WIE, (Women: Inspiration and Enterprise) in partnership with the Wellbeing Foundation, brought together some of Africa’s female leaders in Cape Town for the first time.
Humanitarian campaigner and wife of Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel gave the keynote address and talk show host Felicia Suttle charismatically presented the event.
The WIE (Women: Inspiration and Enterprise) Africa Symposium, hosted by WIE founder Dee Poku in conjunction with Toyin Saraki, founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, was the first women’s conference on the African continent to bring together female leaders from the worlds of politics, business, philanthropy, media, fashion, entertainment and the arts to empower and inspire the next generation.
The event was packed full of panels and workshops on topics such as role of technology in media, tackling social perceptions of African women, entrepreneurship and the influx of western brands to the continent.
In addition, more than fifty women made a pledge to invest in other young women before the next conference.
Toyin Saraki who is also a supporter of the UN Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child Effort said:
“It’s been an honour and privilege for the Wellbeing Foundation Africa to partner with Dee Poku to make this WIE Symposium a reality. It has been quite a journey since Dee and I first talked about bringing WIE to this beautiful continent.”
“I remember getting home after attending my first WIE Symposium in New York two years ago, and being so energised by all the people that I had listened to and met, that all I wanted to do was share the experience with others. Iʼm sure the women that attended went back home with the same feeling.”
WIE’s CEO Dee Poku is thrilled at the outcome of the conference:
“WIE Africa exceeded my wildest expectations. Women leaders across the continent have been working diligently for years to improve the situation of the female population but WIE Africa brought them together.”
She added, “Individually these women were a powerful force but together we are unstoppable. My profound hope is that all the WIE attendees will make good on their pledge to invest in at least five women over the next 12 months.”
Jane Wales, President and CEO of the Global Philanthropy Forum spoke on a panel named “Innovation In Health And Education Post Millenium Development Goals” which was moderated by Mrs Saraki. She said:
“WIE Africa was an opportunity for women of accomplishment and creativity to come together, learn from one another, and contribute to one another’s success. It was both an honour and a joy to be among such warm, smart, talented and giving leaders. I hope that this was the first of an annual event.”
Next generation trailblazers such as serial entrepreneur Ndidi Nwuneli founder of LEAP Africa, and Isis Nyongo, Managing Director of InMobi which is the world’s largest independent mobile advertising network, also spoke on panels. Both are named on the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa list by Forbes.
WIE and Toyin Saraki hosted a fundraising dinner on the Monday evening, to benefit the Graca Machel Trust which was founded in 2010 to promote women’s leadership and children’s rights.
WIE Africa was timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum Africa and showcased women taking a central role in shaping the Africa of tomorrow. The pan-African event will occur in a different African city annually.
WIE has been hosting annual events in New York and London since 2010 and has brought together women like Alex Wek, Queen Rania, Donna Karan, Melinda Gates, Arianna Huffington and Cherie Blair.