Home Human Impact More Than Golf – Absa Bank Kenya’s Exhibitions At Magical Kenya Open

More Than Golf – Absa Bank Kenya’s Exhibitions At Magical Kenya Open

by Femme Staff

Magical Kenya Open has come and gone, and with it great stories of sport, networking, fun family times and business. One of the major sponsors of this year’s MKO is Absa Bank Kenya, with a Ksh.75Million investment which made the bank the tournament’s official presenting partner.

In Absa’s philosophy of shared growth and the reimagined brand positioning running under the theme “Your Story Matters”, the bank facilitated other activities beyond golf, one of them being the customer dinner. At the Magical Kenya Open Village, Absa also hosted its entrepreneurs to showcase their goods, make sales and meet new clients.

I was privileged to attend MKO, tour the village and talk to some entrepreneurs whose stories I’ll be highlighting in this article and the next. These are stories of Absa customers who have had a long-standing relationship with the bank, and have enjoyed clear benefits from this relationship.

Here are their stories:

Knight Biyogo – Fammaza Curio Shop

Fammaza started off as a small curio reseller in 1997 before going all out and opening a shop in Westlands in 2002. We had a chat with the founder’s daughter Knight Biyogo who took us through Fammaza’s journey of success of the business that started out as a simple family endevour that now employs over 40 people. According to Knight, the Westlands shop bore a bigger curio shop in Rongai where their production workshop is currently located.

The employment stats are impressive at 80% of employees being between the ages of 24 and 28 years. This is in line with the founder’s passion not only for business and to make it in life, but also for empowerment of people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Fammaza trains them from scratch and later takes them in as employees to create curio pieces from bone, horn, olive wood and beads.

Fammaza stands out because it was among the businesses that took a tour to Cape Town South Africa last year courtesy of Absa Bank. This was a seven-day business tour that the bank organized for its Business Club Members to get the opportunity to meet and benchmark with South African business executives and entrepreneurs, enabling them to forge partnerships and seize potential investment opportunities. This was a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to take advantage of Absa’s regional networks and have one-on-one business networking sessions.  

As we speak, Famaza Curio shop has already shipped its first container of goods to South Africa and is organizing for another, thanks to that visit. They also have lots of other contacts to follow through for more opportunities. The founder who started banking with Absa decades ago when Queensway was the most prominent (if not the only) branch in Nairobi has grown with the bank, making use of loans and other financial services for growth. Knight describes Absa Ongata Rongai Branch as family, giving depth to the relationship the company has with the bank.

To entrepreneurs who are afraid to take the leap, Knight says that someone who fears business fears growth. It is challenging alright, but it pushes you to your full potential.

Phelesia Oketch

I also got to meet Phelesia Oketch, founder and creative director of Sello Designs – a social fashion brand that specializes in designing and making sustainable leather products and fabric bags. Phelesia who is artistically gifted started Sello back in 2012, though at that time she was making jewelry and selling to family and friends. In 2017, she officially started the leatherworks business after learning the industry for five years during which she networked a lot with other women entrepreneurs and got motivated knowing that she too could succeed.

As mentioned earlier, she is artistically talented by nature and driven by passion for business and for empowering others. Towards this, she takes in young women with zero skills or experience and trains them from scratch, before going ahead and employing some of them.

Phelesia is grateful to Absa for giving her a platform at Magical Kenya Open to display her wares. This has linked her to new markets and other entrepreneurs as well, like Knight. Their businesses tend to compliment each other since they’re bot inclined towards arts and talent. She loves Absa’s financial solutions and is particularly appreciative of the online platform which she says is very easy to use.

To women who are eager but afraid to step into entrepreneurship, she says it can be done. Focus on one thing and give it time to grow. There are lots of networking events and acceleration programs these days. Take advantage of these and make good contacts for growth. These two entrepreneurs demonstrate the power of the right banking partner for business success and financial growth. They have come right on time when the bank is repositioning itself as a more human centered institution, backed by an intuitive and seamless customer experience.

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