In recent years, the igaming industry in Africa has experienced significant growth, with new players entering the market and existing ones expanding their operations. This growth has been accompanied by an increased demand for events that cater to the needs of the industry. Eventus International has emerged as a leading player in this space, hosting successful events that bring together industry experts and stakeholders. Lou-Mari Burnett Eventus International Interview
We sat down with Lou-Mari Burnett, the Chief Operating Officer at the company, to learn more about her journey with Eventus, the role of women in leadership, their plans for the future and explore their success journey. The interview further touched on lessons from past experiences and plans for Eventus International’s upcoming events in Africa and beyond.
iGA: Kindly tell us more about yourself.
Lou-Mari: I am a proudly South African “small-towner” who grew up on the Western Coast of South Africa. While I travel the globe from event to event during the year, I will always call South Africa my true home. I first started my journey with Eventus International back in 2016 and have since assisted in +creating 15 brand new event platforms. I hope to double this in the coming years.
iGA: Congratulations on your recent appointment for the Chief Operating Officer role at Eventus International. How are you finding the new role?
Lou-Mari: I am extremely grateful and proud to step into the role as COO at Eventus International. Since I joined the company back in 2016, the gaming industry has significantly grown for the better, encouraging inclusion and diversity on a global scale. I am proud to say that Eventus International aspires to celebrate inclusion by breaking boundaries to move the industry forward. The new role challenges me in a positive way daily and I am honored to lead our international and proudly diverse team.
iGA: Senior executive positions in most organizations are men-dominated, not just in the gaming industry but in other industries as well. Considering your case, why do you think this trend should change and more women be given senior executive positions in organizations?
Lou-Mari: The underrepresentation of women in senior executive positions is a complex issue that extends beyond the gaming industry and affects various sectors. Women bring unique perspectives and valuable experiences to leadership roles. Talent and leadership potential are not gender-specific, and companies should tap into the full spectrum of available talent.
A diverse leadership team is better equipped to understand and respond to the needs of an equally diverse customer base. This can lead to more effective marketing strategies, enhanced product development, and improved customer relations.
iGA: What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve faced as a woman working in the events industry?
Lou-Mari: I wouldn’t call it a challenge anymore, as I believe it is something we have overcome. As with any other industry, I believe a woman has to work twice as hard to prove herself in the workplace. Catering for a male-dominated industry specifically (events in the igaming sector), we had to stand our ground but couldn’t be too dominating. We had to be confident, but not too stern. We had to be respectable but not unapproachable. We had to network like men but still behave like ladies. We had to be the man, but in a woman’s body.
I believe it has become more naturally acceptable for a woman to be completely herself in a position of power, and voice her opinion without having to defend it. And, I am proud to be a part of pushing this narrative. Lou-Mari Burnett Eventus International Interview
iGA: Could you give us an overview of Eventus International’s growth since its inception?
Lou-Mari: Eventus International was founded in 2010 by our Founder and CEO, Mr. Yudi Soetjiptadi. Since then the company has undergone significant growth and has leveraged itself as one of the top iGaming event hosts in the global industry. We now host 19+ events each year where we cover 4 continents and 19+ countries. And, as for our future plans in regards to our events calendar, we have identified additional markets and regions where we will create brand new event platforms to continue doing what we do best, and that’s connecting leaders with leaders all around the world.
iGA: Eventus International is a reputable organization that primarily serves as a bridge between different industry players. What are some of the significant achievements that have helped the organization establish its footing in the sector today, and what are the major push factors that have contributed to the growth?
Lou-Mari: Hard work and dedication have been some of the most important building blocks for the company, with a team committed to excellence and sustainability, Eventus International has proven that the sky really is the limit. At Eventus International our unwavering commitment is to deliver excellence in every aspect of our events. Recognising that we work with a very diverse range of markets, we place significant emphasis on presenting our platforms to our target audience. We integrate the unique cultural and demographic aspects of each country into the events we host. By truly knowing our customers, we can find the best methods to provide them with the most effective and engaging experience possible. Additionally, Eventus International offers customer centric services, where our team members are available 24/7 to answer any enquiries. We aim to offer our customers the fastest response time possible.
iGA: Since joining Eventus International, has diversity and equality changed within the company? And if yes, how?
Lou-Mari: Eventus International has always been committed to providing a diverse and equal environment, not only for our attendees but within the company itself. As a company, Eventus International recognises individual performance and commitment despite gender. Additionally, during the last year we have increased our overall female employees up to 80%, which really is quite unique within the industry. We have also promoted female employees to leadership positions in the majority of our departments. Lou-Mari Burnett Eventus International Interview
iGA: Current financial times are proving to be difficult for a lot if not all industries around the world. How does Eventus take such matters into consideration for clients who are from countries that are taking major hits financially, considering that potential partners are avoiding collaborations?
Lou-Mari: It’s important to remember that navigating difficult financial times requires agility and adaptability. At Eventus International, we adapt our strategies, demonstrate empathy and flexibility towards our clients and partners, and invest in building resilient relationships that are more likely to weather economic challenges successfully. Additionally, staying well-informed about global economic trends is invaluable when it comes to making informed decisions. We also have strong collaborations with local partners in regions where they possess an in-depth understanding of the economic landscape, enabling us to navigate challenges effectively.
iGA: As Eventus International continues to make major strides in the industry, what are some of the company’s future plans, as well as some of the goals you want to accomplish in the next few years?
Lou-Mari: Following the incredible success of SPiCE India over the past few years, Eventus International has decided to expand its reach in the Asia landscape. We have gradually introduced new editions to the SPiCE series, namely SPiCE Sri Lanka, SPiCE Philippines and now SPiCE International (which will be hosted in the UAE). We anticipate great success for this series and aspire to further expand the SPiCE brand to even more markets in the coming years. As for our other events hosted in America, Africa, and Europe, we are focusing on building our connection and our network in all of our operating countries.
Additionally, Eventus International is planning to expand its events calendar to South America, adding on an event in Costa Rica and another in Mexico. We will cover all continents of the world in 2024 except Antarctica and Oceania… for the time being.
iGA: Speaking of your three main Events in Africa, namely the BiG Africa Summit, Sports Betting East Africa, and Sports Betting West Africa, what prompted the organization to initiate the events, and what are the objectives for the three events, particularly in Africa?
Lou-Mari: Eventus International’s flagship event, The BiG Africa Summit, launched back in 2012 when, our Founder & CEO, Mr. Yudi Soetjiptadi, identified the potential of the South Africa gaming market and created a platform for industry professionals to meet. Knowing that the African continent is incredibly diverse and that all nationalities cannot always easily cross borders, due to visa limitation, travelling costs and logistics, he created the Sports Betting East Africa Summit (to cover the Eastern region) and the Sports Betting West Africa Summit (to cover the Western region). Now respectively, we are offering the 3 event platforms every year in order to make it easier for all nationalities across Africa to make their way to one of these events to connect with like minded professionals.
iGA: Which message has remained consistent across the events held by Eventus International on African territory in terms of the future of the iGaming industry in Africa?
Lou-Mari: Sustainability and growth within the African market. We host our events to give industry leaders a platform to collaborate, discuss, and gain insights into the iGaming sectors in Africa. As a South African team we understand the “spirit of Africa” and we believe in positive change and development within each market where we bring these leaders together.
iGA: Is Eventus International having any plans to come up with events in some regions in Africa and beyond that you have not yet fully exploited? If so, which are some of the regions?
Lou-Mari: Yes, this year we hosted the inaugural Gaming Event Francophone Africa (GEFA) in Casablanca, Morocco, creating a significant platform for meaningful discussions within the French-speaking countries of Africa. Next year, GEFA is scheduled to take place in Accra, Ghana on 23 – 24 April 2024. Although Ghana is not a French-speaking country, the country is well located which will make it easier for participants to travel to. Additionally, we have new plans underway to host another gaming event in Central Africa to be hosted in DRC. We are extremely excited to witness this event expand and explore new avenues within the African market.
iGA: What advice would you give to investors interested in the African iGaming industry, particularly those in game/platform development, sportsbook and casino operators, and other gaming-related fields?
Lou-Mari: The African gaming market is very different from the norm. Although there is a lot of potential in the region, many will say that the industry still has a long way to go in terms of growth and development. Our advice would be to connect with the local professionals, to build and nourish relationships in Africa. The best way to understand a market is to learn first-hand from the previous failures or successes – to know Africa is to be in Africa. Africa is about being resilient, being bold and brave.
The Africa iGaming industry has unlimited potential and we will continue aiming to unveil it at our conferences so potential investors can learn and explore the market with peace of mind. Lou-Mari Burnett Eventus International Interview