Grounded in the idea that gender inequality is an issue that affects all people—socially, economically and politically. It seeks to actively involve men and boys in a movement that was originally conceived as “a struggle for women by women”.
The HeForShe movement is gathering momentum globally as a cohort of select leaders from both the public and private sectors join the drive and stand out as visionaries on gender equality.
On behalf of Standard Bank Group, Chief Executive Sim Tshabalala, has become one of the global “Thematic Champions” in the HeForShe movement. These leaders have committed to implementing game-changing policies and concrete actions towards gender parity.
“Achieving gender equity is a moral duty, a business imperative, and just plain common sense. Women embody half the world’s talent, skill and energy – and more than half of its purchasing power.
So every sensible business leader must be committed to achieving gender equity in their company and to contributing to gender equity in the societies in which we operate,” says Tshabalala.
In the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap report, it is estimated that it will take more than 217 years to achieve workplace equality after gender parity took a step backward in the past year.
Concrete commitments made by Standard Bank Group in order to bring about tangible change include:
Reaching parity in executive positions and to improve the representation of women in executive positions from its current 32% to 40% by 2023.
Lift the representation of women on the Board from 22% to 33% by 2021.
Standard Bank is also committed to increasing the representation of women Chief Executives in its Africa Regions network from 10% to 20% by 2021, while Standard Bank South Africa will improve the representation of women in executive positions from the current 35% to 40% by 2021.
While progress has been made in certain countries in Africa to close gender gaps, others remain behind the curve. Namibia and South Africa both score in the Top 20 in the WEF global report on gender equality – after closing 78% to 76% of their gender gaps – but Sub-Saharan Africa still displays a wider range of gender gap outcomes than practically any other region.
Launched by Emma Watson and the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2014, HeForShe represented the first global effort to actively include men and boys as change agents for gender equality at a time when most gender programs were only targeting women.
The U.N. recently reported that nearly 20 percent of women surveyed said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the previous year.
Originally conceived as a one-year media campaign to raise awareness about the role of men and boys in gender equality, the HeForShe website garnered more than 100,000 male supporters in its first three days.
These males affirmed their commitment to the cause by declaring themselves “HeForShe” and saying that gender equality is not just a women’s issue. Early adopters included a clutch of celebrities and politicians, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and actor Matt Damon.
Since then, 1.6 million men have signed up online, including at least one man in every country of the world, and its “Impact Champions” include the presidents of Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, and Indonesia, among several other heads of state.
The issue has also been the subject of 2 billion conversations on social media.
But HeForShe is not without its critics. Many in the gender equality community say they would like to see the movement make more concrete demands of its male champions, and have called for civil society to play a greater role in developing and monitoring the movement.
“Now is a good moment for reflection and discussion about HeForShe, which has achieved high visibility, clear successes, and also drawbacks,” said Gary Barker, co-founder of Promundo, an NGO working to engage men and boys for gender equality, which has advised the HeForShe campaign since its launch three years ago.
“Having that amount of reach and star power on board means there’s huge potential, but we need to harness it before the movement loses momentum … [and] we need to push UN Women to go further and ask more of men,” he added.
Juka Ceesay was born and raised in The Gambia, Africa. She initially moved to the U.S to pursue accounting, modeling and acting. She was signed to one of the largest agencies for several years before she decided to fully focus on building a company that would help individuals, families, and villages throughout Africa.
Therefore, she launched Juka’s Organic and partnered with female farmers to produce and cultivate the finest quality of Coconut Oil and Babao powder.
Juka’s Organic is most popularly known for their Red Palm Oil, which the company offers pure and unrefined in a jar, in pill form for easier consumption and in their latest and popular Red Palm Oil sauce.
Juka recently visited the women she partners with, in Africa and got to witness the long-term and growing impact her brand has been making in the Gambia, Mali amongst other villages throughout the continent.
The company consists of her, her mother and a small team running daily operations from both Africa and in the U.S. She recently launched a deal with Walmart and her products are now available via Walmart’s website and in super region locations in the U.S.
In this article, Juka speaks to SLA about how she’s taken her products from Africa to the world.
About Juka’s Organic…
Juka’s Organic Co. is Something invigorating, innovative, inspiring and wants to make a huge difference in the lives of people across the globe. We offer natural, healthy foods and beauty products to the American consumers from the continent of Africa that are not customarily accessible in the U.S market.
All our products are 100% sustainable and ethically harvested. Our focal point is to also help the African farmers, particularly women, to supply their natural healthy products to the U.S market and around the world.
My Inspiration to create Juka’s Organic…
I owned and managed an African food market in Inglewood, Califonia, for several years. I realized there weren’t many African stores that opened their doors to the American consumers, everything was segregated and only African customers find themselves shopping in our stores.
But seldom, the U.S customers we had were often fascinated by our products. This is when I knew something had to be done to bridge this gap. Also, we offered many of our products in the store amongst which we sold red palm oil. Most of our products were imported from the villages, including the red palm oil, hence the quality was superior to many brands in the market.
People were really amazed by the authenticity of the oil and the consistency. This is around the same time Dr. Oz talked about the importance of adding red palm oil to your diet. But also, he has talked about many tips on his show that included products that were indigenous to Africa.
It all came full circle, I always wanted to bring Africa to mainstream to contribute to its Economy. This is when the magic started unfolding, I soon made the decision to cynosure my attention to importing natural food and beauty products from Africa, harvested by women farmers.
Knowing that this will not only benefit the African framers but it will also be of great service to health-conscious consumers that do not have access to some of these essential foods in the west. This is how Juka’s Organic Co. came to fruition.
Juka’s Organic Co. plays a tremendous role in the lives of women we work within the villages and in Africa at large. We help them secure their own source of income throughout the year and grow their businesses.
When we partner with these women, they know they can harvest products in large quantities and we are there to work with them through the process, as they often have issues with capital. Most of them used to produce just a small amount because if not, they would have a surplus in the market.
Although most of these products grow in the wild, it still costs them money to obtain the products. They pay up front for the labor that they can’t do themselves and other logistics to get the products from point A to B.
When we partner with them we fund them upfront to take care of the whole process including the cost of labor and their profit. They can also sustainably and comfortably harvest as much as possible without having the fare of surplus in the market which can lead to a loss.
Most of these women in the villages have no other ways to maintain a decent income to pay for their children’s education or to simply put food on the table, so it is quite fulfilling to see them grow together with us. As we expand our consumer base this also means expansion for them in farming, business, and for a better livelihood.
Tips for aspiring female entrepreneurs coming to tackle the U.S market…
Find something you’re are passionate about, believe, and know that it takes a process. Don’t just do something for the drive of money. There will be times you might need something else to motivate you in the right direction and that the money might not be there right away. The only way to sustain that mission will be the passion you have for what you are doing.
Do your homework. This will help you balance the passion to know that there is indeed consumer base for what you are passionate about. You also don’t want to do things just because you are passionate about it. Make sure not to get in a market base that is already saturated, and harder to penetrate as a startup.
Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t work out as planned. Know that sometimes you might have the intention for a business or get into a sector but if it doesn’t go in your favor right away, be open-minded.
Always do your best and believe in the process of life and allow things to manifest naturally after your best is done.
My motivation to build and grow the company relentlessly each day…
The passion I have keeps me going. The vision that this is bigger than me. It is about the customers that turn to us daily for a healthier alternative.
The Jainaba Barrys of Guinea, The Fofanas of Mali, that child in the village that needs education, and a better future in a village called Sohkon in Senegal or Farafenie in the Gambia.
But this cannot transpire if his/her family is struggling to maintain their business and put food on the table. As well as the Farmers that expect to see us a few times a year to buy their products.
This is for the whole continent of Africa, yes, we started small but the growth we are experiencing can have a ripple effect on the growth of the continent. We are in a very inviting yet competing for marketplace globally, but Africa is still behind in many ways.
Through sustainable trade with the many resources Africa offers, we can help elevate the livelihoods of many farmers in the villages.
We can provide the gift of a long and healthier lifestyle to the Western consumers with authentic natural healthy food and beauty products that are not indigenous to the West.
My journey like coming from Africa and into the U.S becoming a businesswoman…
It has been challenging yet eye-opening and filled with tremendous opportunities. I come from a large family, and both my mom and dad are business owners in Africa. In particular, my dad did very well.
My grandpa was also a very successful business owner. So, coming into the U.S, not knowing what endeavor I was originally going to pursue, falling into the business world is quite fitting and natural to me.
Also, my mom was a very strict woman and she always made sure I was on the right path as a child and a teenager. This helped me immensely throughout my journey. The structure and discipline to follow through are still very well fostered in me in business and my life in general.
My daily routine as a business owner…
It is quite demanding, vigorous and can get challenging at times. But I wouldn’t change a thing about the experience. It is fulfilling and rewarding to wake up every day to do what I love to do.
There are many different layers to this, and responsibilities change depending on the time of the year. We are blessed to have great people that work with us from all angles but I still must make sure all things are being handled to the utmost satisfaction to maintain quality in products and service.
Whether we are dealing with shipments coming in from Africa, sourcing for new items, or visiting Africa to meet with farmers or new suppliers. Or simply dealing with production and or distribution, it all falls on my desk as the company owner.
And I always must withstand all odds no matter how small or big.
The most important pillars in being a successful entrepreneur…
For me I know there are many pillars but the first pillar is your own state of mind. Often people neglect this part but it is the most crucial pillar to maintain in order to be successful in all things you do.
Now different people practice various things to give them a clear state of mind or a conscious mind. But it really doesn’t matter how if you are able to do it all the time.
Dealing with obstacles in business, from the day to day activities, production, or dealing with customers (wholesale or retail accounts) you always must be grounded and level-headed for things to yield the best outcome or results.
When you have no balance, you can keep your business going but soon it can crumble. So always realize that you are the center, you are the foundation of it all and your business needs you to always have a clear mind and not to get intimidated with problems or people.
Stay centered and tackle issues as they arise and celebrate achievements from a grounded level. Once you can master this you can pretty much climb all other pillars much easier.
Some challenges I’ve faced or currently face as a female entrepreneur…
I face many just as a business owner but of course being a woman also has contributed to some issues I have faced and continue to face. Especially when you look a certain way.
People don’t initially take your ideas or demand serious and you always must be more affirmative in your requests more than if a guy were to make the same request. This is very troubling because the substance of what you are saying should carry more leverage than your gender.
I also find it challenging, being a woman and having to witness some of our women farmers to be looked at as incompetent of certain duties in Africa because of the culture. But we as a company must sometimes address these issues when we partner with new farmers.
It is obvious that society has come a long way in the way we women are looked at. But we certainly have a long way to go. But the more we openly talk about them, the more we can evolve.
How I managed to maneuver through those challenges…
I stay the course and know in the back of mind what my mission and vision are.
As I said before, Juka’s is bigger than myself. And when you feel and know something is bigger than you, it seems as if there is an external force that guides you through the process.
I certainly know that it’s not me making all this happen. There is something, a higher power, God, Allah, the Universe, The Divine or whatever you want to call it but it is certain, it’s more forceful than myself.
Juka’s Organic just has my name attached to it but it’s not mine, it’s for the continent of Africa, the betterment for the livelihoods of thousands of people and hopefully, millions soon both here in the West & the Motherland, Africa.
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A lot has been said about women entrepreneurs in Kenya.
Women have distinguished themselves and we have trailblazers like Tabitha Karanja of Keroche Industries, Flora Mutahi of Melvin’s Tea, Gina Din Kariuki of Gina Din Communications, JudithOwingar of AkiraChix, Lorna Rutto of Eco posts, Ruth Mwanzia of Koola Waters, Shikha Vincent of Shikazuri and Michelle Ntalami of Marini Naturals to name a few.
Entrepreneurship is mainly about business skills, determination, resilience, networking, and social impact. Women are working their way into this area and are slowly but surely making headway.
A lot of focus and support has been given to women entrepreneurs through grants, training, access to finance and favorable government policies like Access to Government Procurement (AGPO) to name a few. More women are encouraged to participate in this sector.
Women in the corporate world have an uphill task to get their place and break all the glass ceilings. Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, in her book LEAN IN, gives insights into what the life of a woman in corporate America is and how to maneuver it.
According to Fortune.com, there were 27 women at the helm of Fortune 500 companies as at January 2018. How about corporate Kenya?
I admire women in the corporate world because apart from the normal barriers they encounter and overcome, boys club mentality, patriarchy, high technical skills, experience, glass ceiling mentality (Gender stereotyping), sexual harassment, inflexible working conditions and integrity.
The corporate world is harsh and cutthroat. The impact is mostly measured in terms of PROFITS and PROFITS. Only recently have corporates embraced a wider scale to measure the impact of CEO’s to include social impact, teamwork, employee innovation and customer retention to name a few.
This shift gives women a chance to shine as their natural skills of collaboration and teamwork are an asset.
Entrepreneurship is forgiving on the requirements of higher education and experience. A person with a basic education can quickly become a business mogul. However, in the corporate world, experience and education have a lot of weight.
The current trend to consider leadership, softer skills and strategic leadership has made it more accessible for women.
Due to gender roles and social pressure, many women in the past were not in a position to access higher education and therefore did not get promotions to enable them to rise up.
Currently, women are taking up chances to improve their education hence giving them more edge to compete in the corporate world. Experience is a matter of time; men had an advantage of this. In the last 20 years, women have proved that given a fair chance they too climb the corporate ladder right up to the top.
Why do we need women in CEO positions?
People in the corporate world manage a large amount of money and direct how it is used. Gender diversity has also been proven over the years to increase profits and performance of corporations.
Therefore, further inclusion of women has been proved to attract talent in the boardrooms where innovative solutions are created. Invariably more women-friendly products and policies emerge from companies that are managed by women. After all, women are 50% of the consumers of products and services.
The simple fundamental reason why women should be in the corporate world is that it’s fair and inclusive to do so.
In Kenya, we have many distinguished ladies at the helm of corporates and organizations. This has increased recently, but to date, only 2 women lead corporations listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange i.e. Maria Msiska of BOC (until 2016) and Nasim Devji of DTB Bank. We can do better.
Here are examples of Women CEO’s in Kenya:
Jennifer Ririais a pioneer of women in CEO position and has been holding this and similar positions in the microfinance and banking industry for 20 years. She is the CEO of Kenya Women Holdings that has a subsidiary Kenya Women microfinance Bank which is a leading bank for women entrepreneurs. She is a Ph.D. holder and has a Degree and Master degree as well.
Stella Njunge: CEO of Sanlam Life, part of Sanlam Kenya Group. She has over 15 years’ experience in the insurance industry, a CPA(K), CPS(K), and holds a degree and masters. Stella also has over 16 years’ experience in Insurance.
Catherine Karimi: CEO of APA Life part of Apollo Group a leading insurer in Kenya. She has 18 years’ experience in Insurance industry, a degree, postgraduate certificate in Actuarial Studies, and is a member of Chartered Insurers (UK).
Rita Kavashe: is the CEO of General Motors East Africa, Kenya with 35 years’ experience working at GM. She has a degree and postgraduate certificates and rose through the ranks.
Phyllis Wakiaga:is theCEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers. She has a law degree, Higher Diploma in Law and Human Resource Management, Master Degrees in International Trade and Investment Law and Business Administration.
There are many more female CEO’s in Kenya. The common items in their profiles are EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE. This is a true testament that education is an equalizer.
Given equal opportunity and based on merit, women can excel and are excelling in the corporate world. Girls need to be encouraged to plan their career path early to help them reach the top CEO positions to bridge the current gap.
I look forward to more women taking up the CEO roles and reducing the barriers to getting there.
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So, you’re in school and you want to go into entrepreneurship? Cool! I like playing dangerous too.
Gone are the days of waiting after graduation and getting a job. Gone are the days of “business is for uneducated people”.
Come on, you and I know better and frankly, starting a business when you are in school is probably one of the best ideas. It gives you time to prepare for “post-school” days. Starting a business is never easy, but here are a few tips to help you get started and stay on the hustle.
First, get the idea!
You can either be innovative by starting something new or redefining something old. Usually, most student campuses are filled up with people peddling the same wares in the same manner.
If your idea is based on an already existing idea, then you should be one step ahead of those already in the business by having a modification.
New ideas are always fresh.
Analyze the demand rate for your product (goods or services). This can be done either by studying the existing market for an already existing idea or carrying out a mini survey for a new idea.
You should be sure of your target market, which should mostly be students. But also consider, do you provide services for the non-student members of the community? Make sure your idea has no legal implications.
How much technical know-how is needed in the business? How much do you know or can you provide? Do you have what it takes?
Should you first acquire certain knowledge and skills? Do you have the time to see it through?
These are some of questions you need to ask yourself when self-evaluating.
Research the competition
No, this is not spying or “copy-catting”. This is purely a form of business survey.
Some of the important things to research include, who your competitors are, any similarities in business (yours and theirs) and how long they have been in business.
How do they relate with their customers? What is their price range? et investigating and uncover these facts about the competition.
You remember this… (s)he who fails to plan, plans to fail?
You might think you’re an expert in the field you plan on venturing into, but if you do not make concrete plans, you are just an over experienced failure waiting to happen.
I want to debunk the notion most student entrepreneurs have about starting a business in school and ending it after school. Except you are only into business as a means to pay the bills and not interested in expanding what will become your brand, then you shouldn’t think of a business that will stop after graduation.
Most successful #MotherlandMoguls started in school and grew it from there. So, your business plan should have room for growing the brand outside and after school.
Is this a one woman venture or a partnership? Your partner can either be someone who has been there from the word go and is willing to invest time and money, or someone who started with you but wants to only invest money. She can also be someone you pair up with later on.
Is it necessary to have a business partner? The nature of the business will determine that. If it is a service providing business like home cleaning services, then the answer is yes. You will need a partner, if not at the beginning, then later on.
Let’s talk money
I know this is a the one that will probably interest you the most.
Where do you get money for your business? Well, this should also be in your business plan. Here are some sources you can raise money from:
Personal savings- You should have savings, everybody should.
Donations from family and friends
Loans- check to see the types of loans available to you as a student and the general ones you’re eligible for.
No one works as hard as an African mother. I should know because I was raised by one. You see them everywhere, trying to build new businesses from the farm, to the market place, to distributing companies and high-rise malls, to boardrooms and to the top of multi-national companies. Mothers are the epitome of perseverance, the backbone of our society, really. Mom aside, I was also brought up by more than five aunties! I know there are some entrepreneurial tips that we all need to follow from these marvelous older women. These are age-old tips that work anywhere, and have seen our mothers and their mothers through tides of disasters and of plenty.
In business, your reputation is everything. Without a good reputation, your future businesses are worthless really. This is greater than branding, dear ladies. A reputation speaks to your character, and is bound to outshine all however much you brand yourself or your company. It is the core of who you are.
Get a good reputation and guard it with everything you have. Be a woman of your word, conduct your affairs with dignity, have good products and services. You know…reputation.
Appeal to self-interest in business
This is where most aspiring #MotherlandMoguls go wrong. I get that we are emotional beings but when making a deal, never play to mercy or pity. A Motherland Mogul never grovels, not when you know you can bring something to the table. And it does not matter whether it is the centerpiece or the whole darn table.
If you always find a way to ensure the other party can benefit, the deal is yours. That is how barter trade worked for years. If it was good enough for our ancestors, it should serve the purpose well for us. Afterall, we are here due to them.
Keep people guessing
The easiest way to fall in a rut is being predictable in business. While there is some good in being consistent, predictability points more to actions than products or services. It encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and actually be out there. It means partnering up with people that are not like you and learning new things.
Why else do you think women form small funding groups that bring together people of various professions and backgrounds? If it works for your personal life, why can’t it do so in business? Always keep an air of unpredictability. That way, no one ever sees you coming and the traps are definitely fewer.
Never retreat, never surrender
Our mothers run the household. No matter how big it is, no matter how much work is, you are sure that your mother will leave everything at the door and be your mother. If there is punishment to be delivered, it will be delivered. And she never lets her children see her overwhelmed or tired. Why is it then, that when some of us go to work, we carry unnecessary baggage that distracts us the whole time?
Then we actually end up doing nothing at work. We end up frustrated and are grumpy to our families when we go back home. Some household issues like worrying when laundry will be done or planning the meal for the next day calls for some serious time management. And when you’re at work, let it be no retreat, no surrender for things that are worth it.
We often look for business strategies elsewhere while in truth, they are right in front of us. Staring right into our faces, like our mothers often do. And yes, the pun was very much intended.
African women are naturally inventive, creative, and entrepreneurial – we aren’t the idle type. We work with our hands, minds, and wits. We find things we’re good at —even if it’s just a hobby.
If you’ve been to Makola market, in Ghana, you’ve seen the endless rows of stalls, tables, kiosks and booths of market women selling everything from baby diapers to tomatoes. There are usually rows of women selling the exact same thing within yards of each other. It struck me how they made a reasonable living selling goods and produce in a market that’s saturated with other merchants selling the same things.
Rather than dwell on the mysteries of Makola, I saw the poetry in their ways and learned a few lessons about business and life from these hardworking women.
1. Auntie Yaa shows up every single day
Auntie Yaa knows she has severe competition, after all, there’s nothing new under the sun. But in a crowded marketplace, victory goes to the person dedicated enough to show up every single day.
For many market women, like Auntie Yaa, that little stall of sundry provisions is all they have. Consistency is key. Their one chance of affording life’s bare necessities are contingent upon waking up earliest, showing up every day, and hustling like their lives depend on it.
2. Sisi Lola makes her presentation count
Sisi Lola knows when it comes to drawing in customers, it’s all about presentation. In a crowded market, your brand presentation is everything! Make sure your brand is visually pleasing and effectively communicates your message, and not just the product or service you’re selling but yourself, too.
Personal branding is very important in today’s global marketplace. The woman with the brightest Bubu, or the catchiest call, wins.
3. Learn to barter like Aminatta
Aminatta knows the value of trading without money. Exchanging what you have or your services, for needed services from another, is a good way to get your business off the ground and build connections with other business women.
Pay if you must, but barter if you can.
4. Mama Hajara keeps ‘em coming back with stellar customer service
A market is a busy place and everywhere, vendors are harping, buyers are haggling, and traffic is passing. Mama Hajara can bank on daily success because she keeps her customers coming back for superb customer service.
She goes beyond pleasantries and makes each one of her customers feel like a good friend. She knows their names, the names of their children, she may even know where they live. She stays in business by encouraging loyalty through friendliness. There’s no better way to ensure customer loyalty than stellar customer service.
5. Auntie Gloria keeps a Tight grip on her money belt
If there’s one thing you know about successful market women, it’s that they use knots in their cloth to manage their money. Being able to put your money in buckets allows you to see how much money is coming in and budget for continued business success.
Auntie Gloria keeps separate knots for covering costs, profit, savings, and business reinvestment and growth. Being financially savvy about your business is key to being a successful entrepreneur.
So Motherland Moguls, which hustle tactic can you start using to grow your business? Have any additional lessons to share?