ParentsAfrica IWD24 Breakfast event graced by Alice Mwaniki, Head of Personal Banking, Stanbic Bank, Joanne Mwangi-Yelbert CEO, of Professional Marketing Services and Nancy Muthoni, Founder and Executive Producer and Host of The Property Show, and also chairperson of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Nairobi Chapter. [PHOTO: COURTESY]

Too often, women face financial discrimination. They are underrepresented at all levels of the global financial system, from depositors and borrowers to management. Despite being highly entrepreneurial, African women own just a third of businesses in Africa. Closer home, Kenyan women own 48 percent of micro and small enterprises but have access to only seven percent of the credit. 

The biggest hindrance to women-owned businesses’ growth is the lack of access to financing. Besides, women lack financial and business mentorship with only 37 percent of women having a bank account.

Despite these challenges, women are the core fabric of society and when their financial needs are met, families are better taken care of, and society benefits. They are found in every sector of the economy, and empowering them financially contributes to building the nation by increasing GDP and transforming society.

Can women build financial wellness and live their best lives or is it a pier’s dream? This question lingered during the Parents Africa Integrated Media Special breakfast event in honour of International Women’s Day. Industry experts and speakers all agreed that women can attain financial wellness, but a lot of work must be done. 

According to Alice Mwaniki, Head of Personal Banking, at Stanbic Bank and the keynote speaker, financial wellness is more than just having money overflowing in bank accounts.

“Financial wellness is about a holistic view of how you are as a woman. You cannot say you have financial wellness when you are not financially and emotionally stable, physically healthy, or when lacking a financial plan,” she said.

Earning the client’s trust

According to statistics,  48 percent of the entrepreneurial world is run by women. However, according to Mwaniki, businesses owned by women are smaller, less profitable, and have fewer capital investments compared to those owned by men, yet women play a big role in economic development. 

“As women, we contribute to 20 percent of the GDP and 82 percent of the savings in the country. We also contribute 70 percent of the household’s budget. This is why I say women are a movement,” added Mwaniki.

Other speakers at the event including Joanne Mwangi-Yelbert CEO, of Professional Marketing Services (PMS Group) echoed her sentiments. 

Speaking at the event Joanne, whose journey has been shaped by the foundation of entrepreneurial values, the business field is not an easy one to navigate, having seen many new businesses shut down.

“One of the things you need to run a business successfully is to be responsive. Reply to your customers on time and if anything comes up that will affect the arrangements, give a prior notice. This way, you can earn your client’s trust,” said Mwangi.

Navigating her role as the CEO of the PMS group, Joan has encountered various challenges inherent in entrepreneurship. The seasoned entrepreneur encouraged entrepreneurs to never lose hope.

“As an entrepreneur, you need to sell hope, which is part of the recipe for success. 

“Some ingredients like salt, should never lack in the food. Financial literacy, cash flow, and starting capital are some essential requirements needed to start a business,” she said. 

Unfortunately, these are also the same challenges faced by aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Alice Mwaniki Head of Personal Banking Stanbic Bank added: “Our commitment is to leave a legacy.”

Keep your name in people’s mouths

Nancy Muthoni, Founder and Executive Producer and Host of The Property Show, and also chairperson of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Nairobi Chapter for Women in Business Committee, urged businesswomen to embrace networking, arguing that it is not all about exchanging business cards but forging meaningful connections.

“Through networking, we create opportunities for future collaborations, growth, and collective advancements. People think networking is easy. It is not. The trick is to make sure you make an impact on somebody, to the point that they would love to meet you next time,” she added.

Muthoni said that mentorship is about guiding the less experienced or younger generations in the journey of life. It is about ensuring that even after your prime days, there is someone who will walk in your footsteps and keep your name in people’s mouths.

“We must embrace the networking power of mentorship. Let us commit ourselves as women to economic empowerment by saying that it will help us as women increase access to economic resources and opportunities including jobs, financial services, property and other productive assets, skills development, and market information,” she said.

About ParentsAfrica

Parents Africa Integrated Media, the publisher of Parents Magazine convened a special breakfast event on March 8, 2024, to celebrate and recognize the tremendous contribution of women in society. The special breakfast held at Pride Inn Westlands, Luxury Boutique Hotel, converged 120 businesswomen and entrepreneurs from different spheres of society to celebrate achievements and successes, network, and create mentorship avenues.  It brought together businesswomen and entrepreneurs for an engaging morning with great speakers on financial wellness, access to business financing, mentorship, and walking the entrepreneurial journey. 

Parents Africa Integrated Media, an exclusive brand on family issues and inspirational life experiences for the last 37 years has focused on families by covering issues that empower them and also giving a platform for people to share their life experiences. 

Additional reporting by Wambui Gathuka