If you were to start a business today, would you have all the necessary skills to start and sustain it? Statistics in Kenya indicate that most businesses collapse within the first year after they begin, painting a gloom reality for those interested in entrepreneurship. While financial capability has a big role to play, doing business is not just about having the money. It is a conglomerate of skills and money to create a market, employment opportunities, and to support yourself. The issue is that many of us lack the resources and information to fully sustain a business. These skills are essential because they enable you to know how to adapt to small and drastic business environmental changes, which is vital in business sustainability. Luckily for us, Her Venture application has recently been launched in Kenya.
Her Venture is an application that enables women entrepreneurs to gain business skills and connections to transform their enterprises. Speaking at the launch, Professor Margaret Kobia, who is the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, highlighted the fact that in Kenya, women only account for 9% of firms. The industry is male-dominated, and yet, as she says, “When women are empowered, communities prosper.” So what then happens when women are not empowered?
Hellen McEachern, who is the C.E.O of the Cherie Blair Foundation that invented the application, broke down the application and its uses. It is a free digital learning application focusing on women in business. The application is currently available on Google Play and will be available on I.O.S in the next few weeks. It aims to expound on business knowledge and skills, as well as enhancing networks among entrepreneurs.
Interesting to note, the application tailors the learning experience to the woman’s needs. So if it’s a startup then the information will be based on startups. The application is engaging and interactive. It has quizzes and flashcards that break the monotony of an ordinary classroom. It also connects women based on the location, business sector, and username.
Her Venture was launched in 2018 and has since been used by 25,000 people in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Nigeria. The success stories by people who used the application are numerous. They said that it has improved their confidence, increased profit, expanded their clients, and helped them to implement new methods and policies. Above all this, the content is localised. So what is being taught in Nigeria is not exactly the same as in Kenya.
In attendance was a lady by the name Olusala Babatunde. She is the C.E.O of OSC School of Fashion in Nigeria and has used Her Venture to develop her business. She said that using the application was a major paradigm shift in her life and in her business. She expanded from 2-3 workers to over 50 workers. Over and above all this, she now uses the application to train her students at the fashion school. She says that using the application during the pandemic has been a life-changing experience.
The launch of Her Venture in Kenya is supported by two other firms. First, DHL. Mr. John Pearson, who is the CEO of DHL Express, highlighted the importance of supporting women empowerment by providing an inbound and outbound service to Africa. He reassured the team that there is no limit to the support (both financial and resourceful) that DHL will give the Cherie Blair Foundation.
The second firm that was also in attendance is SITE Enterprise Promotion, a Kenyan NGO whose goal is the promotion of employment opportunities and economic growth among small-scale producers. Mr. Harun Baiya spoke about the importance of peer learning and its effectiveness in female entrepreneurship. He hopes to be able to set up chat rooms and zoom meetings so that they can learn from each other and encourage each other as well.
While the pandemic has presented a big challenge, CS Kobia says that it has also brought opportunity. Some women have set up cottage industries at home to be able to sustain themselves and their families. Now more than ever, we hope that the application will be received positively by the Kenyan audience and that we will have many success stories, just like that of Olusala Babatunde.
The wonderful host, Andrew Mutuma, who is the Country Manager of DHL Express Kenya, concluded with a poem from Shakespeare, but added a twist to it:
There is a tide in the affairs of women, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. Take the tide now with the application of HerVenture.
Women Enterprise Fund And Coca-Cola Are Transforming The Lives Of Women Through Training And Funding; Violet Siko, Volunteer