In the course of the year, Mary Muthoni Muriuki has interacted with the high and mighty across the East African region and beyond in her quest to push for women to be fully involved in businesses. Her journey has seen her interact with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as well as other leaders in Africa.
Mary is the CEO and president of the Kenyan based Women In Business (WIB) and she acknowledges that her quest to put focus on women affairs and how they engage in business has not been easy but quite rewarding.
Each year, Mary and Women in Business organize the Women in Business Awards since 2017. These awards continues to be distinguished in awarding women in Kenya by fueling entrepreneurial impulse in women in Kenya.
“Our Mission is to promote, assist and enhance economic and business development for all our members at both National and County level so as to stimulate wealth at all levels of governments right from the communities they represent,’ notes Mary. “We shall strive to blend all women professionals in the Women in Business to find the synergy required to empower and create an expanded economic atmosphere and market for all-inclusive business development.”
In a bid to enhance EAC integration and the Women in Business growth, Mary led a delegation from WIB and had a chat with President Museveni during the Women Empowerment program for Kenya/Uganda Cross Border Trading in Tororo.
Frictionless trade across borders is integral to the growth and development of today’s global economy, she acknowledges. “His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Kenya together with his counterpart His Excellency Kaguta Museveni have been at the forefront to fostering better trade and removing trade barriers and promotion of peace and co-existence for both countries.”
The two-day program was initiated through the office of Her Excellency, Ms. Phoebe Otaala, the High Commissioner of Uganda to Kenya. The theme is Unlocking business women’s potential in the region – Uganda/Kenya Chapter. This will be duplicated in various parts of Kenya, Uganda the larger EAC.
WIB has been championing to resolve issues surrounding Financing of Female enterprises, Expansion of market growth and Mentorship. This has been made easier through Networking and Partnerships.
Mary notes that women in Cross Border trading experience myriad challenges not limited to harassment- physical and psychological, Infrastructural, policy, procedural, and behavioral constraints at the border hinder traders’ ability to grow and formalize.
As Mary observes, existing structures such as border offices and market stalls are often dilapidated, whilst toilets, lighting, and fencing are typically absent. In addition, high customs duties, complex clearance procedures, cumbersome documentary requirements (often featuring centralized permit and licensing systems), along with unpredictable trade policies all contribute to raising trade costs, she adds. Lack of knowledge about the same is the bigger challenge.
During the recent awards ceremony held in Nairobi, several women were feted for their work in several categories across the region. These included the trailblazers award which recognized the work done by Tabitha Karanja, the CEO of Keroche Breweries, Liz Wanyoike, the proprietor of Emory Hotels and Nairobi Business School (NIBS), Melvins tea founder Flora Mutahi, Joanne Mwangi, the CEO of PMS Group Africa and Terry Mungai, the franchise owner of Miss Kenya.