Conversation 3: Expanding Horizons: The Next Brilliant Cadre of Women Entrepreneurs

GES 2015 in Nairobi
Conversation 3: Expanding Horizons: The Next Brilliant Cadre of Women Entrepreneurs
Saturday, July 25, 2015

Moderator:   Jean Case; The Case foundation
Panelists:      1. Breanna Zwart, Google, in charge of emerging markets
                       2. Mark Straub, Kholsa Impact – venture capital fund
                       3. Nermn Fawazi Sa’d, fonder – virtual engineering, Saudi Arabia
                       4. Isis Nyong’o, founder Mums village

Estimated no of participants:     90 people

Jean:   No better investment idea than investing in women
•    Kenya has remarkable women investors that have broken barriers
•    Women-owned and run business are stable and more secure for investors
•    Women-owned business is not about women but about the business.  Women should endeavor to position themselves as equal to the task 
•    Women investment should be about changing the world, focusing  on big goals

•    Improving visible of small business
•    Reaching out to emerging market
•    Investing in broadband to enable women entrepreneurs to access information better  
•    Reach less visible clients and women-owned business to expose to investors

•    Venture capital fund focused on social impact.  Keen to empower entrepreneurs aiming to improve social impact, providing capital to change agents and resolving development challenges
•    Focus on ecosystem health; have diversity in your portfolio
•    Focusing on emerging market
•    When investing, hire people with different skills set than yourself
•    Choose managers who have interest in different sectors, have networks beyond yours and have other experience

•    As woman engineer from Saudi Arabia, I wanted to practice my specialty yet observe the cultural norms of my country 
•    Do not put barriers on yourself.  As a qualified engineer, I set up a virtual company that provided engineering opportunities in Saudi Arabia to outside world
•    Women entrepreneur can change the perspective of their clients by not emphasizing on their gender; focus on providing superior service to clients
•    Win trust, don’t compete

•    Isis started  media technology company to build platforms for women entrepreneurs
•    Strike a balance between self-promotion.  Sometimes frowned upon in certain cultures, and reaching target markets
•    Do research to understand potential clients 
•    Get advice from successful women entrepreneurs, 
•    Get visibility for your products online
•    Produce goods and service that are relevant for local environment

Challenges and opportunities
•    With technology, you can build brands for their entire world market
•    Technology is a leveler – it removes challenges that are peculiar to women or to emerging markets 
•    Limited capital leads to risk averseness
•    Use technology to identify gaps and to present your products to large audiences
•    There are few or no talented women mentors and businesses insulators  in emerging markets

•    We are what we can imagine ourselves to be 
•    Banking with people with lower income can be profitable
•    Technology is a major enabler of medium and small enterprises
•    Kenya is major hub of technology innovations, invest in emerging markets
•    Look out for investment opportunities with social impact
•    You will meet dream makers and dream breakers, consider failure as an option 
•    Risk taking is step one. How you weather the risks builds your resilience