Kenya is one of the most dynamic and exciting places to be a woman entrepreneur in Africa.
Over the years, Kenya has become a center for innovation and entrepreneurship; A place that has constantly created pioneering inventions, unique businesses, Award-winning ventures, brands and products that continue to dominate the markets and not only create job opportunities but also make millionaires – if not billionaires – of the founders.
In all this, women have continued to gallantly stand up and be counted in areas and fields that have long been dominated by men. And the Kenyan women are definitely not disappointing.
Today, we raise a glass and toast to TEN of the most noteworthy trailblazers.
10. Adele Dejak – Fashion Icon
Adele Dejak is a Kenyan entrepreneur who runs an authentic jewelry and fashion accessories brand. Her brand represents the true African experience ranging from bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and handbags. Much like her Western compatriots Cindy Chao, Elsa Perreti and Farah Khan Ali, Adele has shone brightest in fields she never dreamed about. Adele has had her crafts worn by the hallowed likes of Lupita Nyong’o and Alicia Keys. And, in a past interview, has made it clear that she is working to be the Coco Chanel of Africa. And having collaborated with the United Nations already, well, we don’t see why hers is a tall order.
9. Suzie Wokabi, Founder of Suzie Beauty
Before Kylie Jenner and Huddah Monroe or even the entire Kardashian clan ventured into the billion-dollar Beauty Industry, Suzie Wokabi was knee-deep into it. Suzie is the legendary makeup guru and beauty connoisseur who has, for years now, nourished, beautified, edified and glorified the African Woman through her eponymous makeup brand Suzie Beauty. And even though the successful Suzie Beauty line was acquired by the Flame Tree Group in December 2015, for what I believe was millions of shillings, Suzie has remained in the game and even ventured into deeper Beauty waters. And we can only watch the magic happen.
8. Michelle Ntalami, Founder of Marini Naturals
Michele is a valiant beauty icon who, not so long ago, got tired of the peskiness of the nappy African hair and decided to take on the bull by it’s horns – Make the African Hair great again. And that’s how the continental Marini Naturals was born. Steadfastly and keenly, Michele has taken care of the hair of millions of African women, bringing back the rejuvenation and the vitilization that was so needed by the Beautiful African girl. And made millions off of it too.
7. Lucy Kapkirwok, Founder of Sanpad Products
Growing up in a village where young girls and women lack access to affordable and hygienic menstrual management products, causing low self esteem and inevitable absenteeism from school, inspired Kenyan socialpreneur Lucy Kapkirwok to find an innovative solution; The Sanpad Products.This is a sanitary pad-pant business, an innovative low cost initiative aimed at manufacturing affordable and accessible sanitary pads cum pants to address the needs of women and girls in resource poor settings. This alone has changed the lives of millions of Kenyan girls in the villages and deepest corners of the country. And seen millions more attend school and even emerge useful women in society.
6. Sonal Maherali, YouTuber and CEO of Sonal Maherali and Co LTD
Sonal is one of the most reputable and renowned YouTube personalities in Kenya and East Africa. Suave, well-spoken, elegant, richly beautiful and mind-mindbogglingly endowed, Sonal has seen her YouTube numbers balloon to an impressive 60,000+ subscribers. With deep interests in fashion and beauty, Sonal even has her own clothing line that has been doing amazingly well since it’s launch. An avid fan of designer stuff, Sonal boasts of close to a thousand designer shoes and bags. And more in jewelry and dresses. From Coco Chanel to Jimmy Choo.
5. Stella Langat, founder of Double Dee’s
This little trailblazer who was born in Kericho and educated abroad has been doing for busty women what no one ever thought of doing – providing them with bras that are a proper size for their busty bodies. Together with her three friends, Stella launched the hugely-successful Double Dees, first as a small venture in the USA and later, as a business that even opened its doors in Kenya in 2016. Busty women have never felt happier and more comfortable. And because Africa is the land of busty women, Stella may just sit pretty and watch her fortunes grow to millions.
4. Teresa Lubano, Founder of The Nanjala Company
Launched online on December 1, 2015, The Nanjala Company was born from a recognition that many local artisans and craftsmen are held back by a lack of exposure and opportunity. Therefore, through her e-commerce platform, Teresa committed to helping them take their talents and wares to the market in a more professional and gainful manner. Thus creating business for hundreds of little-known creators and artisans. And beautifying Africa’s homes in ways that could, hitherto, remain unseen.
3. Catherine Mahugu, co-founder of SasaAfrica
Catherine Mahugu, is the founder of an e-commerce platform which allows Kenyan jewelers to sell their products to customers directly. The company currently offers jewelry to over 450 retailers worldwide including Nordstrom, Espirit, and Fossil. Mahugu saw the need to promote African artifacts such as necklaces, bangles and other jewelery manufactured by locals and sell them to buyers globally and ran with it. Now, not only have hundreds of jewelers remained in business but the World has gotten brighter and more beautiful from Stella’s pioneering excellence.
2. Tabitha Karanja, Founder and CEO of Keroche Breweries
Tabitha is one of the most recognizable Kenyan entrepreneurs overally; not just in the female field. The media-shy mogul took on an 87-year-old business monopoly and entered an industry with a deeply entrenched male gender stereotype. Tabitha broke the mold to become Kenya’s first home-grown beer and alcoholic drink manufacturer.; Keroche Industries.
Today, her company’s state-of-the-art production facility is targeting 20% of the Kenyan market. For her enormous contribution in liberalizing the liquor market in Kenya, Tabitha was honored by former President Mwai Kibaki in 2010 with a most significant Kenyan accolade – the Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (M.B.S.) Award. This, mark you, is not the only Award this indomitable trailblazer has.
1. Sally Ibeere, Founder of One Residence Homes
Sally Ibeere runs a smattering of successful business in and out of the country with her most notable being One Residence Homes.
One Residence provides luxury furnished homes for expatriates and is part of the coveted and Warren Buffet-owned CORT Furniture Rental Network.
The company also offers designer furnished penthouses and lifestyle homes for long and short term across all prime residential areas in Nairobi. Millions of tourists, visitors and expatriates have gone through the very able – and diligent – hands of the indefatigable Sally Ibeere who has made home living and comfort her number one priority. And her greatest legacy yet.