She speaks to MEWC about her experience and journey so far.
MEWC: You created Supamamas in 2011. What was the driving force behind starting this entrepreneurial adventure in a manner of speaking?
CO: I started Supamamas to create a platform where mums can come and connect with each other, connect with experts from pediatricians, life coaches, successful women entrepreneurs as well as connect them with brands/companies. This I have done through creating regular events for the mums and online via our website www.supamamas.co.ke and social media. I am also passionate about community service and mentorship and have infused these in the business, mobilizing mums and companies to also give back.
MEWC: Given you are a mother yourself, how much of your own personal experience played out in defining this venture?
CO: I was actually inspired to start Supamamas when I became a mother. There was so much to learn and wanted to find a way to bring mums together so we can share our experiences. The idea evolved over time to create the website that serves as a portal everything mum and baby in Kenya. Being a mother helps in infusing new ideas for the business because I can relate to other mums needs, fears, dreams and aspirations
MEWC: It aims at empowering women both in their personal and professional lives through a hub of events and information. Could you explain more thoroughly the concept and the mission of Supamamas?
CO: The concept of Supamamas is about coming up with various themes especially for the events. Our calendar of events starts from February to November, for each month we come up with a theme that will equip mums with information in either their personal lives or professional lives. The event themes we have done so far around Personal include the Mama Pampering Event- to remind mums that they are special and they need to take care of themselves not only on the outside but also on the inside. For this event we invited a life coach, other events include Baby Nutrition, Baby Skin, Sleep and Safety Event, Kids Craft and Family Fun Day and so on. When it comes to helping mums improve on their professional lives whether in business or employed, we have done events such as Business Strategies that Work, Personal Branding, Grow Your Personal Brand, Etiquette in Networking, Financial Queens and so on.
The mission is to create holistic events as well as provide information to help mums grow in all areas of their lives.
I infused mentorship in the business because I have been mentored by other successful women. By mentoring others we prepare the next generation of women. And when it comes to giving back- making a difference in other people's lives I think is one of the reasons as human beings why we are here. It's our responsibility.
MEWC: What has been the most challenging aspect of this venture? And the most rewarding experience thus far?
CO: The most challenging aspect of starting out was the common issues such as capital, getting the idea accepted by brands and companies but to me these were not something that discouraged me. I believed that once mums and companies saw the value of what we do the rewards will follow. And that has been the case.
When it comes to the most rewarding aspect, being recognized by my country as one of Kenya's Top 5 Women under 40 in 2013 and Top 40 Under 40 Women, in 2014 is an encouragement to want to do better and inspire others on the possibility of following through with an idea. I have also been recognized by CEO's Magazine South Africa as a finalist for one of Africa's Most Influential Women in Business and Government in 2013. I am also a nominee for the same award this 2014.
MEWC: In 2013, you were nominated among Kenya's Top 5 Women under 40 by Up Magazine, and among the Finalist Most Influential Women in Business in Africa SME Category by South Africa CEO's Magazine. How do you perceive these awards and accolades?
CO: All these recognitions have been very rewarding, I perceive these awards as encouragement not only to me but also to other women that we can succeed in business and we can pass it forward by building other women around us. I do these by mentoring others and being generous with my networks.
MEWC: What are your plans for the future?
CO: My plans for the future are to grow the events first beyond Nairobi to other parts of the country. Am also looking at partnering with other platforms around the world that are passionate about growing women so we can learn from each other.
MEWC: As an experienced entrepreneur, what advice would you give to young Kenyan/African women planning to start their own local businesses?
CO: My advice to other Kenyan/African women planning to start their business is that it can be done. The only thing limiting what we can do is our perception and what we tell ourselves we can't do. You can start an idea and grow it with time also remember to invest in yourself by approaching other successful entrepreneurs to mentor you and invent in books or literature to grow in your field. There are a lot of resources online as well.
MEWC: In the context of women's empowerment, what maybe the intersecting points between Supamamas and women's rights at large?
CO: As much as we are a platform that provides information on motherhood, we empower women through the caliber of speakers invited at the events most of whom are successful leaders and experts. Supamamas reminds our attendees that being a woman should not be a limiting factor to striving to be the best. Opportunities are endless. I believe there is no better time to be a woman in Africa than now.
MEWC: What is the Kenya you want when it comes to addressing women's rights and issue of gender equality?
CO: I believe my country is pretty much balanced in gender equality opportunities and we also happen to be very outspoken so at any point that we feel infringed we speak out.
MEWC: What is the Africa you want?
CO: The Africa I wish for is one that looks within itself to build itself. For a long time we have depended on foreign aid and foreign ideas. For our own situation we can develop home grown ideas. An ideal situation would be for us to support each other within our countries and across the borders. Perhaps we are the generation than can change all that including the quality of our leadership to be of service to the people.
MEWC: What is your motto?
CO: Napoleon Hill's "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." These are words I live by. I am also a Rotarian and try to infuse the "4 Way Test" in all that I do. The 4 Way test encourages Service above self.