This is part of a series of blogs from the four entrepreneurs participating in the Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa initiative. The Xchange is a mentorship and exchange program for high-growth women entrepreneurs based in Africa. The initiative is being run by the Case Foundation, the Mara Foundation, the Global Entrepreneurship Network and the U.S. Department of State.
The week began with arrival in the pride of Africa – Kenya – to take part in the Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa initiative with three other amazing female entrepreneurs from Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Kenya is a beautiful country -- green and lush – with a lot of activity on the streets. Kenya has a different atmosphere to Rwanda, with traffic filled roads and flashes of street cameras.
After a quick group briefing and introduction with Eva and James from the Mara Foundation over breakfast, I began to get know fellow program members and learn about their businesses. The three ladies are all key players in their respective fields and truly inspiring to be around.
The first mentor meeting was amazing because even from Rwanda, Haute Baso has been following the work of Diana Opoti. She runs a communications agency based in Kenya. The agency provides effective and integrated communication strategies for brands that are looking to raise their profile and enhance their positioning in the region. This is very key in Haute Baso’s growth as a fashion brand. She uses social media to showcase local brands. In the meeting we discussed strategies to introduce the brand to Kenya and identify the right stakeholders.
The following day, at the invitation of Diana, we drove to creative space Pawa254 for the Nairobi Design Week “Business in Design” Day, which featured speakers like Silvia Tonui of FAFA, Bud Panesar of Ramara Furniture, and Asha Mweru. Inspiring advice from seasoned entrepreneurs and fellow creatives made the day well worthwhile. The seminar covered how to develop a business mindset, and brand identity, as well as networking and understanding the corporate culture. We spent lunch at a cafe with fellow program members, enjoying the rich food and sharing our experiences thus far.
Following the seminar the organizers screened a documentary on the vibrant workmanship and culture within the design community in Hong Kong and Japan. Being in Nairobi is such a thrill because the creative culture is so vibrant, one can't help but be motivated to be a part of the movement.
Reach out to Linda on Twitter @hautebaso, and visit the Xchange website for updates on the initiative.