Young Women Test their Entrepreneurial Skills at Enterprise Club Competitions in Kenya

Under the Auspices of TechnoServe/Kenya, Project Baobab, and Young Women in Enterprise Clubs

NAIROBI, KENYA, MARCH 2, 2007 —Despite many obstacles in their lives, about 235 young women ages 15 to 20, in some of the most disadvantaged areas around Nairobi and Thika, are confidently standing up for their economic future in local Enterprise Club Competitions held from 27 February through 16 March 2007. Trained by TechnoServe/Kenya and Project Baobab in the Young Women in Enterprise (YWE) program, these youths are testing their newly-acquired business knowledge and life skills in front of panels of judges at 11 venues. Judges listen to each girl's business plan for starting her own enterprise, provide additional insight into her ideas, and assess which few girls have the best chance to build successful companies. All participants will be recognized and winners will receive prizes and/or cash ranging from 5,000 Ksh to 15,000 Ksh at each venue's award ceremony.

Then the top 20 business plans from across the local Enterprise Club Competitions will be presented to new judging panels on Friday, 20 April 2007 (location to be announced). The Final Awards Ceremony at the end of 20 April will acknowledge the crème de la crème of all of these winning Young Women in Enterprise. 500,000 Ksh in total will have been awarded to 24 women by the end of the final Enterprise Club Competition. In addition, these prize winners might be qualified to seek support from the newly-launched Youth Enterprise Development Fund via the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs.

Youth must overcome many more challenges then a typical entrepreneur faces in starting a business, e.g., lack of credibility with financial institutions, poor support structure, no business training, and few role models. Adolescent girls' problems are further amplified by responsibility for siblings, unwanted pregnancies, and domestic abuse. Thus it took bravery for YWE's 15 to 20 year old women to form five school-based and nine out-of-school Enterprise Clubs starting in fall 2006.

"Families and communities have come to cheer for these young women at the first few Enterprise Club Competitions. We hope that the local groundswell of support will grow around each and every girl to truly enable all Young Women in Enterprise Club members to become independent, high-achieving business women. TechnoServe, its partner Project Baobab, and sponsor Nike Foundation are extremely proud to have had a role in launching such future business leaders," said Fred Ogana, TechnoServe/Kenya Country Director.

These young women are thrilled by their own progress. One Kariobangi participant exclaimed, "I'm so broke, I didn't think we would write such great business plans!" Now we need YOU to ensure the success of your future customers, suppliers, and colleagues who will help drive our Kenyan economy. One local chief said it best, "This is the way to alleviate poverty one community at a time."

We invite local communities to boost these fledgling business women's ambitions by attending the Enterprise Club Competitions (see dates, locations in the table below) as well as contributing in other ways:

* Donate prizes or cash for winners of club and inter-club competitions;
* Sponsor a current or new Young Women in Enterprise Club;
* Volunteer as mentors or guest speakers at club meetings;
* Offer job shadow experience to local clubs;
* Provide internships to YWE program alumna;
* Assist and advise start-up businesses.

At all the following enterprise clubs girls present their business plans from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and the awards ceremony goes from 2:00 p.m. up to 4:00 p.m. at the following venues:

Kibagare Community
Tues., 27 Feb.
Kibagare Nursery School

Kariobangi & Huruma Community
Wed., 28 Feb.
Kariobangi Social Hall

Fuata Nyayo Community
Fri., 2 Mar.
Mariakani Church Hall

Juja Community
Tue., 6 Mar.
Juja Methodist Church

Kibera Community
Wed., 7 Mar.
KGGA Centre

Kangari Community
Thurs., 8 Mar.
Kangari Polytechnic

Githurai Community
Fri., 9 Mar.
Life Reformation Church

Gurec School
Tues., 13 Mar.
GUREC Secondary School, Ziwani

Ikumbi School
Wed., 14 Mar.
Ikumbi Secondary School, Kangari

Brother Beausang School
Thurs., 15 Mar.
Brother Beausang, Ngong

Githunguri School
Fri., 16 Mar.
Githunguri Secondary School, Ruiru

About TechnoServe: TechnoServe helps entrepreneurial men and women in the developing world to build businesses that provide jobs, income and economic opportunity. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or improve more than 2,000 businesses, benefiting millions of people in 32 countries. TechnoServe is currently working to build and expand businesses in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda, Ghana, Madagascar, Rwanda, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire and India. TechnoServe has been recognized as one of the world's "Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs" by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.