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MARCH 8, 2014

MARCH 8, 2014

Bringing women to the top makes economic sense However, with efforts from the women’s movement calling for gender equality in all levels of decision making, more women are now ascending to positions of leadership and decision-making. The law now compels appointing bodies to abide by the two thirds gender rule as outlined in Article 232 (1) (i) which calls for values and principles in public service to “affording adequate and equal opportunities for appointment, training and advancement at all levels of public service of men and women; members of all ethnic groups; and persons with disabilities”. A study conducted by the Grant Thornton International in 2008 reveals that women still hold less than a quarter of the senior management positions in privately held businesses globally. This translates to 24 per cent of senior management positions, a figure that is identical to 2007 with a marginal improvement from 2004 when only 19 per cent of senior level positions were held by women.

Study A similar study by the Business Women’s Association in South Africa found out that since 2005 there has been a steady increase in the number of women serving as directors from 10.7 percent to 11.5 per cent. Other studies have shown that the environment for women in senior roles improves when a third of leaders at that level are female. It also indicates that when a critical mass of 30 per cent or more are women at board level or in senior management organisations produce the best financial results. An analysis by the Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) reveals that there are a total of 1,091 board seats for state corporations and 449 in listed companies. Women account for only 20 per cent in state corporations and 12 per cent in listed companies. This is despite the fact that women make up 50 percent of the total Kenyan population.

Success There are many success stories for women in corporate sector in Kenya. Some of them include:

• Tabitha Karanja — Chief Executive Officer at Keroche industry. • Caroline Ndung’u — Marketing Director at East African Breweries Limited. • Dorothy Ooko — Communications Manager, East and Francophone Africa, Google. • Mary Barra — CEO, General Motors. • Gina Din Kariuki — Founder and the

• Angela Mwirigi — Director, Marketing and Communications, Kenya Commercial Bank.

Barra served as an Executive Director of Vehicle Manufacturing Engineering of General Motors Corporation (now Motors Liquidation Company) until July 2009.

• Suzanne Kilolo — Investor Relations Manager, Safaricom. • Agnes Wahito — Supply Planning and Inbound Logistics Manager, Unilever East and Southern Africa. • Maggie Ireri — Managing Director, IPSOS Synovate. • Esther Kagiri — Managing Director, Globe Track International. • Lois Akoth — Head of Legal Affairs, Telkom Kenya.

Benefits There are organisational advantages in integrating women in leadership since “we share differences in attitudes, interests and experiences”. The presence of women in boards can help enrich board discussions as new perspectives and ways of solving problems are brought on the table. This affects the overall performance and profitability of an enterprise. Kenya should borrow a leaf from Rwanda, which has done much in ensuring gender parity. It has been found that companies where gender parity is applied are more influential in the economy. For instance, Norway has made huge strides towards gender justice in corporate governance. It is the first country to have introduced a quota system for women on company boards. The system which was introduced in 2003 has helped to increase the level of women representation to 40 per cent with companies that failed to comply being sanctioned. The Norwegian experience reveals that a quota is the key to successful implementation as it not only creates pressure for fundamental change in appointments but it also triggers public debate on gender equality in the wider society. Getting women in the boardroom is not just about better representation at the top, it is not just about bringing a more colourful and construct outlook into the boardroom but it makes economic sense.

It is one of East Africa’s leading providers of payTV, broadband internet and VoIP services. In 2011, the company raised $57.5 million (KSH48.87 billion) in growth capital from a group of international investors.

She served as Vice President of Global Human Resources at General Motors Company from July 30, 2009 to February 1, 2011.

• Agatha Gikunda — Head of Applications, Services and Developer Ecosystems, Nokia East Africa.

Although talents are distributed evenly among men and women, male dominance in company boards leads to underutilisation of women’s skills.


She served as Senior Vice President of Global Product Development at General Motors Company since February 1, 2011 and served as its Chief of Product Development.

• Elizabeth Njeri — Head of Legal, Google, Sub-Saharan Africa.

This list shows how women have risen to top leadership positions in boardrooms. Women now hold top positions and show good governance and decision making at their work.

jeri Rionge is the co-founder of the internet service provider Wananchi Online that has since been transformed into Wananchi Group Holdings.

Barra served as Executive Vice President of Global Product Development and Global Purchasing and Supply Chain at General Motors Company from August 2013 to January 15, 2014.

Chairperson of Gina Din Corporate Communications (GDCC).

• Sophia Mukoba — Financial Controller, British American Tobacco East Africa.

ary T. Barra has been the Chief Executive Officer of General Motors Company since January 15, 2014.

photo courtesy of PMS website

The fight for women to be included at the decision making table has come a long, and 50 years since independence Kenya is still struggling to ensure women are in decision making positions.

Njeri Rionge

Tabitha Karanja


abitha Karanja is the founder and chief executive officers Keroche Breweries. Karanja founded Keroche Breweries, the first ever brewery to be owned by a Kenyan. Some of the challenges that Karanja has faced include; competition from multinationals, high taxation and meddling from high powered government officials.

Karanja has shown good resilience that has seen the business grow into a respected company.

She served as Vice President of Global Manufacturing Engineering at Motors Liquidation Company from February 1, 2008 to July 2009. She began her career with General Motors in 1980 as a General Motors Institute (Kettering University) coop student at the Pontiac Motor Division. She has been Director of General Dynamics Corporation since March 15, 2011. She was named one of Automotive News 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry in 2005, and 2010.

With its flagship brands, Summit Lager and Summit Malt, the brewery has proven resilience in the market.

In 2010, she also earned Kettering Alumni Association’s Management Achievement Award for her specific contributions with positive and lasting effects in the field of management.

“When Keroche commenced operations fingers were pointed at us and the rumours of theycannot-do-it was written on the faces of many who never believed a Kenyan company could penetrate a grid-tight multinational market where the end justified the means even if the means is not justifiable,” says Karanja.

Barra has been known to drive some of her company’s more racy models during weekends at the track.

Beyond the expectations of her detractors, Karanja invested in a KSh1 billion ($11.6 million) plant with the capacity of producing 6,000 half-litre bottles per hour.

Gina Din Kariuki —

Joanne Mwangi


oanne Mwangi is the founder and chief executive officer of Professional Marketing Services Group

Sixteen years ago, Mwangi founded Professional Marketing Services, a group that currently has five subsidiaries and a presence across the East African region. Mwangi has steered the Professional Marketing Services Group from a small agency to a leading marketing group providing a full range of agency services, including advertising, public relations, event management, trade promotions, consumer promotions, trade merchandising and marketing strategy development. Over the years, Professional Marketing Services has grown in size and its clients include Reckitt Benckiser, Prigat, Airbus and East African Breweries (EABL). In 2010 Professional Marketing Services was voted number one in the Top 100 Small Micro Enterprise competition in Kenya.

Business Lounge, another of Rionge’s ventures, is helping other entrepreneurs build successful businesses. The Lounge acts as a business incubator for start-up companies and as a business club for more established firms and individuals. Rionge is also a motivational speaker and life coach.

Eva Muraya


va Muraya is the founder and chief executive officer of Brand Strategy and Design, a regional brand strategy development agency.

Muraya’s entry into the business world came only after a great personal tragedy, the loss of her husband. Muraya started Colour Creations Africa Limited, a branded merchandise company. Until recently she was still the chief executive officer at Colour Creations.

Mwangi also won the Lady Entrepreneur of the Year award at the same competition sponsored by the Nation Media Group and KPMG. In 2009 she beat women entrepreneurs from 75 countries worldwide to emerge as the winner of the Organisation of Women in International Trade (OWIT) Woman of the Year award.

In addition, Muraya is an alumnus of the Legatum Pioneers of Prosperity and her business Colour Creations was a top finalist in the 2006 Africa Business Awards.

Mwangi is also the chairperson of the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Associations, an organisation that seeks to create an enabling business environment for women.

An advocate of the economic empowerment of women, Muraya co-founded the Kenya Association of Women Business Owners. She is also a chairperson to the board of the Zawadi Africa Educational Fund (Kenya), an organisation that provides scholarships for needy and academically talented girls.



ina Din Kariuki started being an entrepreneur at 15 years. Her parents owned a hotel in Nanyuki and she needed to make pocket money. So, she started a disco night in the hotel.

Together with her husband, Mukherjee opened a printing supplies shop in Nairobi in the 1980s after moving to Kenya from India.

Kariuki’s focus is on making her brand an African brand.

Mukherjee has steered Software Technologies Limited from humble beginnings with just five employees to one of the largest software houses in eastern Africa with a presence in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, India and the United Arab Emirates.

In 1991 she started Software Technologies Limited (STL), one of Africa’s leading software distribution companies making hundreds of millions of Kenyan shillings in sales every year.

Her biggest impact in the industry and the person she grew most with professionally is Michael Joseph, former chief executive officer at Safaricom.

photo courtesy of Gina Din website

Rionge once said in an interview with Forbes Magazine: “I create companies serially because I believe that Africa is the next economic frontier and we must build indigenous organisations that will support this growth.”

yoti Mukherjee is the chief executive officer Software Technologies Limited.

Founder and Chairperson of Gina Din Corporate Communications

Her memorable moments include spearheading the ‘Kenyans for Kenya’ campaign which was started in July 2011. The historic initiative was in response to famine and deaths from starving Kenyans in Turkana. Kenyans were mobilized to redound to the campaign. Over KSh700 million was raised. Kariuki is also the Kenya Red Cross goodwill ambassador.

A typical serial entrepreneur, Rionge has over the years founded a number of successful companies. She currently runs Ignite Consulting, a firm that engages in coaching, strategy facilitation, organisational effectiveness and skills training.

Muraya has had various success stories and awards including the premier Goldman Sachs Fortune Global Leaders Award. She was also nominated to receive The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) World of Difference 100 Award.

Jyoti Mukherjee

Software Technologies Limited today can count over 150 corporations in East Africa as its clients, making Mukherjee one of the few women who have founded and run big technology firms in the region.

photo courtesy of GM Website


ue to the patriarchal tradition in African, women have been at the periphery of leadership and decision making.

Mary Barra



By Hellen Kivaya

Kenyan Woman


photo courtesy of Njeri Rionge website


In 2007 she was recognised as the Top ICT Businesswoman in Africa at the African ICT Achievers Awards. Mukherjee also founded the Institute of Software Technologies (IST), a fullyfledged ICT training institute that provides education for IT professionals, developers and business analysts.

photo courtesy of Brand Strategy and Design limited website

Kenyan Woman


Special issue of the Kenyan Woman newspaper for International Women's Day 2014


Special issue of the Kenyan Woman newspaper for International Women's Day 2014