She Leads Africa in collaboration with Darling (Godrej Africa) champion young African women across Africa through the year-long “Confidence in Action” campaign starting in August 2021.
The campaign includes exciting initiatives like “Pass Me The Mic”- a dedicated video course series, the “Confidence In Action” virtual summits and “The Moment I” podcast featuring prominent African women and a pilot program to support entrepreneurs.
She Leads Africa is renowned for providing young African women with the tools and resources for success in their personal and professional lives. The campaign takes the vision a step further with Darling, a brand that is equally passionate about the success of African women. Darling helps African women present as their best selves physically and mentally and has committed to supporting partners who share that vision through its products and campaigns.
Ibironke Ugbaja, Regional Head of Marketing at Darling Africa says,
“We are really excited to work with She Leads Africa on the Confidence-In-Action campaign. Darling loves to see African women exude confidence and support them in going for their dreams and winning wherever they find themselves. We will encourage them through this project, and let them know they have it in them to go for it! That’s the goal, to help you ‘Find Your Beautiful.’”
The “Confidence in Action” collaboration aims to inspire young African women to take brave steps in their careers, businesses and personal lives. Through the campaign, young African women get to see themselves and their struggles with self-confidence reflected by African women from different walks of life and get insight on how to overcome these issues.
Another important goal of the campaign is to highlight that status or achievement does not prevent women from experiences issues with confidence. Thus, “The Moment I” video and audio podcast series features notable African women from countries like Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa as they speak about their journey of building self-confidence. Features include veteran Nigerian actress Nse-Ikpe Etim, South African media powerhouse Nomndeni Nonhle Mdakhi and more.
As Kofo Adebiyi, VP Content at She Leads Africa says,
“Young African women are incredibly ambitious, skilled and have a great deal to offer the world. Despite how awesome we are, we all struggle with moments of self-doubt. “Confidence in Action” is a unique year-long project to support women through these moments. We’re honoured to have a committed partner like Darling with us through the process. For me, Confidence in Action has been about making bold asks and constantly challenging what I think the limits are. I hope that through this project, women across Africa learn what Confidence in Action looks like for them and make bold moves at work, school and wherever they find themselves across the world.”
From August 2021, information about the campaign courses, podcast episodes and the summits will be shared via the She Leads Africa website, Instagram page and newsletter.
Darling is a global hair brand dedicated to providing African women with the trendiest styles and highest quality of hair at the best possible price. Darling is a subsidiary of Godrej Consumer Products.
More about She Leads Africa
She Leads African is a global media company that connects smart African women to resources, tools and advice to help them live their best personal and professional lives.SLA reaches more than 800,000 women across 35+ countries and 5 continents and has been featured in the Financial Times, Forbes, BBC, CNN, CNBC Africa, Black Enterprise and Huffington Post.
Teach For Kenya is one of many independent chapters of the Teach For All Non-Profit organization, that is currently being set up in Nairobi, Kenya by Yukabeth Kidenda who is both its CEO and founder.
Passionate about education and mentorship, Yukabeth is on a mission to build a movement of ethical leaders to drive reforms in Kenya’s education ecosystem.
In this article, Yukabeth talks about her passion for teaching and her dream for education in Kenya.
What inspired the Teach For Kenya initiative?
Teach for Kenya is not the first of its kind, there are actually 50 other partner networks that exist all over the world.
Teach For All was started by Wendy Kopp, an American who actually started it as Teach For America initially. Her inspiration came from coming face to face with the inequities in education in her hometown and feeling a burden in her heart to help bridge those gaps.
From the success of that, she decided to replicate the model across other countries.
When I was done with college, I decided to take a gap year and went to serve as a teacher in Honduras, Central America.
That entire year was 365 of the happiest days of my life. I came back home, but for one and a half years, I couldn’t find a job.
That really made me question everything that I had believed. For a long time, I had this belief that education was what gets you to be successful.
I questioned that notion a lot and began to think –
How come the education that I received didn’t prepare me for this slump on the road?
How come this great education made me sit at home for over a year jobless?
Why didn’t it help me sell myself to a potential employer?
That is when things in my mind changed, I don’t want to just help people get access to education, I want to help them get access to QUALITY education that will enable them to thrive in this 21st century.
That’s why I dedicated my life to working in educational organizations.
I started with adult learning and corporate training, then worked with Microsoft with their education team to push ICT training and certification.
Thereafter I joined Metis where I was running a fellowship program for educators across all sectors and went on to work with the African Leadership Group as a leadership facilitator and now getting ready to launch Teach For Kenya.
I had been mulling over this with one of my mentors, Kennedy Odede for about one and a half years and by the beginning of 2019, I just decided to get on with it and actually do something. I think right now the country is ripe for such a great innovation and I’m glad to be at the forefront of it.
Why is education important to you?
I have a vast background in education, all the way back to my time in high school when my mother was diagnosed with cancer.
My parents really valued education a lot and still do, my siblings and I all went to very good schools. My mother’s illness did take a financial toll on the family but one thing I took note of, was that my father did not make us switch schools at any point.
We could have saved so much money by going to other schools that were not as costly and I could not understand why he chose to make that sacrifice. As I got older I realized the kind of doors that getting a good education and being exposed to that kind of learning could open for me.
During my university years, I approached my dad and told him that I want to support other people who don’t have people rooting for them the way he rooted for us.
My dad and I soon started doing a lot of projects in the community, going out to various areas, providing books, toiletries, things that just make the learning environment more habitable and more comfortable for the students.
That really generated the passion I have had since then to do more in the education field.
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3. How is it going with putting together the launch?
It’s been a scary, engaging, challenging but exciting process all the same. One thing that has worked in my favor, is that this is my dream job. I’ve always wanted to work with people who don’t have anybody cheering them on and supporting them.
Teach For Kenya puts me in that unique position where I have basically taken the responsibility to run this organization that will help mentor recent graduates and put them in a position where they come face to face with the challenges facing their community, transitioning them on to the alumni face of the program and watching them go out into the world to impact and join initiatives that are seeking to address these challenges.
So I’d say right now that the education space in Kenya is very ripe. There are so many people who are very receptive to the idea of Teach For Kenya, and think it’s been a long time coming so the support has been overwhelming in a good way.
I plan to pilot this program with our first 20 fellows in January 2021 so what I’m focusing on right now is doing community research and going out into the areas where we will potentially get to speak to the communities, the teachers, students, and parents and find out what their needs are and how our skills can best match those needs.
It’s a lot of work but I feel like all of us as citizens of this country and this continent needs to do our part, this is me right now choosing to do my part.
I hope this encourages anyone who may think that their part may be too small – we’re all pieces in a puzzle of a beautiful bigger picture and by doing our part, we are working one day at a time to transform this country into one of the best.
With over 800,000 children in Kenya out of school, what do you think is a probable solution to this problem?
I’ll be very honest and say I really don’t have a solution myself but I will say that in everything that is done, there are pros and cons.
One of the reactions I remember that members of the community did was to start low cost private schools in the slum areas. These particular schools don’t have as much support as the government schools have.
The schools provided increased access to education at low costs but the level of accountability was reduced as a single teacher is not able to keep track of about 100 students alone.
What we need to do is champion more for the increase in the disbursement of resources especially to public schools, to enable them to absorb that high influx of students but also increase the level of accountability with teachers.
This goes back to a motivation issue because yes, they have more students to look out for but who is looking out for the teachers? That’s one thing that Teach For Kenya is really keen about – we want to celebrate and dignify the teaching profession because none of us would be where we are if it wasn’t for our teachers.
We need to place a bigger focus on teachers, building capacity for teachers, allocating bigger budgets to that sector.
We still have a lot of untrained teachers who are unemployed right now but the government just doesn’t have enough funds to train and employ them.
Children being out of school is a big issue and with Teach For Kenya, we really are committed to sending out more people to act as aspirational role models in the classrooms to try and dignify the teaching profession.
We will be recruiting recent graduates from every profession, we’ll have lawyers, engineers, musicians, etc in the classroom teaching.
That way, when a child looks up at their teacher, they will look at him/her with awe and because even after 4 years of law school, he/she still thinks it’s cool to be a teacher.
Which teacher/s in your life had the biggest impact on you?
I’d like to mention my high school principal – Mrs. Mbaya. I was always one of those well-performing kids in school, but I also did well in being naughty.
For most teachers, those two character traits could never reconcile, but for Mrs. Mbaya, I was just acting like a normal child. She made me feel like it was okay to be smart in class and also be a bit naughty.
When I got so much backlash from other teachers, she was the one person on my side. We had such a great bond that she would invite me to her house for tea over the school holidays, I really felt seen and understood by her.
Because of that, I was able to thrive in school. All the backlash I was constantly getting would have forced me to decide what part of the spectrum I wanted to be in, but thanks to her I successfully managed to be naughty and brainy until the end of my time at that school.
I am someone who loves people a lot so everywhere I have been, I have fallen in love with the people there.
For example, my kindergarten principal, Ms. Mildred Obuye, is still my friend to this day, we are now working in the education space together and we collaborate on various projects together.
All through my life though, my greatest teachers have been my parents, I can attribute 98% of what I have learned in life to them.
They are the greatest embodiment of what a teacher should be in this life which is engaging and willing to make a genuine human connection with a student.
What do you foresee for the future of education in Kenya?
Right now there are so many amazing things happening in the education space. Everyone is beginning to plant their small seeds of change with so many privately owned education ventures already taking off in Kenya.
It’s a great time to be alive as an educator in Kenya, we saw Peter Tabichi win the Global Teacher Prize and it shows that we are on the map and that it’s the right time to nurture those seeds that we have planted to continue the fight.
Kenyans are beginning to think outside the box, they are taking risks and being disruptive and what I can say to that is – keep doing what you’re doing. I’m really excited for all the innovation that is happening for all the alternative education systems.
What are your thoughts on homeschooling versus traditional schooling methods?
To speak for myself, I think it’s best that you find what works for you and for your child. This means connecting and knowing your child, understanding what they want and what they need and figuring out if it’s you who will be able to give it to them or the traditional school.
So I wouldn’t say I prefer the traditional system over homeschooling or vice versa but I would just say the center of education needs to be the learner, connect with the learner, find out their needs and then put them in the best place that would be able to satisfy those needs.
What mantra do you live by?
Honesty – You need to be honest in your dealings
Humility – You need to be humble because if you’re not you’ll never be able to hire people who are smarter than you to join your team and get you to success
Responsibility – We all have a responsibility first because God put us on this earth for a reason and we are responsible for the positions that we find ourselves in.
Prayer – This is what has gotten me through everything in my life. My biggest supporter and cheerleader has been God, he has been my best friend through this whole journey and prayer is how I connect with him.
This month of July, we’re telling stories about boss ladies breaking boundaries, and how you also can hit your #BossLadyGoals. Got a boss lady story to share with us? Click here.
Her entrepreneurial instincts kicked in after looking around stores for makeup that suited her African skin and didn’t find any.
With no prior knowledge in manufacturing makeup, but armed with a passion, Nelly started her journey that birthed Pauline Cosmetics (named after her mother) after three years of learning, research, and trials.
Pauline Cosmetics is a makeup brand that designs, develops and manufactures makeup products with the African woman in mind.
The brand has now grown to become an established makeup brand with a line of lipstick, lip-gloss, eye shadow, and mascara.
Enter Caroline Mutoko, a celebrated renowned media personality, a woman of her own caliber.
With more than 20 years of experience in the media, her name speaks for her in the Kenyan entertainment industry. Caroline Mutoko also has a YouTube channel where she takes the spotlight that is on her and shines it on you.
In 2017, she was featuring Kenyan women who were making strides and shattering glass ceilings on her YouTube channel. One of these women happened to be Nelly Tuikong of Pauline Cosmetics.
In November 2018, Caroline Mutoko challenged Nelly to work with her to come up with a lipstick line for all the women who are ‘becoming, women in different spaces and phases of their lives and for every woman in you. This brought about the I AM limited edition lipstick.
To add more synergy to this powerful collaboration, these two amazing women, Pauline, and Caroline Mutoko, didn’t just stop there.
They collaborated with Wandia Gichuru of Vivo Woman to distribute the limited edition lipstick in 8 of the Vivo Woman stores in Nairobi. Wandia Gichuru has rewritten the narrative of modern day fashion.
She founded Vivo active wear in 2011 to offer comfortable casual wear for the sporty woman and official clothing for the professional woman.
Here are the 5 things I have learned from the partnership of these three glamorous women.
1. Collaborate instead of compete
An African proverb says “If you want to go fast if you want to go far, go together”.
Nothing is better than working with other women who get your perspective and challenges you face as a woman in business.
2. Have a defined purpose and vision
When you have every partner pulling in different directions, there is bound to be no progress. To collaborate, you need to have a clear and shared vision and an agreed direction on how to achieve it.
3. Bring a unique value
Each partner should bring a differentiating factor into the equation. This helps to ensure that you do not view each other as competition.
4. Have mutual benefits
The partnership should be beneficial to all partners. This removes the perception that one person is bearing a bigger load than the other.
5. There is room for more than one queen
There is no winner takes all award in entrepreneurship. As women, we need to get over this attitude and view women as a community to help each other grow and not competition.
“My advice to girls is always this: Be supportive of each other. I can’t say this enough. We have to be our best friends, each other. That means we cannot be catty, we cannot compete and see one person’s failure as our success.
We can all rise together, we can all win!
We’re sometimes taught in our societies that we have to compete and we have to hold each other back in order for one of us to succeed.
That is not true. We need each other.
And all over the world, we have to be a team of women and girls who love each other and value each other and cherish one another.
Because if we don’t cherish each other, no one else will,” – Michelle Obama
In the last two decades, there has been an increase in the number of platforms that are providing opportunities for women to develop their leadership skills.
Platforms like TEDx, for example, create a space where women can present their ideas and thoughts freely using slideshows and speeches that have gone on to inspire other women around the world.
More specifically, platforms that provide a space for African women in and out of the diaspora have begun to increase as well.
I recently had the chance to interview Kenyan-born, Charlene Macharia who is the Program Coordinator at UCSB Academic Initiatives to discuss the importance of such platforms.
We also spoke about her experience with the Women’s Economic Forum as the All Ladies League (ALL) -a women’s empowerment non-profit based in India with chapters around the world.
Being the chairperson in Santa Barbara, she also highlights the reasons why there should be more platforms that give African Women a voice.
How did you get involved with the All Ladies League and become a member?
All Ladies League (ALL) is a women’s empowerment non-profit based in India with chapters around the world. ALL hosts a conference which takes place annually in India.
I am a Gates Millennium Scholar and I found out about this conference and organization through a fellow scholar, Kaity Yang.
She had posted on our Facebook group that she was in India doing her own research when she got the opportunity to meet the founder and global chairperson of ALL, Dr. Harbeen Arora and her partner Dr. Vinay Rai. They were impressed to hear about the Gates Millennium scholarship program and they extended the invitation for 10 gates scholars to attend the very first Conference.
They generously waived our conference registration and lodging fee so all we needed to pay was for our flights. When I heard about this incredible opportunity I was very interested in attending. I didn’t know how I would come up with the funds for the round trip flight but Kaity Yang was helpful by giving me ideas for fundraising like using GoFundMe and also requesting a travel grant from my school.
Ms. Kaity also connected me with Dr. Harbeen Arora who answered my questions about the organization and encouraged me to join my local chapter. Since there was no chapter in Santa Barbara, where I currently live, she challenged me to start one. She actually appointed me as the chapter chair right then and even sent me business cards and gave me a social media platform. Just like that!
I was really humbled and honored that she would entrust me with leading a local chapter so I accepted and this motivated me to make it out to the conference to find out what I was really getting myself into.
How has the platform impacted you as a woman and as a young African in the diaspora?
Participating in this has been really impactful to me by validating my voice and my experiences as a young African woman in the diaspora. It does this by providing the space for anyone to lead a workshop, give a talk, or participate in a panel discussion.
My first time attending the conference I just decided to attend as a delegate since I mostly wanted to listen and observe but in my second and third time attending the conference I decided to participate as a speaker.
This allowed me to share my perspectives on topics I am passionate about such as education and spirituality, and to also share my personal experiences. This is such good practice for public speaking and communicating clearly.
I have challenged myself each of those times to attend as a speaker not because I’m a pro but because even as a young woman I have something to share, and this is an opportunity for growth.
Do you think there should be more platforms that give a voice to African women in the diaspora specifically?
YES! I definitely think that there should be more platforms that amplify the voices of African women in the diaspora.
But I think it’s up to us to be proactive in creating them or in utilizing the platforms that already exist. We can’t afford to wait around for the rest of the world to put the spotlight on us -that rarely happens.
So we must rise and share our stories, paint a picture of the world we would like to see, and just let our light shine by all means, and on our own terms.
What is the significance of platforms that allow you to share ideas and create a space for women to develop their leadership skills?
Organizations such as ALL are so significant since just by creating a platform for women to connect, share resources, and develop their leadership skills, they are literally changing the world.
There is a leadership imbalance in most sectors of our society and there’s an underlying narrative out there that women are inferior and weak.
But now is the time for the empowering of women to fix this imbalance so that together we can create lasting change in our world.
What could we learn from the voice of an African diaspora woman?
I think that the voice of an African woman in the diaspora is quite unique. We have a unique perspective of life shaped by our experiences on the motherland (for those of us who had that privilege) in comparison or in contrast to our experiences living abroad.
These experiences have forced us to grapple with our complex identities, propelled us to create inclusive communities, and to come up with creative ways of problem-solving.
What do you enjoy the most about being active in the conferences?
I love that the conference is hosted in India since it provides an opportunity to travel and experience new cultures.
What I enjoyed most about participating in the conference are all the wonderful women I have been able to meet from around the world. I am especially grateful to have met amazing African women leaders from various African countries and within the diaspora.
It was awesome to network and fellowship with them. We were able to bond and stay connected through social media.
When I attended the first conference I met Tia Walker, an African American woman from Santa Barbara! It was surprising that we never met while we both lived in Santa Barbara (which is a small town) but we just so happened to meet at this conference in India. It was truly a divine connection!
After the event, we kept in touch and met up when we got back to Santa Barbara. Tia was such a wonderful connection to have made, not only because of her kind nature – she is truly a genuine, dynamic and compassionate person- but also because she is a respected leader in the Santa Barbara community.
She helped me launch the Santa Barbara chapter which was such a blessing and lots of fun. I am grateful for all the soul-sister connections I get to make at these conferences.
Tell us about your recent recognition at the conference
I was one of the awardees for the “Iconic Women Leaders Creating Better World for All” which was graciously extended to me for my participation as a chapter chair for the Santa Barbara chapter.
I’m thankful to Dr. Harbeen Arora for seeing the potential in me and calling it out.
What advice would you give to young African women who want to be leaders in their community both at home and abroad?
I would advice young African women not to be afraid to be themselves. We were created just the way we are – with our personalities, passions, and strengths. We have our big hearts and brains for a reason. And we have so much to offer the world, so nothing, including ourselves, should hold us back.
At the same time, we need to prioritize our own healing before we can go out there trying to change the world. We need to take the time to know our worth, to feed our minds and our spirits with the truth. We have to erase all the lies that have been projected onto us and embracing our real God-given identities, in order to live full lives and to fulfill our destinies.
I would also like to encourage us not to be too hard on ourselves when we make mistakes and live small, to forgive ourselves quickly, and to be patient with our growth and restoration.
There is grace in the journey so just take joy in the process.
Charlene’s story is just an example of how significant these platforms are especially for young women in the African Diaspora. We can learn a lot and share ideas that are changing the world.
Unfortunately, it is still our reality as women to face workplace challenges — lack of respect, overt and insidious sexual harassment, man-terruptions — simply because we are women.
These challenges are magnified for women working in male-dominated fields. From “bro-culture” to assumptions you don’t know how to do your job on the basis of your gender, women working in these fields go to work every day already saddled with the task of proving their worth and abilities — a weight their male colleagues do not bear.
Fiona Osiro is a 26 years old Engineer from Kenya. She has a Bachelors degree in Civil Service Engineering, as well as an MSc in Urban Management and Development.
In this interview, she talks about working in a male-dominated field and being good at what she does.
How did you get started in your field?
When I was younger I really wanted to be a journalist but as I got older my path was redirected mainly due to influence from my parents and uncles. I’m surrounded by many professional Engineers and I followed suit.
Working in a male-dominated field, how do you keep yourself pumped daily?
People still get taken aback when I talk about my academic background and career path. People assume that I probably know too much or know too little. So I feel like I’ve had to work twice as hard as my male peers in proving myself which shouldn’t be the case.
My desire to make a difference in the world, make my family proud and be an example to the young women who want to venture into the field gets me pumped up for the day.
What advice would you give to men working with strong females
I’d advice men working with strong females to try not to feel the need to “baby” us.
I suppose it may come naturally to protect women around them, but at the same time, we’re coming into a male-dominated field ready to prove ourselves and be treated as equals.
Because we basically are equals out in the field, probably just with manicured nails occasionally 😉
What have you learned about yourself over the years and what are some traits that you really had to work on to be successful?
I’ve learned to not be so defensive. I initially had the attitude that I had to fight for recognition and acceptance by any means necessary.
I also learned that being a woman in such a field is such a unique and blessed opportunity, being able to be an example for others and to add a touch of grace while at it is something I relish.
I’ve learned to say no to free lunches. Pay for yourself, especially when everyone else is doing so, this will earn you the respect you deserve especially with your peers in the field.
Finally, take every opportunity to learn and grow. Connect with other people in the industry from different organizations, backgrounds, culture, and fields.
Take advantage of the unique opportunities set aside for women in male-dominated fields to grow. These opportunities are available and as women who want to make a difference, we should not shy away from making use of them.
How do you make your voice heard?
I know for sure that I do not have to be loud and aggressive to be heard but I must be very articulate, respectful and firm.
I’ve had to sit in meetings where I was the only female and the youngest as well. I already stood out, so I learned to take advantage of that and prove myself.
What advice would you give upcoming young women leaders in the industry?
I’d advise young women leaders in this industry to have a clear vision of what they’d like to achieve for themselves and for those they serve in their position.
Don’t be ashamed to be different, use it as an added advantage. Respect others and finally, put God first. There may be many obstacles to face, but upholding your morals and drawing strength from God will bring down any obstacle.
When we talk about Motherland Moguls and #BossGoals, Mrs Jane Karuku is the perfect definition of just that.
Currently sitting at the top of the corporate ladder as the Managing Director of Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), Non-executive director of East African Breweries Limited (EABL) and Barclays Bank Kenya, and a member of prestigious boards such as the Global Sustainability Index board among others.
Mrs Jane Karuku has over 20 years of expert experience in the consumer-goods industry and is not looking to slow down anytime soon. Her passion and energy for great leadership tells an enticing story of grit, consistency and sheer hard work.
SLA contributor Diana Odero had a quick sit-down with Mrs Karuku to learn about her current role now and what keeps her going in the cut throat business world.
As an African woman with over two decades in corporate leadership, what does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is getting people to do what’s good for an organization and more importantly what’s good for them. Leadership is unleashing the potential of people.
Therefore you need to have great influencing skills for moving anything or anyone from point A to point B.
What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?
I don’t think there’s much of a misconception. For me, I have never seen myself as just a woman, I just see myself as a leader.
Once you see yourself as a leader, you get what you give. Within my job, my career, I consider myself a leader – I see myself as a woman in different places outside the professional aspect.
I always tell my fellow women – don’t look for favors because you are a woman and expect diversity to help you. Just turn up and do your job as a human being and you have a better chance to succeed.
Following the production of fake alcoholic products in the Kenyan market, how do you ensure that these illegitimate products do not get into the market especially working with a brand as big as EABL?
We try to work with government agencies, there’s no knowledge management because people don’t know. Also, we work very closely with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and with enforcement agencies just to educate them about our products and the systems we’ve put in place to make sure that these are legitimate products.
We also work with IT solutions, which are mobile based so you can check every brand online and see its legitimacy.
Our borders are very porous but in Kenya we have different classes. You can have a class of genuine products that come in with no duty paid, and that’s the bigger problem with our brands more than the fakes because we have very serious security features.
With lots of surveillance placed around, we can spot something that’s fake and sort it out before it gets to consumers.
The only challenge we’ve had so far is the imported products which belong to Diageo and are under-called in duty value therefore underpriced and not able to compete in the market and this in turn loses revenue so it’s quite a big challenge.
What do you think are Kenyan’s attitudes towards alcohol and alcohol production? How can we make these attitudes more positive?
Kenya is quite interesting in that we have a big population of religious people, both Muslim and Christians so there’s a lot of people who do not take alcohol based on their beliefs. There’s also a big proportion of women who just do not want to drink.
I would say that Kenyans are not the biggest consumers of alcohol per capita, we are actually behind other East African countries such Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. But in terms of responsible drinking, we do a lot of work on that.
One challenge we have is the presence of so much bad alcohol all over the place, therefore people consume or overuse alcohol which demonizes it.
We spend a lot of time on alcohol education, we call it drink IQ – how you should behave and drink responsibly, we press in our campaigns the importance of eating and then drinking, drinking a lot of water after indulging in some alcohol and drinking alcohol within the recommended portions.
We don’t advocate for binge drinking but we do advocate for responsible drinking.
What are some of your favorite products that you manufacture/market and why?
Tusker Cider would be on the top of my list, I think it’s a very good drink and in the spirits section – the Ron Zacapa Rum, it’s a very gentle nice rum.
What trends do you see within the East African region that you find interesting?
Some new trends would be the places that people drink at first of all. There’s a lot of innovation around bars, a lot of work is going into how bars look – we are starting to get very sophisticated for consumers.
Food and alcohol pairing is becoming a very big deal, it’s an enjoyable and social experience. This is mostly throughout Kenya, wherever you go you can find a nice location where you have a good meal and a drink with ease.
Another trend I have taken note of is the cocktail culture – it’s interesting to see the many new ways of taking alcohol. It’s exciting and different.
This is already a big global phenomenon, East Africa is quickly catching up on that trend. There’s also a lot of innovation in alcohol production with a lot of new alcohol products coming in, we are becoming very globalized which is good progress.
What do you think has been most difficult for you to deal with as a woman rising in a predominantly male industry such as manufacturing?
I wouldn’t say I’ve found much difficulty as a woman, I would say as a leader that any business is difficult. If you are working in the alcohol industry, it’s regulated and our biggest challenge is what the regulations will be tomorrow or the next day because it will hamper the business.
If you’re in a macro-economic environment, like any business, you are prone to changing that environment. For example, Kenya had a very tough year last year. There were too many elections, too many presidents, and we had a drought and flooding in the same year. That can be quite problematic for a business.
Competition of course is another challenge leaders have to deal with as well as choosing the right talent to bring in and retain to help you grow the business.
I’ve managed to overcome some of these challenges by first having the right people in place because they are the ones who will help you survive through the environment you may be in.
The people you hire are the ones who will help you get innovative and fight the competition, help in smooth distribution of products to the consumers in the most innovative way, they will drive sales for you and will help build relationships with all the stakeholders involved in your business.
The percentage of women working in the manufacturing industry is quite small, some companies having less than 10% women employed there. What can be done to counteract this ratio?
In corporate businesses, in middle management to be exact – women are really starting to be significant. I think the challenge comes with breaking in to the next level. Looking at boardrooms in Kenya, there’s a lot of change starting to happen.
People are driving diversity and companies are finally realizing that they have to have diversity in their businesses because diversity is strength.
Here at EABL we have a target of being 50% women and we are just shy of 30%, so we are working very hard to get to that halfway point. At Diageo globally, the target is 50% as well and at our board level we are doing much better than our local business.
For us as women, we have to define our own path. Not everybody wants to be a leader and you have to be true to yourself.
Once you decide you want to be in the corporate world then you need to map out your end game and once you have that, start working backwards to achieve what you want to achieve.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
Where do you want to work?
What skills do you need to have?
Do you need a mentor/coach which is quite important?
Do you have belief in yourself ?
Because at the end of the day you can have the best mentor, all the skills but if your own belief and your own energy doesn’t match up, you won’t get anywhere.
When people are interviewing the low level positions, they look at three things:
Does the person have the fabric, is that the right fabric for what you want?
Do you have high energy, do you have the drive needed?
Do you have good judgement and are you able to influence?
This is what I call the basic fabric and this then changes as you grow within the company.
Who are your role models?
One of my main role models is Nelson Mandela. He was such a big influencer and still is influencing a lot today after his passing.
His influence was on leadership. He influenced in prison, he influenced out of prison, he has even influenced upon death. That kind of power can influence anything.
Mandela has leadership qualities, compassion and was a mentor to many, all three things of which I embody today – he basically taught us how using your own skills to impart on other people so they can achieve better for themselves is important.
I do look up to him and the reason I want to work with people is because I want to be that voice that influences a huge population to move from one point to another even when I’m no longer here.
What values do you have that have contributed to your career and personal growth?
The first would be hard work. Nothing comes for free and nobody gives it to you on a platter. You have to be committed.
You also have to have belief and confidence because you don’t have to be the best person for the job but you can the person that has the highest hunger for it, don’t wait to be the perfect candidate for a job because your drive can help learn and grow along the way.
A good way to help with your confidence and self –esteem would be getting a good mentor and/or life coach, a mentor doesn’t need to be someone senior than you, sometimes I get brave from my own kids and the same young women you are writing for.
You can also have a multitude of mentors, it doesn’t have to be one person. Remember to read a lot. In reading you get the how-to in many things and unfortunately women don’t read a lot. I always tell women to read a lot, even the newspapers, read hard-core material that is good for your growth.
Read broadly because if you are sitting in a conversation and you are too narrow focused, you won’t be able to influence.
Being a female referee in male-oriented sports such as football is not something you hear of often. Tabitha Wambui, a renowned Kenyan referee and current Guinness Made of Black ambassador is one of the few yet talented African women taking on this position with poise and prowess.
Tabitha who is a mother of two and an advocate for women empowerment, tells a story of sheer determination and consistency that got her the job she has always dreamed of.
Tell us about your love of football. When did you first get interested in the sport?
I started playing football just for fun while I was still in primary school. I’m an only child and I was such a tomboy, I would play football a lot with my uncles.
Upon joining high school, I played for the school team for a short while and then joined the Mathare Youth team and played for them until I completed high school.
What brought about the decision to become a football referee?
I would watch a lot of football after high school and once saw a woman officiating in the Kenya Premier league as an assistant referee. Seeing her out there doing something so different yet so intriguing made me say to myself – if she can do it, why can’t I?
That’s when I made up my mind to try it out. I took courses in 2004 on being a referee and after completing them all the way to the class 1 level, I became a Fifa Referee.
If I wasn’t a referee now, I would have been an athlete because I’ve loved sports my whole life.
What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?
For over a decade, people believed a woman could not officiate a football game as the sport is considered to be a man’s game. I wanted to prove them wrong.
I believe that here in Kenya, it is the women’s football team that will get us into the world cup before the male team. We have already made it to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) so we are well on our way there.
How has the journey been so far as the new Made of Black Guinness Ambassador?
It has been a wonderful journey. It has made a lot of people aware of my job and me as an individual. I do my best as a role model of the Guinness brand, I am grateful that after 17 years of referring to football games, I am being appreciated by a huge enterprise such as this one.
They have helped expose my position in the football world and my journey to who I am today and this, in turn, has reached a lot of women out there and given them the push they need to get out there to pursue their passion.
What challenges have you faced in your journey and how did you overcome them?
During my first match as a referee for the Kenya Premier League (KPL), the Gor Mahia and AFC teams had thousands of fans fill the stadium. As I walked out on to the pitch, people were not looking at me as a referee but as a woman.
That intimidated me a bit but as soon as the game started, I did what I was there to do – my job and people really appreciated it once the match was over and was not downplaying my position as a female referee.
Getting my family to support me on this journey was not easy at first, they didn’t want me to go down this road. They believed that football is a hooligan’s game but I had to make them understand that this is what I wanted to do.
Now they are fully on board and have seen how impactful this position has been not only to me but to those around me as well.
How can Kenya and its society support more women and girls in sports?
The most important thing is to support them and encourage them, never discourage them. If I did what my parents and friends told me I should be, I would have never become the referee I am today.
It also has to start within ourselves, what are you doing to help support other girls and women in sports?
I train with a small group of women twice every week. I make sure to call them on training days to remind them of our sessions – it has to start with me, then it goes to the community and then it will reach the higher authority like the government.
If we wait for the government to provide that support we will not get where we want to go.
When I started this journey to become a referee, there were only two of us in the game, now there are over 50 women working towards this same goal.
Who are your top 3 role models?
My mother. She is the one who made me the woman I am today. Whenever I had a game or any issue to do with my work I would speak to her and she encourages me to keep going.
The first lady I ever saw officiating a match – Margaret Omondi, she is now a physical instructor. She is the only person in the football industry that I call and share my highs and lows with in relation to football.
Internationally – Thierry Henry. I really loved Thierry and looked up to him even before I got the chance to meet him. I’m not an arsenal fan but whenever he would play I would always watch, he is an inspiration to me.
As a mother to two teenagers, how do you manage to balance your career and your family?
I travel and move around a lot but the little time that I get at home, I make sure I spend it with them. With my schedule, I still never forget my motherly duties because they come first and I have to be a role model to them. I try to plan my schedules in a way that will allow time to spend at home with them.
Mention 3 personal values that have been critical to your career and personal growth?
Confidence: I believed in myself from such a young age – I started officiating games at 24 years old.
Discipline: When it comes to sports, you have to be disciplined, you have to be a role model to other upcoming players/athletes. When I’m on the field, 22 players are looking at me, the fans are also looking at me – so the way I carry myself in and out of the field is important.
Self Trust: Trusting yourself goes a long way.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
This would be the time I joined FIFA as a certified FIFA referee. I never thought I would get to an international level.
I thought I would only officiate local matches but in 2010, I was credited with this position and now I can go and officiate football matches outside Kenya, my first match outside Kenya being in Cameroon, truly a proud moment.
What is your mantra in life?
I always tell myself that I am not just a woman, I am a human being. No matter how people see you, you are an incredible human being.
It’s not easy to do what I do but I do it with all of my heart, and I believe there is nobody as perfect as a woman.
“I learned that excellence is a habit and it should go into every detail of your work process- from how you type emails, speak, dress, react etc” – Heard during exit interviews at the SLA HQ. You about that life? Learn more here.
Most modern women, if not all, at one point or another, have struggled with the notion and practice of keeping fit. For some, it is a recommendation from their doctor to avert a looming health danger. However, for a few others, it’s for the purposes of remaining healthy and good looking.
Whichever the case, the goal is the same, to lose weight.
Esther Hahanyu found herself in the latter category, looking for means to keep fit and look good. When the idea came to her, she had just completed her degree program and was enjoying her career. At that moment, life couldn’t have been any better, save for occasional hip joint and ankle pains, especially after a walk.
The pains were not regular, hence, she did not seek any medical opinion. Instead, Ms. Hahanyu tried to avoid activities that caused the discomfort including taking a flight of a few stairs which in the latest months was making her pant heavily.
When she started the routines four years ago, she weighed 88 kilograms. In eleven (11) months she had cut down to 68 Kgs.
Today, she still observes the routines and structured diets religiously; however, her sole priority now is toning and maintaining the weight which is right for her height and age. All these she has been able to achieve working out at home alone or with her niece.
It was not until Hahanyu visited a friend that she realized that the joint pains and panting were as a result of the weight. With this in mind, she wanted to regain her health.
She embarked on a plan that has not only helped her to lose the weight but also keep fit while encouraging others to do the same. Hahanyu has chosen to adopt a healthy lifestyle and has taken upon herself to inspire others through the social media.
Keeping tabs with social media
Upon gathering information that she could regain her health through healthy eating and exercising, Hahanyu invested time and resources to embark on the long journey which she began after a round of research and consultations.
On the first day, she took a photo of herself working out and posted on Facebook. A friend came across the post and added her to a ‘closed’ Facebook group whose mission is to support women seeking to lose weight through exercise and structured diet plans.
“I am a Facebook fanatic,” says Hahanyu adding that since day one, she felt she needed to share with the world her weight loss journey.
“I find it exciting to post my workout routines and meal plans on the social media platforms.”
Hahanyu notes that she started by doing simple routines like rope skipping and dancing. “I like working out in front of the mirror too,” she adds.
From the reflection, she can see her muscles crunch, and when she breaks a sweat, it excites and motivates her to go the extra mile.
According to Hahanyu posting the images online is a way to remain accountable to self and to motivate others to keep working harder towards attaining their weight loss goals.
Moreover, each and every member of the group is encouraged to post their routines or meal plans as an accountability check and a way to encourage others to do the same.
“When I come across a new routine or exercise, I share it with my social media friends,” observes Hahanyu. She posts in three groups on a daily basis.
She admits that this is her way of giving back to the online community that welcomed and still supports her in the journey. Of particular interest is a friendship she formed with London based Grace Kasongo.
According to Hahanyu she is indebted to Kasongo. While the two have never met in person, (atleast not by the time of writing this piece) their friendship has grown from just sending encouraging messages on the social media to exchanging physical gifts across thousands of miles.
A few months after making acquaintances, Grace sent Hahanyu a dress from London as an extrinsic motivation for her hard work.
“I got to know ‘Favored’ (Hahanyu’s Social Media Pseudonym) through the Facebook weight group,” says Grace in an email. “She was very inspirational and motivating not only to me but to other group members.”
Following her active role on the platform, Hahanyu has since been appointed an administrator of two of the online groups.
“She has continued to be an inspiration,” Grace says of Hahanyu. “She leads by example by posting challenges, what she eats and her daily routines.”
In her words, Grace likes giving gifts to her friends journeying to lose weight as a way to encourage them. Moreover, “it is a way of giving back to the community in efforts to fight obesity and other related diseases,” she adds noting that Hahanyu is “just like my baby sister now.”
Through the online support group, Hahanyu has come to learn many things about meal planning and exercising. She currently posts in three online groups each with approximately 18,850; 33,640 and 30, 225 members. She hopes to inspire members to choose healthier lives by eating right and exercising.
For Hahanyu, a structured diet plan works perfectly for her. Studies show that structured diet plans yield better results than those that are less planned. Hahanyu observes that dieting and exercising are not for everyone.
People must seek professional advice especially if one has pre-existing medical conditions or any other health concerns.
What are you doing to help yourself and other people in your community to better themselves? Click here to share your story with us.
As important as branding and advertising are, one of the most important elements of selling a product/service is customer service.
Excellent customer service puts your business ahead of the competition as it is something that is often missing from the a lot of countries, especially the Ghanaian business model.
Small businesses tend to jump straight to digital marketing or advertising without taking a moment to fully understand their business model and industry and how their product (or service), pricing, place (online store or brick & mortar store) and people (service personnel) intertwine and affect the overall brand and ROI.
In case you didn’t know, people are one of the most important aspects of the business, that is service personnel across the production line or yourself if you are running a run man show.
Customer service does not begin and end at the point of transaction and as a small business owner, you must consider the pre-purchase experience, purchase experience, and post-purchase experience
So what does this mean for your business?
This refers to the experience your customer has with your brand before they decide to purchase anything. Is your website appealing? Does it have enough information to allow the customer to make an informed decision – or are your photos outdated? How is your advertising?
Are people speaking positively about your brand?
This is the actual moment of transaction where you exchange the product (or service) for payment. If you run an online store, you must consider your interface – is your website easy to navigate? How does your customer pay for their purchase – do you have Mobile Money integrated? Can they use a Visa Card?
There are many services in Ghana that allow you to develop a website that allows your customers to shop online. A personal favorite is Storefoundry, it works very well for small businesses in Ghana.
If you run an actual brick & mortar store, what is the ambiance like? Is it easy for customers to locate the products in your store? Are they on high shelves and do they always need an attendant to help?
Is your store so small that your customers can only come in one at a time? Is your shop attendant interactive, willing to help and offer alternatives? Or are they constantly on their phone?
This covers your follow-ups and interaction with the client after the transaction. Are you bombarding them with irrelevant SMS messages and emails? If you provide a delivery service, was your delivery driver dressed appropriately?
Below are practical tips you can put into action to make sure your customer service is top notch.
Recruitment & Training – Recruitment and training is the beginning of providing excellent customer service. Even if you are running a run man show, you need to stay up to date on customer relationship trends and train yourself to always put the customer first. If you are hiring others to handle the customer interaction, make sure you hire people who know and understand the vision of the brand and are willing to be brand ambassadors both inside and outside the workplace. Personnel must also be conversant in the industry-speak as well as in the product itself, in order to serve as a salesperson.
Go the extra mile – The data you collect from your customers serve many purposes. One of the main ones is to compile a mailing list for your newsletter but another important use would be to study your customer’s purchasing habits and stay a step ahead of them all the time. Group your customers by date of birth and send out a personal message to them via text message or Whatsapp, which has become a popular medium for business communication in Ghana. Get to know your customers personally, are they parents? Do they celebrate religious holidays? Make sure to reach out to them accordingly.
Feedback is key – Receiving feedback from your customers at least once a quarter is important. Simple tools such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey are helpful for designing easy to use surveys which gives you direct feedback from your customers and clients. This way, your clients feel involved with and connected to your brand.
Appearance – You and your staff’s appearance is one of the most important elements in building a strong brand. Ensure that staff (and yourself) look the part at all times. Customers appreciate a smile and a helping hand, as difficult as it may be on some occasions.
The best way to make sure your customer service is on point is to align the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase experience to ensure a smooth transaction!
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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