Name: Leah Kitoloh
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Industry: Education & Training
Reason for starting? There many phenomenal women in the pan-African continent all striving to make a change within their respective communities. At LeahK, the opportunity identified was to connect these likeminded individuals through networking, initiatives and impact to establish and build chapters in each country that would create future cross-country collaboration.
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How do you define success? The structured Conversations with LeahK events help establish each chapter in a different country. The events are educational events targeted at better management and skills for small business startups in the first 3 years. Once chapters are established, the members continue to connect and identify initiatives and fundraising opportunities that are specific to the chapter to make a positive impact on their community and economy. The impact of the chapters are managed by members that manage and track initiatives, member development and growth. These case studies are kept and shared with other exiting and startup chapters with opportunities for chapter collaboration.
Biggest success: LeahK has successfully established a Woman’s Worth Chapter in South Africa and is currently expanding the network in Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Woman’s Worth Conversations with LeahK take place every other month with themed entrepreneurship skills to support growing the chapter members. The chapters include both small business startups as well as six established entrepreneurs.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? LeahK’s top challenge has been finance and cost management of the network events, with logistics and venue hire being the highest expenses. To sustain this, other workshops and talent Performance Strategy workshops are how LeahK makes money to finance the Woman’s Worth Chapter in South Africa and expansion into the Pan-African continent. LeahK runs on collaborations and all work attained is contracted. This structure was to break the corporate structure and governance model from being replicated in entrepreneurs’ businesses. The challenge to start a small business is always faced with the financial capital as the top challenge, and without funding this is the largest cause for failure. Removing the OPEX and building a collaborative contract model was how LeahK was established.
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Who is your most important role model? I am inspired by the many African women across the Pan-African continent. They, against most odds, keep striving, and in a continent where 72% of women find entrepreneurship as a lucrative option to make a living, only 2% have access to start up and many have nowhere to turn in the first 3 years. LeahK’s inspiration to set up skilled programmes for individuals that are passionate about their ideas, but have no funds or knowledge of running a business, is one of the many ways to make a positive difference and build a legacy for our future generations in Africa.
Edited by The Story Exchange