The Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative (CiTi) was honoured to host HRH the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, at its Woodstock Bandwidth Barn on the recent Royal Tour.
The Duchess engaged with some of the female entrepreneurs who had participated in CiTi’s Women in Business programme. The fully-funded programme is run annually in partnership with the City of Cape Town and is facilitated by business leaders and industry experts to support women from the greater Cape Town area to future-proof their businesses for the digital economy.
On behalf of the UK-SA Tech Hub, the Bandwidth Barn hosted a roundtable with the Duchess and a group of female entrepreneurs who are all building and driving entrepreneurial ecosystems in South Africa. ‘Ladies who Launch’ aims to ignite opportunity through network building between aspiring, and inspiring women entrepreneurs and successful female role models.
The female founders shared their stories about how they are tackling some of South Africa’s biggest challenges such as lack of inclusion and inequality and were able to demonstrate how being a female entrepreneur is an advantage to their mission. The Duchess engaged with the group about women as positive role models and disrupting gender stereotypes.
One of the ‘Ladies who Launch’ who participated in the conversation was SweepSouth founder, Aisha Pandor. She has recently been appointed chairperson of BioCiTi, a BioTech lab and incubator launched by CiTi.
She said, “The round table discussion with the Duchess and the ‘Duchess 12’, as the group of women entrepreneurs have called themselves, was a great opportunity to candidly discuss our work, motivations, challenges and the importance of tenacity and perseverance when you are a role model to others and a game changer in your field. The Duchess generously shared advice based on her own experiences, encouraging us all to keep going through tough times and to have confidence in ourselves, whilst reminding us that our moral compass is pointing in the right direction. We also shared a few laughs around the joys of motherhood, and after some surprising answers from the group to the question ‘what fact about you is not shared on your LinkedIn?’, the hope is that this group will continue to connect and will meet with the Duchess again in future for updates on the progress of our work when she next visits the country.”
Lara Rosmarin, the head of Incubation and Entrepreneurial Development at CiTi who runs CiTi’s Women in Business Programme, also participated.
“The session was a fabulous opportunity for women leaders in various businesses to come together, share experiences, successes and challenges that they are currently facing. It was an absolute privilege for two women who completed CiTi’s Women in Business Programme to meet Her Royal Highness and share details about their businesses and achievements with her.”
CiTi CEO, Ian Merrington, shared, “Empowering female entrepreneurs, especially within a digitally driven economy, is core to CiTi’s mission of building a future fit inclusive society. We were delighted to host the Duchess and to further build out opportunities for innovation collaboration with the UK.”