CMS-Africa’s women training on business took place on 6th May to 8th May, 2014 at Nairobi Baptist Church along Ngong’ road in Nairobi. The three day event saw women get lessons on empowerment that will help them start and sustain businesses especially in an industry perceived to be male dominated. Speakers from CMS Africa as well as practioners in the world of business sought to enlighten the women on the opportunities they have to start businesses with an added touch of God’s divine will upon their lives.
A group photo taken during the Women’s Conference organized by CMS Africa.
For the duration of the event, the women had to go through morning, mid-morning and afternoon sessions that covered various topics in the field of business as well as lessons on women empowerment.
Stephen Kimwaki, an accountant and one of the key speakers during the conference expressed his optimism on the success of the conference. “I think the biggest challenge that women face in business is the limitations created by our cultural set-up and a notion that women in Africa cannot lead,” he stated. According to him, such conferences are a vivid elaboration that such mindset change is possible and that women too can engage in meaningful business. “During the conference we had women bring up issues about how their husbands are limiting them and preventing them from starting businesses; but through the lessons taught they were able to be empowered and realize their full potential as women in business,” he added.
If the idea behind the conference was to ensure that women realize and discover their self worth and stir them into starting businesses, then this object may have well been achieved. Anna Kalondu, a social worker from Mathare area in Nairobi who attended the conference was more than happy with the lessons and knowledge she gained from the conference.
Anna Kalondu making a closing prayer during the final day of the conference.
Having been arrested twice by the city council of Nairobi for not abiding by the rules of business operations required as a hawker, she confessed that if she had known then that which she knows now, she would have avoided a two month stay at Langata Women’s Prison. “The most important lesson I’ve gained from the conference is good record keeping. I never used to keep any records before; this led me to prison because I was unable to prove to local authorities that I was a legitimate business trader,” she said. Anna used to place a mat on the streets and start selling without a proper license but through the conference she has now gained meaningful knowledge that she will use to continue with the small scale vegetable vending business she has started in Mathare.
Another attendee of the conference, Patience Mayambi was not shy of words to describe how fulfilling the whole experience was, “The conference was an eye-opener for me in discovering my worth and value as a woman.” Patience has been involved in business or more like a “hobby” as she calls it. “I used to rear chicken where I live in Ngong and decided to metermophosize it into a business venture,” she said after the conference. However due to lack of adequate business skills the venture collapsed. But for her, the conference has come like a beam of sun rays in a dark place, rejuvenating her hopes of a better life for herself and her family through business. “The conference has taught me the great lesson of perseverance. I was informed by the facilitators that starting a business is not easy, it needs a lot of determination and patience that surpasses the setbacks caused by recurring losses,” she remarked. She promises to use the knowledge she has gained to start a business in Ngong. “I have noticed a market gap in the area I live in terms of shops. We lack enough shops to cater for the people there; if I were to start a business today a shop is what I’d invest in,” she stated.
Patience Mayambi at a session during the Women Conference.
Learning materials published by CMS-Africa were used to guide the conference. Books like “Financial Freedom for Vulnerable Women Across Africa” published by CMS-Africa were used to tackle issues that were raised during the question and answer sessions of the conference. More of such conferences will be held to ensure wholistic transformation of people in God’s mission as a way of renewing mindsets and transforming communities which are the driving pillars for CMS-Africa’s mission and vision.