Watch: Video of women entrepreneurs making it big in their businesses.

Every single day, women around the world attend to their families, their farms and their businesses with tenacity. Their work, which has traditionally been under appreciated, is now increasingly being acknowledged by global researchers. Women are doing more and more in entrepreneurship fields, making a buck for themselves and contributing more and more to the economy. As it is currently, 48% of SMEs in the country are owned by women.

To empower women in this direction, global leaders led by UNCTAD Secretary General and International Trade Centre Executive Director Arancha Gonzales have joined hands with Barclays Bank of Kenya and other institutions such as KEPSA to set aside 70 million Kenyan shillings to support local women in entrepreneurship and connect them to the global markets.

“I support this initiative personally and institutionally as UNCTAD” These were the words of current UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi during the unveiling of the Kenyan chapter of She Trades, a platform that is aimed to empower women globally and ensure that 1 million of them are connected to the global market by 2020 through its mobile app dubbed She Trades.

Barclay’s involvement in the SheTrades initiative follows an additional Kshs.30 billion loan announced last year by the bank’s CEO Jeremy Awori and a further 5 billion announced during the WTO conference. This shows Barclays bank’s commitment in supporting women in Business.

So,are you a  Women entrepreneurs? Go into any Barclays bank branch and explain your case.The good news is you don’t have to an existing BBK customer. In addition to possible funding, established women entrepreneurs who have already built their business will be ready to mentor you in this journey.

We met one of the many aspiring beneficiaries of She Trades at the Barclays #SheTradesKe launch at Kempinski hotel. Her name is Mary Muge – a cosmetologist by profession. She runs a skincare consultancy business based at AdLife plaza Nairobi and we sought to know from her how her entrepreneurship journey has been, the challenges she has faced and what advise she would give to beginners in entrepreneurship as a whole and her industry in particular.

Mary’s journey

Though she has not always been a cosmetologist, Mary was always an entrepreneur at heart and has always had a passion for the beauty industry. Her other profession however is in the hospitality industry though she has since given that up. She’s a trained hotelier and in the beginning she even got jobs in some big city hotels. Her entrepreneurship spirit however kept coming in the way of her employers’ work because she wanted to juggle both and sometimes the lunch breaks were just not enough to rush to river road, buy stuff for sale and come back to work. Remember she would still need more time to sell her wares. In the end she decided to quit employment and dedicate her time to running her businesses.

Challenges

Other than the usual challenges like adequate capital, one of the major challenges in the cosmetologist industry according to Mary is the flooding of counterfeited products that many users are sometimes not able to differentiate from genuine ones. Many users are not well informed in that sector and are not in a position to identify the genuineness of a product just by looking at it. Bear in mind that the counterfeiter goes to quite some length to make the packaging look like the original so many people get hoodwinked into buying them.

What Mary has done to counter this at her shop is to always make sure she imports original products. She has a tight clientele that does not mind paying high prices for original products and she makes sure that she keeps them satisfied.

Mary also makes high quality wigs. This is another field where there are lots of cheaper options though not of good quality. She makes sure she sources high quality raw materials for this line of work. They do not come cheap but once again, her clients are willing to pay the price to have only the best.

Her advise to those starting out in this industry? Start from somewhere. Do not wait until you’re in a position to start big because that may take too long and you’ll give up before your entrepreneur journey even begins. If you’re not able to start big, start small and grow upwards. Wherever you start, give your clients good service and good products and you’ll have a loyal following who will keep coming back to you for more.

As far a starting out goes, we’ve seen that women can talk to Barclays under the SheTrades initiative for a push in the right direction as well as mentorship in the entrepreneurship journey. They can also make use of the She Trades app which is available on both Android and iOs.

Mary believes firmly in the #SheTradesKe initiative because she will now be able to collaborate with other women internationally and this means that more doors will open. Doors she would otherwise never have known about. When for example she’s importing her products, when she goes to foreign countries she’ll have already been in contact with businesses abroad on the app. She sees a point where she’ll even be able to meet trustworthy suppliers who can just send her products without her having to travel, thus saving her money and time. Saving time and money is eventually quite a push in any business.

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