to it. So how are we gonna be better at something if our kids have to pay R10 and to just be on, you know any digital anything for like, one minutes? How do they grow?
How do science and technology grow? You know?
It's a question that I would want to actually ask an African leader. Don't you think? Because that's such an important question.
But I've partnered with Samsung. There are a lot of things that we're trying to do using technology to try to reach out to fans. I'm going to launch an app called Be Safe which is around gender-based violence. Where you can shake your phone and you get a response if you're in trouble as a woman in South Africa. Yeah. And you know, somebody comes and finds you. Because gender based violence is a huge issue. So that's how I'm trying to tackle it.
And lastly do you attribute your career success mostly to hard work or luck?
Both. Because I believe luck is when your preparation meets God halfway. There's nothing like good luck. Good luck finds people who are prepared, who are ready. So always be ready so that you don't have to get ready.
The event’s talks were divided into sections; the main stage was for panel discussions and more comprehensive talks whilst masterclasses were for in-depth learning sessions and the mogul talks were coaching sessions.
Mogau Seshoene is an entrepreneur, chef and award-winning cookbook author who transitioned from corporate to entrepreneurship to create her brand "The Lazy Makoti ''; her accolades include Forbes Africa's 30 under 30 (2019) and the Gourmand World Cookbook Award.
Kim Jayde is a Zimbabwean, South Africa based model and award-winning TV presenter. Kim was recognised on Forbes Africa's 30 under 30 list in 2018 and has recently been named one of the Most Influential Women in Zimbabwe by Women's Voice Zimbabwe.
Mapalo Makhu, the award-winning personal finance coach, speaker, founder of Woman & Finance and author of "Going from Broke to Pre-Rich", gave a masterclass in her area of expertise, finance. With over six years experience in the financial services market, Makhu's insights are geared to help you change your money mindset, to live your best life.
Young activist Zulaikha Patel spoke about bringing change to our communities. Patel is an activist for gender equality and women’s rights; we were first introduced to her when she was 13 and became a symbol of the fight against Pretoria Girls High School's policy against black girl's hair.
SLAY festival's female magic didn't stop there, other speakers included Ayanda Thabethe, Dr. Nokukhanya Khanyile, Candice Modiselle, Nandi Dlepu, Poppy Ntshongwana, Valentine Gaudin-Muteba, Jabulile Gwala and more.
In collaboration with Mane Chicks
Photography: Masego Morulane
Writing : Phendu Kuta