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SoGal, a global platform for entrepreneurs and investors which aims to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and venture capital (VC), has launched a Johannesburg chapter.
The foundation currently has chapters in 37 cities around the world and over 100 000 members. SoGal was founded in 2014 by Pocket Sun, who along with venture capitalist Elizabeth Galbut Perelman founded and manage millennial VC firm SoGal Ventures in 2017
SoGal Johannesburg chapter lead and analytics startup MomSays co-founder Shanèy Vijendranath describes the foundation as a champion for diversity and inclusion which aims to serve members from all backgrounds, particularly those that are under represented in entrepreneurship.
SoGal plans on launching other chapters in South Africa in the coming months and is looking for chapter leads
Vijendranath says being an entrepreneur in South Africa isn’t easy. She explains that when she came up with the idea behind her startup, she wrongly assumed it would be easy to get the idea off the ground and build something fast.
“What awaited me was tears, negative words and many mountains to climb. When I found out about SoGal, I knew this is something I wanted to be a part of. Their values and mine were the same,” says Vijendranath.
Although SoGal welcomes all genders, Vijendranath believes female founders in South Africa “needed something like this”. “I’m excited to be a part of it,” she says.
Vijendranath says that in South Africa SoGal wants to focus on providing educational resources and curated mentorship in an effort to infiltrate the “boy’s club” at both the local and international level.
She adds that the chapter also seeks to help members with connections to its global network of entrepreneurs and investors.
In addition, SoGal will also provide its members with access to resources at an international level, this she says includes opportunities and education like free webinars and global pitch competitions which she says are otherwise inaccessible to underrepresented entrepreneurs.
“We want to strengthen the community of female founders in South Africa,” says Vijendranath. She says the foundation will connect with entrepreneurs through networking events where it will identify the biggest challenges facing female founders in order to find out how it can assist them.
“That is the big plan,” says Vijendranath.
‘Next stop Durban’
While the organisation is currently focusing on building its network in Johannesburg, Vijendranath points out that its next stop “might just be Durban”.
“We’re currently in conversations to release other chapters in the coming months. We’re so excited to serve the ecosystem overall and always looking for new chapter leads, ecosystem leaders who are passionate about closing the diversity gap,” she says. Those interested in applying can do so here.
SoGal’s Johannesburg chapter launch event — which took place on 9 April — and was held in partnership with BMW Bedfordview saw guests test drive cars and network with each other.
Some of the guests at the event included singer and End Girl Hate founder LeAnne Dlamini, Mrs South Africa 2018 Nicole Capper.
Vijendranath says SoGal wants to focus on running similar “themed” events in a way that will give more local businesses an opportunity to showcase what they do.
“There’s also the SoGal Global Pitch Competition, submissions will open later this year. We are hoping to have regional round in South Africa and are currently looking to connect with angel investors, venture capitalists and companies who would like to support this,” she says.
Featured image: SoGal members at the SoGal Johannesburg chapter launch (Supplied)