In the afternoon of the first day of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2015) , an interesting session dubbed “Expanding Horizons” will take place. The goal is to find ways of unleashing the next brilliant cadre of women entrepreneurs. The discussion will center on
“The rising power and potential of women entrepreneurs to create innovative businesses and social impact; what it takes to bring the next big idea to global markets; how to scale a successful domestic business to be able to compete in regional and global value chains; and the important role of building strong entrepreneurial Eco-systems to advance women’s entrepreneurship.”
The GES summit has put women entrepreneurship at the center of its agenda. Expected to attend is GES 2015 African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP). AWEP is a White House initiative that targets African women entrepreneurs in order promote business growth, increase trade both regionally and to access U.S. markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). In addition AWEP hopes to create better business environments, and empower African women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities.
On July 24, the GES Youth and Women’s Day will see 150 entrepreneurs from around the world to meet investors, policy makers and industry leaders in Nairobi to learn new skills and get business advice from the experts.
According to Catherine Russell, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, study after study shows women have the capacity, confidence, and follow through to start and grow a business, to the point where women entrepreneurs actually outpace men. In Kenya, we have a saying that empowering the woman, empowers the community. An empowered woman will ensure the children get better education, nutrition and shelter. On an entrepreneurial level, the empowered woman is also most likely going to hire other women.
Locally, we have success stories both in entrepreneurs who have climbed the ladder in male dominated business world and organisations that cater for the woman entrepreneur. Perhaps none exemplifies this better than Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT). The firm that lends to women has grown from a one branch micro-finance lender to a 50+ branch organisation that now employs 2,500 people. It is Kenya’s largest micro-finance bank by both branch network and client base and boasts of an asset base that places it at par with Kenya’s mid-tier banks.
According to the KWFT website
“It has created a portfolio of products and services focused on meeting the needs of women entrepreneurs. KWFT’S success is based on the recognition that women are a key niche market that has significantly lower levels of access to financial services than the rest of the general population.”
GES 2015 will be an additional spark that should help send women entrepreneurs to a higher level. The exposure to successful icons in business and the valuable lessons, insights and experience should be valuable for Kenyans that will be in attendance.