While starting a business in Kenya, especially as a female entrepreneur, sometimes there are periods of doubt, great trials among many other challenges. I have found that when I’m going through such problems, I like to find inspiration from people who have passed through challenges like mine and have triumphed. I can relate very personally, especially when a certain business or aspect of your business fails. It is very important for start-up entrepreneurs in Kenya to find inspiration in other successful entrepreneurs near them. I’ve been reading about female entrepreneurs in Kenya who have been successful and followed their respective journeys in business. These women have inspired me, especially because they are Kenyan. There are many women who are working very hard and doing well in business in Kenya; however, I have chosen these top five for any youth in Kenya to look up to because they have suffered through many challenges in their journeys and have still been highly successful. They are also still working hard to be better everyday and youth in Kenya can look up to them for inspiration.
1. Tabitha Karanja
Tabitha Karanja is the chief executive of Keroche Breweries, she has paved the way for many other female entrepreneurs in Kenya where women are traditionally scarce in the boardrooms, and even rarer in large successful start-ups. She is a mother of four who turned the first Kenyan owned brewery business, Keroche Breweries, into a success. She started in 1997 with fortified wines aimed at the low end market but the company wasn’t able to maintain the low prices in 2007 due to taxes aimed at alcohol.
She then came up with a new beer brand, Summit, in 2008 which has done well over the last few years. Tabitha has weathered the challenges of being a pioneer in an industry which is dominated by international brands and hasn’t given up even when her situation seemed hopeless. She inspires me to keep going even when it feels like I’m the under-dog in my industry. When I seem to hit a wall on my business, I’m inspired to come up with another solution instead of just giving up.
2. Julie Gichuru
We all know Julie as a TV host with broadcaster Citizen TV. She has been in the media for the past 12 years. The reason she is an inspiration to me is due to her entrepreneurial activities. She has two known business ventures; an online fashion retail outlet called Mimi and a media production company – Arimus Media Ltd. She has worked hard over the years to produce influential programs that have helped with reconciliation as well as start up dialogues on problems facing Kenyans and finding ways to resolve them. She has also started a business venture that failed, but that did not deter her from starting other businesses. She is a female entrepreneur who has set out to create companies that make a positive impact to Kenyans and I admire her for that. She inspires me because she does not give up even when she fails in a venture. Julie is also an inspiration to female entrepreneurs in Kenya because she does not only set out to make money, but also to change people’s life for the better. Youth should be inspired by her and should work hard to build companies that inspire and help people.
3. Gina Din Kariuki
Gina Din is a pan-African public relations practitioner. She is the founder and chair of Gina Din, which is a leading independent and indigenous strategic communications agency in East Africa. She has over 30 years of experience giving state of the art media and communication strategy to corporate companies, as well as crisis management and event planning. She started her company in 1997 with just her savings and struggled through many months where she sometimes had zero to 5 clients. She says she has learned a lot in the industry through experience and has kept going strong all through the years. She inspires me because she left a great job with Barclays Bank to start her own business, taking such a risk is very courageous and scary as well. She also shares that she doubted herself back then and even had second thoughts about starting a business. However she continued on her entrepreneurial journey and has built an amazing and successful company.
4. Eva Muraya
Eva Muraya is the CEO and founder of Brand Strategy and Design Limited. She also co-founded Color Creations Group Ltd, the first advertising and branding business to gain the global quality management systems standards ISO 9001:2001 Certification in East and Central Africa. Eva quit a great corporate job as Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for FedX (East African Courier Ltd) to co-found her first business.
The reason she motivates me is because she is always challenging herself. She could have decided to get comfortable and just move up the corporate ladder. However she wanted to challenge herself further by building an amazing company. Eva is also the Chairman of the Kenya Association of Women Business Owners. She is passionate about women’s economic empowerment, mentorship of youth, and also advocating and fund raising initiatives for children with special needs.(whoswho.co.ke). I’m inspired by a Kenyan female entrepreneur who inspires women to be empowered and mentors the youth. Eva is definitely a woman to look up to.
5. Lorna Rutto
Lorna is one of Africa’s greatest young entrepreneurs; having carved a niche for herself in a male dominated business environment. She resigned a good bank job in 2009 to start her company Ecopost Ltd which is a small plastic recycling business that uses plastic waste collected from dump sites and garbage cans across Nairobi to manufacture fencing posts. Lorna inspires me because where people see plastic garbage, she saw an opportunity and a way to save our environment. She started a business that not only uses plastic waste to convert to posts, but saves thousands of trees from being cut down. Ecopost also provides income for individuals who collect plastic and take it to their factory, where they get paid for the plastic waste. She’s an inspiration because she has achieved so much at such a young age and she’s still going strong. She resigned a job because she felt she was not making a difference in the way that she wanted and started a company that is helping Kenyans earn money as well as saving our environment. If that isn’t inspirational I don’t know what is!
If you are a young female entrepreneur in Kenya having doubts or going through some major challenges in your journey, this should inspire you thoroughly ^_^. Believe in yourself, stay strong through any challenges and always think positive. Be innovative and always think of a better way of solving your problems. Most importantly; work hard, work smart, never give up on your self and keep the faith.
Now go out there and build your dream ^_^!