Guest Blog by Clare Kagimu, a Ugandan-born, but now UK resident, this talented Interior Architect and Designer shares her insights on the challenges facing women entrepreneurs both at home and abroad.
Hello, my fellow Lionesses! Let me hear you Roar!
It’s been a while since my last article. This month I am so excited to share a few of my personal insights that might help shed some light on some of the challenges facing women entrepreneurs of the Diaspora overseas, and how those challenges might differ from those of their fellow women back home on the African continent.
It is safe to say that the working woman today faces a list of challenges - the traditional atmosphere in the corporate office environment can be very male dominated. The Diaspora has offered women overseas a very diverse opportunity to trail-blaze and be all she can be in the global marketplace.
Statistics have shown a general rise in a younger generation coming through of highly entrepreneurial, skilled and ambitious young women from Africa. They are now breaking the mould and daring to have a voice, seize a new-found opportunity to showcase their talents and skill. But it has been a very long time coming.
Having done some research into the reasons for this phenomenon, here are my findings. There are still far too few women in corporate boardrooms and executive suites to act as role models for up and coming young entrepreneurs. Even though there are many women who are equally competent, qualified and ready to start up and lead businesses as their male colleagues, many women have settled for the front desk #Thereceptiondesk. Yet, they are vastly overqualified for the companies they opt to represent as simply ‘the face’ or ‘the voice’. In the corporate world, not all employers are attentive to the need to act as change agents, and to do something to encourage women to be the leading agents behind this much needed change of mindset.
When researchers asked managers in the information systems field about the challenges women in that particular profession face, they uncovered a serious gender gap: male and female managers think about the problem in very different ways. In focus group discussions, both men and women managers expressed awareness of such challenges as balancing work and family due to long working hours, subtle forms of discrimination against women in the corporate world, a lack of mentors for women, and the inability for women to break through the glass ceiling.
So where does entrepreneurship provide the solution to these types of challenges? For some working women, they have opted to address the challenge of how to balance work and family life by becoming entrepreneurial start-ups with an online presence which allows them to work from home whilst running successful businesses. This provides the best of both worlds for women and creates the opportunity for women to participate in the business environment but on their own entrepreneurial terms.
Clare Kagimu is an interior architect and designer, originally from Uganda but now living and working in Glasgow in the UK. Her company Phoenix Design is a branding solutions company, and her portfolio of creative work has included such unique projects as the designing of some of the eye-catching and highly specialised Velodrome suits worn at the prestigious Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow, UK. Clare comes from a creative background, her late father Paul Archie Kagimu was one of the pioneering architects of Uganda.