by Thomasina Williams LEADERSHIP 14 enterprising Women S trangers living 4,000 miles apart when they connected on LinkedIn in late 2019, Tsitsi Mutendi and Nike Anani grew up in different worlds. Yet they consider themselves “sisters” in the truest sense of the word—kindred spirits who believe in the power of women, the power of service and the power of collaboration. Mutendi, 37, from Harare, Zimbabwe, and Anani, 33, from Lagos, Nigeria, have yet to meet in person. Nonetheless, they knew from their first telephone conversation that they share a deep passion for improving conditions across Africa and a vision for the role that family businesses must play, given the prevalence of family businesses across the continent. They launched African Family Firms (AFF) shortly after connecting. When the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic halted their plans for a series of in-person events, the two were not deterred. They quickly pivoted and, in 10 days, organized “Family Business 21,” the first global family business online conference. During 21 consecutive days in April 2020, Mutendi and Anani hosted an online conference that featured nearly 90 experts from around the globe, representing a range of disciplines that serve family businesses – family business consultants, lawyers, wealth managers, psychologists, technologists, leadership development coaches, succession planning professionals and more. The free event provided family businesses with a breadth and depth of advice and information they could not have accessed otherwise. It helped them navigate the global crisis created by the pandemic and thrive beyond it. African Family Firms With purpose, passion, and partnership, two trailblazers join forces to transform family businesses in Africa The organization has a four-part mandate: (1) to conduct research and collect data on family businesses across Africa; (2) to offer education and training; (3) to engage in public policy advocacy and (4) to provide an avenue for family businesses to network and build community.