The other side of Entrepreneurship

EntrepreneurshipJourneyWhen you are tired of routine and seeking for some thrill and adventure, entrepreneurship always seems to be the next option available. However, for every wonderful thing that comes with being your own boss, there is a challenge to overcome. If you’re considering striking out on your own and trying your hand at entrepreneurship, it’s essential to go into it with the knowledge that there will be many challenges – both great and small.You have listened to everyone telling you why you shouldn’t do it but now you are convinced it’s the right thing to do and you are ready to take that leap of faith. Big congrats!! You’ve officially joined the defiant group of risk-takers and dream chasers.

But wait a minute! did you pause to ask yourself What is it like on the other side of the fence? What should you be prepared for when shifting gears? When I decided to leave my full-time job where I was comfortable working in hierarchies and structured environments, I felt like had gained freedom and luxury of time, but the truth is, once you leave the comfort of full-time employment, working for yourself involves an incredible amount of self-discipline. Building something from scratch requires planning, which includes getting the actual work done, to working behind the scenes to ensure operations, marketing, and finances are running smoothly. Remember in the initial years you will be doing the work of five people all rolled into one.

It is fine, if people don’t believe in what you have started now, remember your foundation is not in what people think about you now, it is your mindset and the perspective you have towards the world, having an emotional well being, learning and unlearning as much. Ask for advice from people, but take whatever they say with a pinch of salt by sieving what you are told. Remember to talk to people in a similar space you are operating in because it allows you to have a much more big picture of the market or the problem you are trying to solve, don’t forget to dream big, but start very small.  Choose a business plan that has a very small overhead and start-up cost, which will allow your business to grow gradually.

Entrepreneurship is about risk but you can reduce it gradually by doing research on the market you are entering, your competition, and every other aspect you can think of when it comes to a particular product or idea. The more you know about the possibilities, the better you will be able to guess the outcome. Don’t quit your day job before you’ve assessed the risks, explored alternative options and still truly believe that going out on your own is the right thing to do.

Finally, accept advice from those who have been there and take notes when an entrepreneur you admire is speaking/offering pointers. Just remember that no amount of reading or research can truly make you successful until you’re willing to follow your dreams and take a leap of faith. As someone who has made drastic changes in her career, I can safely say that the biggest risk of all is not taking that leap when you see it. Regret is a feeling we never want to have. If you feel it in your heart and soul, then go for it with all that you’ve got. Trust me, you’ll never look back!

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THERE IS HOPE FOR WOMEN AND YOUNG GIRLS IN DIGITAL ERA

“As women we have the potential and we have the ability to be whatever we want to become in this world.” I want to become a Doctor, I want to become an engineer, I want become an IT specialized “are a few of the dreams I listened as every girl got a chance to express themselves during one of the engagement I had. It’s time we ignite young women’s passions and interests in a male-dominated society. Boosting their self-esteem through leadership and building up their skills are among the most important ingredients to support their vision.

One of the key approaches to the challenges young girls face today which are proving to be obstacles to their achievements is to help them familiarize themselves with technology through digital literacy. This will provide practical skills that they can use to access information and will further ensure they do not miss out on the available opportunities for personal, professional development and innovation of the digital revolution, as we continue to make efforts to bridge the existing digital gender gap.

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One of the initiatives that we decided to do was to open a center Abetec Business Solutions http://bit.ly/2psl0k9 in peri –Urban area where internet is a challenge and give women and girls an opportunity to access the computers with internet. To learn, find opportunities, connect with the rest of the world, transfer the knowledge to their communities and help in developing the society. Since January we have been able to train 100 youths on basic computer skills and internet usage. Out of the total number 80% are girls a good indication that young girls are taking initiative towards their development. Our long term goal is to help them become engaged in social entrepreneurship that will give them a chance to solve pressing social challenges in their communities.

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In her remarks Shelly Esque President, Intel Foundation and Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Intel Corporation on the Web and Women report “The Internet gender gap is particularly salient in developing countries, with very real consequences”. She continues to say “We know that many women who use the Internet derive profound benefits through it, including economic and educational opportunities, a community of support, and career prospects. As the report  http://intel.ly/2o8jGCI indicates , expanding Internet access for women would also provide a significant boost to national income”

On our side as champions for change we need to closely work with girls and women to challenge gender stereotypes and achieve long-term change. Other challenges that exist are like, access to affordable internet and digital tools like smart phones, laptops, Computer equipped Centers. We can actively engage other stakeholders to work together to find ways of supporting the girls and women gain access. For example Out of a training of 15 young girls in one class I engaged, 90% had no access to internet,80% had no email addresses,60% had phones which they couldn’t access internet and 95% had to travel miles to access a computers. Despite all this challenges they had a lot of confidence an indication that the young girls can grow up free from gender prejudices and become actors of their own empowerment in all spheres of life and empower others too.

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There is also need for mentorship program initiatives that are primarily targeted towards young women. During the evaluation after one of the training, what come out strongly was need for personal development programs,80% of the girls were not sure why they had chosen the courses they wanted to pursue in college and what career path they wanted to take. This makes Digital literacy a priority again; the excitements that come from their faces after the training was a sign that they are on the way to self-discovery and that was very encouraging.

An Interview with one of the participants

  1. Have ever gone through digital training before……………………..?                                    NO
  2. What do you think should be included early in school curriculum…………………?       Personal Development, digital literacy & Entrepreneurship
  3. How will use the skills acquired knowledge from the Digital literacy training……………….?

    I will be able to access information, to interact with other people and to learn


 Photos Courtesy of Alex Muli

My Journey as Champion for Women 2016/2017

Bettykk

Economic Empowerment has always been a priority to me and I invest a lot of time trying to look for ways of making it real in our generation and especially to women and youths who are  more vulnerable and marginalized with less  equitable opportunities.

My Journey become more interesting when I joined the Empower Women network and later selected as a champions for change 2016/2017.Reading articles and resources of women around the world from the empower women platform ,has given me a different perceptive and a better understanding of how well we can empower women for them to still relevant in a very competitive environment.

One of the things that have learned as a champion for change is that the key towards the journey of economic empowerment is Skills development.To be more precise two major skills are very important in the life of every woman who is ready to  become economic empowered and this two are digital and financial literacy.

Women equal and meaningful participation in the digital society is seen as both integral to the realization of women rights in the 21st Century as well as realization of a just ,inclusive and rights based information society and an achievement to  global objectives around equality and women economic empowerment.

From a lot of interaction have had with women for those months in my championship have observed that ,unless women become wiser in making investment and savings, wealth creation and financial stability remain a distant dream. But through continuous training and awareness the excitement of behavioral change  becomes so real.” Financial literacy helps in developing economy and ultimately encourages growth (Worthington, 2006) and empowers women”

As I conclude I believe every woman can be trained and their skills developed.This will further fill the inequality gap because the gender inequality women face ripples down to everyone and costs economies millions, even billions per year when women are not given an opportunity to contribute. According to the World Economic Forum, reducing gender inequality will ultimately enhance productivity and economic growth, which will lead to a better standard of living for everyone. (UNICEF)

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betty-weeBeing the first born in a family of eight with a Dad who was ever drunk posed a threat to attaining my dreams in life, most of the time I found myself taking care of my  siblings while other children where in school studying, I lost hope. However, my resilience and efforts paid off after my high school when a relative assisted me join a college because had not failed in school  irrespective of all the struggles; luckily I secured a Job immediately in a pharmaceutical company. At only 21 years of age I started earning a living and this was a start of my economic empowerment.

I saved some money to enroll in a university which took me five years before I joined ,I graduated in July 2009 a milestone which could have remained a  dream if I had not attained economic empowerment at that early age. After graduating I secured another Job immediately in Microfinance bank and this was my turning point and a realization of how economic empowerment was important to women

I was fulfilled because the organization was giving money to low income earners to expand their businesses. This gave me a lot of Joy because I knew when the Women were actively involved in   economic activities they would provide for their families and children wouldn’t miss school, a privilege that I never got. Education is important in unlocking opportunities for economic empowerment.

I had interacted with over 4000 women for close to six years before something started bothering me. I noticed the loans we were giving out were serviced well in the first and second series but when we gave out the third series which were a bit higher in amounts, they were highly defaulted; some women could hardly pay a shilling. This bothered me to a point that I went back to school to study entrepreneurship with hope of acquiring more knowledge to train them because I had not quite understood where the problem was and why their businesses were failing before the fourth anniversary.

Fortunately around that time I was given higher responsibility to supervise micro enterprises within the region, it is then when it dawned on me why the women who had just become economic empowered couldn’t sustain it. After interviewing several of them, I discovered they  lacked financial and digital literacy, lack of  basic book keeping , some had no idea of how they could get information through the internet, they knew the bank had digital banking but they didn’t know how to go about it, others genuinely confessed ,they started business because they saw their fellow women start , actually there was no innovation, their own skills and talents were not being utilized, basically it was just a replication of businesses and that’s why they couldn’t service their loans because the businesses were not sustainable and they lacked a place to acquire more skills since they were digital grounded

It is at that point I realized I needed to use my skills not only to further the dream of women Economic empowerment but also to have it sustained and passed to other generations. It is then that I honorably resigned from my loving Job to found a social enterprise that focuses on business mentorship, personal skills development and financial and digital literacy.

We are targeting 2000 Women and youth (to create good entrepreneurship foundation) in a year, those in business and the upcoming entrepreneurs through social media sensitization, forums, workshops and partnerships. Besides, I am also trying to come up with a program of women who dropped out of school due to lack of schools fees, early pregnancies, and early marriages on how they can be economically empowered to reinforce the importance of entrepreneurship in order to break the poverty circle.

An Economically Empowered Woman can access good health care for her family, can afford good education for her children, can be financially included and most important she can empower others too.

#BREAKING THE GLASS

Many of us women wish to change the world. We wake up every morning and wish things were better. Days, weeks, months and years pass but the wishing continues. We encounter women living in violence, we encounter women giving birth in pathetic environment and children dying and we still feel hopeless and wish someone does something about it.

We see women struggle accessing some services like financial, internet information because they are digital illiterate, but we wish someone will one day  come and train them. We wish government institution could get more involved but we wait and wait, and when it doesn’t happen we instead start complaining.

We work in hostile environments, some Bosses take advantage of the girls and offer them promotions in exchange of their bodies, we watch helplessly and wish some humanitarian organization will hear about it and intervene

We sit looking at the GLASS in front of us,we live in the illusion,thinking that THE GLASS is protecting us but in reality we are clearly seeing the other side and we can actually break it ,get through and take action.

I broke the glass and quit my good job in cooperate world to become a social entrepreneur, to address financial and digital literacy challenges and expose women and youths to greater possibilities of economic development. People called me crazy but yes I BROKE THE GLASS. Am determined to fight on till I see change on those things that I wished happened or changed when I was behind THE GLASS.

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