Building Africa, one woman at a time
Posted on July 7, 2014
I believe that if a woman is empowered; her family is empowered!
Her society is empowered; her country is empowered and her continent is empowered!
I want to help rebuild Africa one woman at a time. I want to be part of the generation that gives Africa back its’ pride, and dignity. That’s my personal vision. It has also taught me that giving the most critical of the African population, women, their dignity by creating jobs; impacting knowledge and encouragement, I would have played my role in creating a continent that believes in itself.
For the first time in years Kenyan women entrepreneurs now have a chance to grow and be visible. I’ve been a business journalist for years and it wasn’t always easy to find women to interview. However, in the last few years following both private sector and government led initiatives – such as a 30% quota of procurement set aside for special groups including women, women funds, and, on the private sector front, a consistent focus by banks and micro-finance institutions to develop financial instruments; capacity building and entrepreneurship training for women – the space is becoming more and more vibrant with younger women entering the foray. This is not only in traditional ‘kitchen type business’ but also in tech, construction and more male oriented fields.
I believe that by being a woman who has literally grown in the public eye, I have made a difference in the dreams of young women. In the past I have filmed a series titled ‘ Women in Business’: an entrepreneurship programme that seeks to showcase while empowering women keen on starting businesses. I have also filmed a series called ‘ Leading Ladies’: a series on Citizen TV on young women breaking the ceiling in entrepreneurship. I come from a humble background, like most African women, and by sharing my story, while highlighting the movers and shakers, I believe women will be more encouraged, whatever their background. I am far from making the kind of impact that I want to make. I want to create jobs, I want to fund women to start their businesses. I want to help build women into formidable brands. That is my dream for Africa’s women.
Scarlet Digital was an experiment at Social media, and my proudest achievement yet. I have worked in advertising before and my love for branding has been nurtured over the years. Thus, when social media happened I was curious about how brands could not only interact online but also build winning strategies and plans. In a few months (as a team) we realized that digital marketing was way beyond Facebook and Twitter. We retrained, consulted and re-branded into a digital brand strategy business. Every day is a learning experience and we now know how to have a good time while we are at it.
We have a rule in the office to read an inspirational chapter of a book every day. Currently we are reading the Greatness Guide by Robin Sharma. Each staff member is required to read a page just to keep us motivated and on the same wave length. That’s how we start our day. We then have either a status meeting or follow up on daily activities in regards to clients or new pitches. Because I host a once a week business TV show on the country’s largest TV channel, I try to create a reasonable balance by delegating and giving my account managers enough room to run the client accounts without my daily rumble. We cold call clients, we write blogs (for ourselves and for clients) which I chip in for, but my main work is to build the Scarlet brand and ensure business runs profitably as well as keep our clients happy. I have learnt that relationships are everything.
When I first started my business, I hired a consultant, and at one point I delayed with payments. She changed the clients’ passwords on their social media pages without my or their knowledge. I had to travel to Burundi that morning for work and for about 2 days neither the client or myself could access the pages. I thought I would lose the business. I managed to get some money to pay her off and later learned the value of trust, a comprehensive contract and how the law responds to contractual agreements. I still Cringe.
One of the initiatives that my company supports is of a research thesis by Celestine Lidede Ukpere. She looks at the African women entrepreneurs on the use of Digital technology in their ventures. I took up the initiative because it falls squarely in the vision of my personal brand: changing Africa one woman at a time. We provide hands on training on the use of social media for their campaign, whilst another corporate Rekindle Learning, by Rapelang Rabana, provides a technology platform for the reinforcement of the digital marketing modules.
Most of the women in the initiative actually have children. Therefore, in as much as we talk about digital marketing, our children are the focus of our lives, and every so often we talk about how to create a balance between work, children and hubby’s. In my 10+ years of mostly more than one job at a time, I have learned that there is no such thing as life-work balance. They’re all rolled into one and we just need a regular balance.
My last words for the single mother, young entrepreneur is: If you have a great idea, are passionate about it, just start. Lack of money is an excuse. When you really want to do something, you will find money to do it. Unless of course, your great idea is to build a highway to heaven.
Build your networks; research; work hard and loose your sleep.
Building Africa one woman at a time.
Founder of Scarlet Digital