It’s been one year since the Women’s Entrepreneurial Center of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) opened in Lavington, Kenya on November 17, 2015. On Thursday, as part of a week-long celebration during Global Entrepreneurship Week, the center officially celebrated their progress in providing the tools and resources to support the growth of successful women-owned businesses.
All week entrepreneurs were participating in classes and workshops on topics such as financial readiness, women in leadership, and scaling through technology. The 14 finalists of the WECREATE Challenge — a business model competition and acceleration program for women entrepreneurs learning how to turn their idea into a viable business, how to go to market quickly, build an effective team, modify their business model, and understand what drives customers and revenue — competed for cash prizes on Friday. They rose to the top out of 130 participating women business owners.
These women join the ranks of leaders like Florence Kamaitha, founder of Pad Heaven Initiative and graduate of WECREATE’s 15-week StartUp Academy program. Pad Heaven produces low cost sanitary pads with an aim of reducing absenteeism from school during girls’ menses. They work with the inmates at Langata Women’s Prisons in Nairobi to make the re-usable pads, thus creating an economic opportunities and reducing recidivism for prisoners.
Or women like Winnie Gita, founder of Kwangu Kwako Limited. Kwangu Kwako is a social enterprise that manufactures and builds precast concrete houses that are cost-effective and safer alternatives to mabati (metal sheet and bush pole), prevalent materials used in the slums of Nairobi and many cities across the globe.
For the last year, the WECREATE Kenya center has provided over 1,200 women business owners like Kamaitha and Gita with training, networking events, and entrepreneurship guidance they needed to succeed.
“We’re thrilled to see the women who have gone through our programs thriving in their businesses in a way that will reverberate within their communities for a long time to come. Between rebounding local economies and young girls who are seeing their mothers and role models making a difference, we at GriffinWorx are proud about what we — and they — have accomplished,” said Sean Griffin, founder and CEO of GriffinWorx.
Back in February, U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec praised the center for “providing women with networking opportunities, where startups can begin to explore new ideas, where women with no business experience can find resources to help them develop and expand and in doing so create new possibilities for themselves and their families.” This is in line with the priorities of President Barack Obama, who called women business owners “powerhouse entrepreneurs” who “drive economic growth.”
WECREATE Kenya is one of six such centers supported by GriffinWorx worldwide. There are currently WECREATE Centers in Zambia, Pakistan, Cambodia and Vietnam, which just opened last month.
GriffinWorx is an inclusive economic and gender empowerment organization that helps our partners achieve meaningful and enduring impact around the world. We bring the entrepreneurial spirit, courage and innovation of a world-class firm to address some of the world’s toughest challenges. The organization operates a portfolio of proprietary economic empowerment programs including, WECREATE, StartUp Cup, StartUp Academy and Mentor Certification operate in over 60 countries resulting in nearly 4,000 businesses, created over 40,000 jobs and generated over $744 million in economic impact.
WECREATE is a global network of Women Entrepreneurship Community Centers being replicated in communities around the world. The WECREATE Initiative is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs and GriffinWorx.
WECREATE Centers are powered by GriffinWorx and specifically designed to advance gender equality in entrepreneurship through tools, programming and events created to address the barriers faced by women seeking to start and grow their businesses.