By Dominic Kirui
After a week of skills training at the Strathmore Business School, 51 women in business have graduated from the training at an event held at the University grounds.
The women, brought together by the Strathmore Business School and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Kenya Investment Mechanism, underwent rigorous training in business management and how to pitch their business opportunities to investors to access credit.
Shadrack Mwangangi, the Director for Executive Education at Strathmore Business School, says that the program helps women have businesses that are profitable and in demand.
“Women are very good at nurturing, they are nurturers. So many of them have started agribusinesses that you will find, if you were to look at statistics, that many of these SMEs are women owned. So, the program is looking at how we can empower women-run businesses in the agri-space towards value addition,” Mwangangi says.
At the graduation, some of the women entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to invited financial institution representatives to demonstrate their skills.
Angela Odero, the CEO and co-founder of Rio Fish Ltd.’ said that her business seeks to stop sex-for-fish for the women in the Lake Victoria region, which has been the case for many years.
“Women traders are forced to exchange sex for fish when they seek fish supply. This deals a devastating blow to their livelihoods, and they also end up with a very high HIV prevalence,” Odero says.
In the Lake Victoria region, fish are primarily sold by women who rely on male fishermen for supply. The women are forced to deal with demands for sex in exchange for a reliable supply of fish.
This is in addition to the cash paid for the fish! Rio Fish Ltd seeks to bring decorum to the fish trade and create a safe and reliable source for fish so these women can thrive economically, without having to trade their bodies for their livelihoods.
To meet this goal, Rio contracts with small-holder fish farmers. They supply quality inputs and digital services. They collect and process fish from the farmers and then distribute them through a cold chain to their outlets, which are independently owned, creating a supply of fresh fish.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Vincent Andai, the business investment officer at the Kenya Investment Authority said that he was impressed by the presentations by the women entrepreneurs and that there are many financiers that the women can approach to secure funding to expand their businesses.
“From the pitches, I was quite particular about the emotional journey that they were able to take us through. And that is what most investors look at, because investors basically invest in you; and so, you have to take them through that journey that you have been through before now presenting your proposal, the how fast to get your trust that indeed they can invest in you and so I’m glad that was projected,” he said.
Caroline Mchuma, the founder and director of Triple M Growers, a company that deals with beekeeping, honey production, processing, packaging, and selling, says that the program has been exemplary and that she has gained valuable skills that will help her run her business better.
“I will say number one is succession. I have never thought about it. But being the founder and the director now, I will include more people in my business including my children and my husband and make them understand everything about the business,” she explains.
This skills training session is the first under the ‘Investing in Agricultural Value Addition’ program, which is a partnership between USAID’s Kenya Investment Mechanism and Strathmore Business School.
This story was first published by Transcontinental Times