The global SoGal initiative has launched a Johannesburg chapter to assist South African female entrepreneurs by connecting them with each other, global entrepreneurs and investors, and resources.
SoGal was founded in 2016 by Pocket Sun as a student group at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, but grew quickly and is now in 40 cities across five continents. A platform for diverse entrepreneurs and investors, it provides resources, education, and community for a network of more than 100,000 people. Alongside Elizabeth Galbut, Sun also co-founded SoGal Ventures, a millennial-focused VC fund.
Shanèy Vijendranath, the co-founder of South African marketing startup MomSays, is the chapter lead for SoGal Johannesburg.
“Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely journey; it is therefore important to have a good support system. Over the last few months, I have connected with many entrepreneurs like myself who are craving for collaboration and networking sessions with other entrepreneurs,” she said.
“For me, its collaboration over competition. We as entrepreneurs in South Africa need to support and motivate each other more. There is so much that we can learn from each other about things like pitching and marketing.”
As a female founder in South Africa, Vijendranath said she had found there were not enough networking opportunities for entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate and mentor each other.
“When I came across SoGal and saw what they were achieving globally, I knew that this is something that would thrive in South Africa,” she said.
She decided to contact the global team, and after an interview session was appointed as chapter lead for Johannesburg. Its launch event was a driving experience with BMW Bedfordview, with SAMA winner LeAnne Dlamini, also the founder of End Girl Hate, guest speaker.
“SoGal doesn’t care about hosting fancy events, our aim is to create a platform where entrepreneurs can come together to connect and network. We really want to focus on running a few “themed” events like we did with our launch event and get more local businesses involved to showcase what they do,” Vijendranath said.
“We are all about building the community so we will host a few intimate events throughout the year and then hopefully, host a bigger event at the end of the year where we find an entrepreneur from South Africa to represent us at the SoGal Global competition next year in San Francisco.”
Through its events, SoGal Johannesburg aims to get an idea of what the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs in South Africa are, and see how it can assist even further.
“We really want to focus on providing the educational resources and curated mentorship needed in an effort to infiltrate the “boy’s club” at both the local and international level – using the power of SoGal which is in the hyper-local micro-communities for very curated education to meet the needs of these specific communities,” Vijendranath said.
The initiative will also work to connect South African entrepreneurs with entrepreneurs and investors at a global level, and provide access to resources such as free webinars, live streams and global pitch competitions.
“SoGal allows access to opportunities and education otherwise inaccessible to underrepresented entrepreneurs,” said Vijendranath.
“We want to strengthen the community of female founders in South Africa. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done but it can only happen if we work together.”
Vijendranath said SoGal is planning to expand to more cities in South Africa, with interested parties able to apply here.