The Purple Network yesterday launched the inaugural Women in Enterprise Award dubbed the She.BusinessAward’ to recognize and celebrate women who have built successful businesses. This is the first award that specifically celebrates women in enterprise in Kenya.
The She.BusinessAward, which runs from September to December 2013, is a platform for celebrating Kenyan women entrepreneurs as a way of stimulating gender equality in economic empowerment. “We believe that celebrating and supporting women to grow their businesses is a sure way to create a major shift in the economy in solving the unemployment problem in Kenya,” said Purple Network CEO Ms Nyambia Gatahi during the launch.
She said gender inequality in business has contributed to lack of confidence among women entrepreneurs, a majority of whom have focused on smaller enterprises normally associated with traditional women roles like hairdressing, retail, restaurants and agriculture. These, among other sectors, have potential for growth and if supported will contribute to creation of employment and revenue generation for the economy. “Celebrating women who have overcome difficult financial systems and business environments to grow their businesses, will encourage other women to take their place in economic development,’’ said Ms. Gatahi.
The competition is open to women who have been running their businesses for a minimum of one year and have at least three employees. The most enterprising women will benefit from publicity, access to market linkages through the conference and will be supported to grow their businesses for a period of one year. The award will be rolled out in three phases; nomination, selection process and grand finale, which will include the women in enterprise conference and an award ceremony. The She.BusinessAward will accept submissions from women who have a story that can inspire others and form a basis of influencing systems and processes in the financial and capacity building sectors.
Many women owned businesses have not embraced ICT for business efficiency, they lack flexible financing solutions, and a majority does not take up business insurance or favourable retirement schemes for their businesses and employees. “The end to end process of the She.BusinessAward will influence the landscape for women entrepreneurs by encouraging organizations to come up with favourable products that promote women entrepreneurship in Kenya,’’ said Ms Gatahi.
The award is supported by Nailab, Gennessis Consult, Openworld, ConsumerPro, Business Mind and Fine Print Communication. To enter the She.BusinessAward, an enterprising woman can nominate herself or be nominated by submitting her name and contacts to the award on twitter @SheBizAward or facebook on She.Business Award or completing a form on the award website www.purplenetwork.co.ke.
“We will support the Purple Network in areas of research by mapping the insurance, pension, financing and ICT trends among the women entrepreneurs” said Ms. Jessica Kimathi, MD Consumer Pro, which is supporting the award. “We will also bench mark finalists products against competitors to establish gaps that will inform business development support. We believe that products/services must be created to suit the needs of consumers; we will support women to come up with products that meet consumer needs. It is our hope that through She.BusinessAward we will explore opportunities for women entrepreneurs that influence the product or service innovation for their businesses,” she said.
Ms Gatahi said that stories from women running micro enterprises and those running large manufacturing businesses have several things in common as well as lessons that can be shared. She.BusinessAward will focus on 12 categories among them; Agriculture and ICT. The award will also recognize a chama (investment group) that has invested in a successful business. Social entrepreneurship is also a key sector that will feature in the She.BusinessAward because women are always keen on tackling numerous social challenges.
Nominations will run online on www.purplenetwork.co.ke from October 1, 2013 and close on November 7, 2013. The selection process will follow thereafter and shortlisted women entrepreneurs will be announced on November 11. The finalists will be vetted through an online voting system which will determine the winners in each category. All finalists among other entrepreneurs and stakeholders will be invited to attend the conference and thereafter winners awarded at a ceremony on December 6 2013, marking the end of the 2013 women in enterprise award.
“We are pleased to see women who are at the forefront of entrepreneurship in our country. At Nailab, our goal is to champion entrepreneurs to embrace the challenges that come with a start up and ensure that they thrive through the stormy business times.” Says Sam Gichuru, Nailab CEO. He adds “We fully support the Women in Enterprise initiative and challenge young ladies to participate in tech entrepreneurship in our country and in the region.”
Ms. Gatahi added that She.BusinessAward is in line with government effort to support the growth of enterprise. The government has established the Sh6 billion UWEZO fund to benefit more women and youth in the counties, demonstrating the government’s commitment in job creation, growth of industry, economic empowerment and gender equality for women.