Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kenya Association of Women Business Owners

Kenya Association of Women Business Owners
Inspired by NAWBO, KAWBO is now a thriving reality

Mary Schnack just returned from Kenya and Rwanda where she conducted communications trainings (, as well as purchased more items for, including from a KAWBO member.

The Kenya Association of Women Business Owners (KAWBO) has grown to 120 members since its inception about three years ago. All the members are currently located in Nairobi and their vision is to grow to 1,500 members throughout the country, with chapters set up.

KAWBO was patterned after the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) in the United States. I was the Chair of NAWBO’s International Forum and reached out to the Kenyan women I had met at conferences, including Aoko Midiwo (pictured right with her husband Elkanah Odembo, Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S. and I) of Legacy Books and Eva Muraya (pictured below with me), then of Color Creations, who would become KAWBO’s co-founders.

What a joy it was to see them thriving when I was there to visit. And I bought some terrific items for Up from the Dust from a KAWBO member, Jennifer Mulli. Eva’s new business, Brand Strategy Design (BSD), which contracted for me to come to Nairobi to do a three-day communications seminar, also gave me a wood bowl that was beaded by Jennifer’s company as an appreciation gift.

KAWBO is planning another conference for March 2012. Three of us from NAWBO spoke at KAWBO’s inaugural conference in May of 2009.

“We began in response to a yearning among local business women for a forum in which they could network, professionally engage on issues affecting their businesses and acquire requisite skills that would enable them to upscale their businesses,” said Muraya, Chair of KAWBO’s Board of Directors. “We hope to create more awareness and a stature, along with a significant level of resources, to benefit the women business owners’ communities and contribute to the national economic performance.”

Muraya attended two of NAWBO’s national conferences and met with many board members, Chapter leaders and NAWBO members doing international business. “Using NAWBO as a successful platform and getting information and advice from their members, leaders and sponsors was invaluable for us in starting KAWBO.”

Vital Voices Global Partnership sponsors KAWBO through a grant from their economic development program funded by Exxon Mobile.

Kenya’s Trade Ministry is assisting in rolling out trainings, which include:
o Entrepreneurs and Handicrafts: How to leverage skills in the handcraft category.
o Start and Improve Your Business. This training is implement in almost 100 countries through the International Labor Organization and KAWBO hopes it will help bring in younger entrepreneurs to their association.

KAWBO also has a training curriculum for mentors, which is different from anything else in the market and supported by the Danish International Development Agency. The five-month, 20-meeting program covers Business Dimension Skills, analytical tools, and Mentoring Dimension Skills, the “softer skill” approaches to working with the mentee.

Monthly breakfast meetings are held which sometimes are devoted to networking and other times feature a speaker on topics such as business finance, business etiquette, human resource policies and elevator pitches. They also have group outings to movies, plays, etc., to increase networking opportunities.

Almost all of the members are in service industries, plus agriculture and banking. Many of the women worked in the corporate sector and now have moved to entrepreneurship.

For more information on KAWBO or their March 2012 conference, please contact Elizabeth Kariuki, Senior Programmes Executive, at, or go to their website at


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Is there a way i can get into contact with KAWBO im a woman in my late 20 and i own a factory. my contact

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