Dare2Aspire Pitch Event 2023

Report: Innovation SL’s Dare2Aspire – Women in Entrepreneurship Event

Introduction:

Every year in November, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is dedicated to entrepreneurs and innovators all around the world. The event aims to bring together entrepreneurs globally to inspire and educate them by bringing in key experts, organizations, individuals, and communities to promote entrepreneurship and innovation by providing a platform to foster collaborations, share knowledge, and support aspiring and established entrepreneurs in their journey. The Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) empowers nascent entrepreneurs and those who face systemic barriers to starting and scaling their own companies.

 Innovation SL, an entrepreneurship support organization, plays a key role as the national host for Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in Sierra Leone every year. We celebrate entrepreneurs and support SMEs and startups by creating an enabling environment through Global Entrepreneurship Week by organizing panel sessions, and pitch events to support budding entrepreneurs with seed funds, networking, partnership, and mentorship.

In collaboration with the Bank Complex Hall Kingtom, Innovation SL organized a transformative event on Day 3 of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2023 – Dare2Aspire: Women in Entrepreneurship. The Bank Complex Hall in Kingtom, Freetown, served as the backdrop for a day dedicated to unlocking the potential of female entrepreneurs.

 

Event Overview: 

 

Dare2Aspire is a dedicated women entrepreneurship event and a pitch night that focuses on the importance of women’s potential to contribute to developing the country’s economy. The event is a multifaceted event set aside for female entrepreneurs during the Global Entrepreneurship Week, offering engaging sessions aimed at empowering and fostering the development of women in entrepreneurship. The Dare2Aspire is Innovation SL flagship program 

 

Exhibition:

 

A diverse array of female entrepreneurs captivated a broad audience with a showcase of their products and services, fostering a collaborative atmosphere and providing a platform for networking through the Dare2Aspire event during GEW as a way of promoting and encouraging female entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone.

Financial Inclusion Session:

JIT Capital led a comprehensive 1hr 30min session, delving into financial management, microfinance opportunities, and alternative funding sources. The goal was to equip attendees with essential financial knowledge crucial for their entrepreneurial journeys.

MD’s Address:

Mr. Francis Stevens George, the Managing Director of Innovation SL and Global Entrepreneurship Network, set the stage with a keynote address emphasizing the pivotal role of entrepreneurship in empowering women. His insights laid the foundation for an event  focused on unlocking the potential of female entrepreneurs.

Panel Discussion – “How to Monetize Your Passion”:

The panel discussion featured successful women who have turned their passions into profitable businesses by sharing their insights and experiences with the audience. The panel was moderated by Yasmin Metz Johnson, the creator of Yasmin Tells, the founder of Tells Trips and Studio Femi, and the director at Mama Lu’s Kitchen. The panelists were Madam Iron-Sky Turay, owner and CEO of Orkusu Organic Herbal Teas, and owner and director of Reunion Freetown. Madam Miatta Marke, co-owner and head chef at Cole Street Restaurant; Mrs. Hawa Turay, Sierra Leone’s first representative to Ms. Universe, CEO of Hawawa Model Management and CEO of Hawawa Boutique; and Madam Latoya Garber, the CEO of Toya’s Creation, CEO and owner of Leone Luxe, and CEO of Luxe assist SL.

Each panelist shared personal stories of turning passion into successful businesses, offering valuable insights into the entrepreneurial journey. The discussion empowered the audience with practical tips, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and perseverance in business. The audience actively engaged with the panel, asking questions and seeking advice, creating a dynamic and inclusive atmosphere.

 

Dare2Aspire Pitch Competition:

 

Eight junior and female entrepreneurs participated in a pitch competition, vying for seed capital provided by Mercury International SL. Winners were announced across two categories:

Senior Category:

Winner: N’yillah Elizabeth Cawray – $2000 for her carpentry business, N’yillah’s Design.

Second Winner: Mariama Mbayoh – $2000 for her real estate locator application.

 

Junior Category:

Winner: Regina Turay – $1000 for “Operation Clean My Community.”

Second Winner: Josephine Quee – $500 for her idea, Jojo’s Design.

 

Closing and Networking:

The event concluded with encouraging words from the judges, fostering a sense of accomplishment among all participants. A networking session provided opportunities for collaboration and partnerships with attending investors.

Guest Speaker’s Insight:

Madam Phebeans Swill, the esteemed guest speaker, delivered insightful statements before the announcement of the results. Her encouraging words resonated with the audience, urging them to persevere and push boundaries in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

Bank of Sierra Leone’s Statement:

The Director of the Bank of Sierra Leone expressed satisfaction with the flourishing entrepreneurial spirit in the country particularly the work of Innovation SL. He commended Dare2Aspire for its inspirational impact on female entrepreneurs. Mr. Sesay highlighted the Global Entrepreneurship Week as a means of supporting the Bank’s mandate through the “Financial Inclusion” portfolio, aiming to provide financial aid. Referring to World Bank reports from 2013, 2014, and 2021, he noted Sierra Leone’s rankings (17%, 20%, and 21%)—indicating a need to address women’s underrepresentation in financial inclusion. BSL data underscores that women in rural communities face significant challenges in the financial sector. Recognizing the need for collaboration, the Bank of Sierra Leone is partnering with Innovation SL, particularly through events like Dare2Aspire during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

 

Conclusion:

Dare2Aspire emerges as a catalyst for empowerment and collaboration in Sierra Leone’s entrepreneurial landscape. Beyond financial rewards, the event’s success lies in the connections made and inspiration shared among participants.

This report encapsulates the achievements of Dare2Aspire and its ongoing contribution to fostering a dynamic and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sierra Leone.

Pamella Haruna