Les Héroïnes Dakar: the commitment of companies to female leadership

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A look back at the first edition of the forum Les Héroïnes Dakar: the new event dedicated to women’s leadership organized by Jeune Afrique media group and its women’s portal, Into The Chic.

Saturday, November 18, at the Radisson Hotel in Dakar, nearly 300 women, executives and entrepreneurs with high potential, attended the first edition of the forum Les Héroïnes. An event dedicated to women’s leadership chaired by Anta Babacar Ngom, CEO of Sedima – one of the leaders in the agri-food industry in Senegal -, Young CEO of the year 2017 at the Africa CEO forum.

A place of exchange for generations of women leaders

The objective of this new meeting is to create a place of exchange capable of bringing together all generations of women leaders. In total, about thirty Senegalese women leaders from various sectors such as energy, telecommunications, finance, agribusiness and consulting shared their know-how and experience.

A successful bet for this first edition, which was able to meet a real demand, as we could hear during the event. « No such event existed in Dakar, » said one of the participants. « The day was full of lessons learned »; it was « inspiring and dynamic », said others.

The same enthusiasm was expressed by the participants: « I saw in many eyes a lot of emotion, surprise, interest, joy, and everywhere, the awareness that the need was there », enthused Marianne Bathily, general manager of EXP, a network of communication agencies composed of 22 structures in Africa. While one of the participants admitted that she no longer felt « alone in her entrepreneurial adventure ».

Young female entrepreneurs in the spotlight

And for good reason, young women entrepreneurs were not left out. Six of them had the opportunity to defend their projects in a call for public vote. Evelyne Ntonga, creator of the Sunu Hope (« our hope ») platform – a non-profit organization for the promotion of blood donation in Senegal – won almost unanimously. And will be offered mentoring by Anta Babacar Ngom.

While a significant amount of time was devoted to panels that addressed specific issues such as the art of balancing professional and personal life – « more than 55% of women consider work/life balance to be essential to achieving their goals, » according to the results of the Senegalese gender barometer presented exclusively that day – the sessions led by 21 mentors were the highlight of the day.

The commitment of large companies

The participants benefited from privileged exchanges with a Senegalese leader from a large company, such as Canal +, Ekobank, UBA Senegal etc. Not to mention the series of workshops led by Beautiful Soul and the Dalberg consulting firm, at the end of which the participants were able to obtain concrete keys to communicate with impact, to conquer their next managerial position, to understand design thinking, the world of entrepreneurship and intrepreneurship etc.

With the support of some twenty partner companies – Sedima, Sonatel, Senelec, Beautiful Soul, Canal, Corsair, Axa, Total – sensitive to the issue of the feminization of positions of high responsibility, the forum « Les héroïnes Dakar » has succeeded in meeting the challenge of raising awareness of women’s leadership in companies.