Yesterday on International Women’s Day (March 8), Networking in Heels Africa hosted Networking In Heels – Women in Tech edition, at Best Western Premier in Hurlingham Nairobi. The event happened in tandem with similar events in Hong Kong, New York and London and the panel featured an amazing array of women entrepreneurs, take a look:
- Audrey Cheng co-founder and CEO of Moringa School which runs intensive coding classes over a twelve week programme, Cheng has been named among Forbes Top 30 and 30 social entrepreneurs of 2016.
- Dr Chao Mbogo, reasearcher in educational technology with a PhD from University of Cape Town, Mbogo hopes to bridge the learning gap experienced by those in rural areas through the use of mobile phones.
- Jaki Mebur, Senior Core Networks support at Safaricom and administrator of Safaricom’s Women in Technology Internship programme.
- Vava Angwenyi founder of Vava Coffee, Vava’s passion is to offer growth and support to small scale coffee farmers through social change and economic empowerment.
- Catherine Mahugu founder of ShopSoko, an online retail store that connects artisans from developing countries to the rest of the world via mobile phones.
- Lindsey Caldwell, is an operations management specialist and director of East Africa Operations at Angaza design, a company offering solar power solutions. She is a Stanford alumni who has previously worked at One Acre fund and was COO at Yum.co.ke.
As you can see, this panel was quite exceptional. Here’s what I learnt from what they had to share:
Build a support system
It is easy to get dragged down by naysayers and people who will not see your vision, even worse are those who would rather see you fail than succeed. As a female entrepreneur, building a strong support network of like minded individuals and people who cheer you through good and bad times is important.
Girls are taught to it’s cute to be scared while boys are rewarded fro being brave. Taking risks is an essential part of being an entrepreneur. Hiding behind a societal expectation will not do you any favours, get out there and start doing.
Quitting is not losing
If the time comes and you find yourself getting an offer or finding yourself in a career that is not serving your best interests, it’s okay to move on. In other words, ‘you better know when to fold ’em’ or like Oprah said, ‘failure is just life trying to move you in another direction’. So move, you are not a tree or _________ ‘insert any other immovable object you can think of here’.
Learn to say No
For women, saying no to certain demands at work is hard. Many will say yes because they do not want to be viewed in an unfavourable light (not a nice person, rhymes with snitch) or are afraid of looking incompetent despite their glowing track records. Saying ‘No’ empowers you to spend your energy on the projects that matter most. Don’t fear the word.
Constantly bemoaning the issues facing women has never helped anyone. It’s more important to work on solutions that actually solve the problems than just dwell on them. For example, networking and mentorship activities help women collaborate, understand and lift each other up instead of merely viewing each other as rivals. That’s a great solution to an oft cited problem.
Girls run this
There is something great about being a girl. The Always advert #LikeAGirl was used as a reference point to illustrate how women are taught to undermine themselves as they get older . You are your own greatest resource, don’t downplay your strengths.
And then of course it was time for some fun … Magnum chocolate cocktail, Vava Merchandise, getting eyebrows done by Chelsea Boutique, gift cards by eGiftAfrica and networking with female coders, social media entrepreneurs and all round boss women in heels (flats and sandals too).