Berkeley-Haas MBA students Liz Liu, Sevda Gundogan, Sneha Sheth, and Tiffany Shieh participated in a summer IBD project in Kenya with the UN Women.
Quick background: This project is about empowering women in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa at large by providing online entrepreneurship modules. We were asked to find the target segment that would create the biggest impact, tailor Lean Launchpad trainings to the Kenyan context and the target segment, and then write scripts which will be turned into online videos by UN Women.
Women Entrepreneur Focus Groups
Throughout our three weeks in Kenya, we conducted interviews with ten organizations ranging from banks to technology companies to university programs. Through the interviews, we uncovered that UN Women should target high-potential, urban women entrepreneurs who had access to internet in order to make the largest impact. After identifying the target segment, we met with over 30 women entrepreneurs to further understand the challenges they face.
We found that the top priority training modules the women needed were 1) introduction to entrepreneurship 2) finance 3) sales and customer acquisition 4) marketing. We then developed the training scripts and iterated the writing based on feedback from women entrepreneurs to tailor the training to the Kenyan context.
One highlight of our fieldwork in Kenya was the Technovation Challenge, an app design competition for high school girls in Nairobi. The challenge was organized by Safaricom and we were invited to attend and observe. This was truly and inspiring experience for all of us. We saw 16 year old girls create applications for emergencies, healthcare, and other social causes. They had not taken any formal business or coding training, but they had intellectual curiosity and the courage to build prototypes. We spent a day with them and talked about their dreams. They all wanted to change the world and we could see that they all were capable of this. Kenyan females, from illiterate middle-aged women to high school girls, are powerful and impressive.
We came to IBD as four different women from various continents and backgrounds. We didn’t know each other before. We have noticed that IBD brought us together because we all had something in common. We were passionate about creating a better world, empowering women, bringing gender equality through education especially in the least developed parts of the world
We talked with women from various industries and age groups. We discovered their needs and got surprised by how women all over the world were subject to the same discriminations and challenges.
This IBD project was not only a business trip to Kenya but also a personal growth journey for all of us. We got to know each other and ourselves. We discovered how we have faced similar challenges in our careers with the Kenyan women. We shared our passions, our dreams with each other on education and women empowerment. While working on empowering women in Africa, we have noticed that we empowered each other during these five months.
Getting to know each other was the best part of IBD for all of us.