[Part I] Meet these Kenyan women with swiftest minds on the continent

Kenya’s society has, for a long time, been dominated by sexism. Technology changes are sweeping across all spaces, thanks to accessible education and passion amongst women.

 

Quick access to information and a penetration of higher levels of learning deserve a clap, all in equal measure for the unfolding competition, between the male and female sex. The competition is so much that the touted gender equality is shifting the weight to the boy child.

Many female innovators, especially the youth, have taken the innovation space with a storm.  Kenya, having produced international icons in innovative ideas, solve day to day problems crippling the society, in key sectors including from agriculture, ICT and service industries.

Meet this bunch of great minds, giving men sleepless nights.

1.    Tabitha Karanja - Keroche Breweries

It is almost impossible to mention innovative and successful women on Africa’s continent and forget about Tabitha Karanja. Not at all. Beating all preserved by the harsh society, Tabitha went ahead and aced a plan – she founded the Naivasha based Keroche Breweries.

Tabitha, 52, is one of Kenya’s leading entrepreneurs and remarkably a trailblazer. She chose a business where no one probably with the conversations associated with alcoholism, especially a lady, would imagine – brewing beer.

She courageously took on the 87-year-old industry in Kenya, and she is spinning the wheel, never mind, she had business pangs, thanks to the competitors.

Tabitha roughed up the ceiling to become Kenya’s first home-grown and brewed beer and alcoholic drinks manufacturer.

She is, up to the time I write this, the owner of the state-of-the-art production facility, serving over 20 per cent of the Kenyan beer market.

In 2010, out of her enormous contribution in liberalizing the liquor market in Kenya, retired President Mwai Kibaki honored her as most significant Kenyan accolade - the Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (M.B.S.).

Other awards and honors include:

  • 2016 - Entrepreneurial Excellence in Africa Award in the Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize
  • 2015 - Transformational Business Award from the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurs AAE
  • 2014 - Business Woman of the Year at the East African round of the CNBC Africa All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA)

2.   Jennifer Riria - Kenya Women Holding

The plan to have Kenya Women Holding was hatched by one Jennifer Riria. So far, she has mobilised over 400,000 women across Kenya. Her aim has been always clear; providing financial and non-financial services to women entrepreneurs.

With a staunch believe that women are the key drivers of change, she has always vowed to transform the once marginalized women.

Today, she has placed KWH as one of the Africa's leading women entrepreneurs’ group. She is distinguished as a micro finance banker and practitioner, researcher and gender specialist.

The pioneer bagged the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014, while on admission at the EY’s Global Hall of Fame.

Her group is currently making ends meet for over 900,000 women. She has created jobs for 2,800 households. She is Kenya’s largest micro-finance icon. She has a Tuvuke Initiative for a Peaceful and Fair Electoral Process, out to prevent violence and create a safer, healthier environment for Kenyan democracy and business.

3.    Lorna Rutto – EcoPost

Lorna takes pleasure in discarded trash, only at the right place. Converting such trash into something is her passion. Passionate about cleaning the environment. Passionate about cleaning the environment. She creates out of plastics waste, fencing posts among other products.

In 2009, Lorna hatched a plan to recycle plastics. Her company, EcoPost uses 100% recycled plastics to make aesthetic, durable and environmentally friendly plastic lumber for use in applications ranging from fencing to landscaping.

She boasts of environmentally conscious products on the market today. At least fewer industries, if not all, and probably were it not for regulations, care for the environment around them.

The project won Lorna Ruto, 25, and a graduate of Accounting, the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature Challenge national award that comes with a prize of Sh500,000. She beat over 120 contestants in the competition that attracted entrepreneurs with interests in organic agriculture, green energy production and waste management.

In 2011, Lorna was recognised by the prestigious Cartier Women's Initiative Awards as their laureate for sub-Saharan Africa among other awards both at home and abroad.

Lorna has not only provided Kenya with an alternative to timber, but has in the process created over 300 jobs, generated much needed revenues, saved over 250 acres of forests and taken over 1 million kilogrammes of plastic waste out of the environment.

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