In 2020, as the global pandemic hit, we brought our flagship business skills training app HerVenture to women entrepreneurs in Kenya, thanks to support from our partner DHL Express. Wangari is one of the 1,100 Kenyan women who took the opportunity to make use of the app and strengthen her business against COVID-19’s impacts.
Before we were running blind, so the app is a light in the dark.
“My name is Wangari Mwaura. I’m the founder of New Star Organic, founded in 2016. It’s a handmade skincare soap manufacturer, based here in Keno, Kenya. I’ve been doing this sort of business for 10 years, as I’m motivated to find natural alternatives for skin care.
New Star Organic is our family’s main source of income and has been so for the past four years. In the last years the organic skincare market has exploded! People are aware of natural skincare products, the market is growing, and it’s an opportunity for others to join us and move away from chemical-based products.
I was brought up in an environment where women were encourage to achieve their best to go forward, to achieve their goals. So from an early age I wanted to be a financially independent lady and to run my own life. Before I started New Star, I was a student, and immediately after university I decided to start my own business.
Women entrepreneurs go through tremendous challenges: one is financial inclusion, and another big challenge is the balance between work life and home life. Financial independence is number one for me, and flexibility, so I can work when I want and raise my family.
My situation now, with a newborn baby, is definitely a serious challenge, but thank God for this digital tools like the HerVenture app! It has enable me to run my business and keep learning even when I’m at home and taking care of my baby.
When a woman is empowered, the community is empowered, and when a woman is empowered and has financial independence it’s a very powerful combination. I’m able to make better choices for my family.
At the beginning of the [COVID-19] crisis we didn’t know what would come next. It affected our business and slowed down things, but as people became more aware of the need to take care of themselves our online opportunities grew. We grew because we were online, and because hygiene is so relevant during these times.
In light of the pandemic, we actually survived. I’m aware that so many people have struggled so for us to have a positive story has been a great achievement.
I first heard of HerVenture in May, through networking with other women. Through it, I learned how to launch a business, to use e-commerce platforms, to prepare myself, use business language, articulate challenges and forge ahead in a business environment. It’s given me the tools to share with other women how to manage different sides of business.
Before we were running blind, so the app is a light in the dark. It helps us to know what to do, and if you’re stuck you can access the tool to address it. We were in a new market: part of the app talks about new markets and launching a business, so it has helped me navigate that space and remain relevant, and continues to provide tools. It’s also boosted my confidence in business.
Trust in God not give up. The environment can be difficult and sometimes not friendly to women – I encourage other women to keep improving yourself and to network and access these tools; to empower yourself and your business.
I’m a Godfearing creative, happy-go-lucky person who’s excited about life. I now see us scaling, reaching a wider market in the region of East Africa and eventually all of Africa.
Women go through challenges. I encourage younger women not to be afraid of business: know there is opportunity for all of us, and use tools like HerVenture. Thank you very much for this tool that can empower us.”
Find out more about HerVenture in Kenya
HerVenture is one of the Foundation’s three flagship programmes. The business skills mobile learning app provides women entrepreneurs of micro and small enterprises with the knowledge and skills to successfully grow their businesses. It has reached more than 41,000 women to date.
Discover more women entrepreneurs' stories:
Stacy’s story: heritage, home recipes, and HerVenture
Stacy Reece runs East Gate Products and Café in Guyana. She used our HerVenture app to learn about mobile money and how it can boost her business.
Ivonne’s story: Mobile money translates to better business
Ivonne Ocrospoma runs L&L Translation Services in Guyana. She used our HerVenture app's mobile money track to learn about mobile money and how it can boost her business.
Yolanda and Ivette’s story: working together for mutual benefits
Yolanda Odida is the founder of Pure Purple in Nairobi, Kenya. She was matched with her mentor, DHL's Ivette Townshend, for a year of collaboration.