Kenya is considered to be the center for innovation and entrepreneurship with highly creative brand builders producing world class solutions to the everyday mwananchi problems. With the growth of the Kenyan entrepreneurial ecosystem, so has the rise of female owned businesses and establishments.
According to statistics from the 2016 Micro small and medium enterprises in Kenya 47.9% of certified businesses were owned by men while 32.2% were owned by women entrepreneurs. The report also showed that 60% of unlicensed businesses were owned by women entrepreneurs mostly in the informal sector. It is now a dynamic and exiting place to be a woman entrepreneur in Kenya.
This growth can be attributed to the creation of women-centered policies and programs for empowerment like the women enterprise fund, Young Women in enterprise (YWE) program and women led accelerators such as the Sinapsis program, boot camps especially reserved for women in both county and national governments.
Women like Tabitha Karanja, founder of Keroche industries, Dr Jennifer Riria, founder of Kenya women holdings, Njeri Rionge, serial East African ICT and business consulting entrepreneur among others are some of the highly established and up-coming women entrepreneurs who are building great businesses, social enterprises and brands. They are clearly helping to put Kenya on the Pan-African and global business map.
Even with these developments, women entrepreneurs still face some resistance and barriers when starting and setting up their businesses. In fact in the annual Women Entrepreneurship and Innovation summit that’s organized by Expodium Africa in 2018, the experiences shared by the 100 plus women attendees suggested that women face twice the hurdles a man faces while establishing themselves as entrepreneurs.
Despite the various hurdles that female entrepreneurs face, they still hold a lot of potential, capable of growing and transforming the country’s entrepreneurial landscape. The following startup tips can help unlock the economic and strategic potential in women entrepreneurs on their entrepreneurial journey.
Go for the industry you have a passion in
It is a generally accepted fact that building a business is like taking care of a new child, it requires a great deal of your time, energy and resources – especially at the initial stage. This means that any woman who wants to succeed in building a successful needs to get involved in business in the area of their passion or in an area where at least they have some interest in. It would be very stressful to commit to an enterprise that can drain you.
Have a strong support network
Being an entrepreneur is probably one of the toughest things you can embark on- especially as a woman entrepreneur in a male prejudiced society. 50% of female CEOs always say that the absence of accessible advisers and gurus limit growth.
As much as finding a stable support system is a daunting process, having a strong and stable support system comprising of other female entrepreneurs with similar goals and interests can go a long way. They can help you weather the storms and go through the difficult times on your entrepreneurial journey.
Don’t be proud, learn to Delegate
Women entrepreneurs are known to juggle between completely unrelated tasks and spending so much time on the minors that the essential tasks of working on growing the business are ignored. Mom entrepreneurs especially struggle to find the work-life balance which simultaneously limits them from utilizing their full potential.
While it might be tempting to attempt to do everything yourself (as many empowered women tend to do), if you truly desire to grow a successful business, learn to deliberately delegate tasks to others. Freelancers are a great and inexpensive option to consider at the early stages of your business.
Have a trusted mentor
Female entrepreneurs experience the most pressure not to fail while running a business venture. According to a study, fearing failure is one of the top most concerns of women who want to launch a business.
One thing you can do to ease the stress is to connect with a trusted mentor; someone who has already passed through the challenges that you could be facing at the moment. Reach out to other women entrepreneurs you admire and request to be mentored. Create time to discuss your challenges and leverage their experience and wisdom.