Ally Angula and Tammy Knott are two young women entrepreneurs making names for themselves as rising stars of the Namibian business scene. Their success has seen them invited to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) to be held July 24-26, 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya under the auspices of the United States Government. President Barack Obama will attend the GES summit reinforcing his commitment to women's entrepreneurship in a recent Whitehouse briefing where he stated, "... we’re going to step up our efforts to support young entrepreneurs and women, which is just smart business."
Launched by President Obama in 2009, GES brings together entrepreneurs and investors from across Africa and around the world annually to showcase innovative projects, exchange new ideas, and help spur economic opportunity. This year's event is the first time that the US will host the annual event in an African Sub-Saharan country. The 2015 GES agenda will focus on generating new investments for entrepreneurs, with a particular focus on women and youth. The selection of Nairobi as host city for the 2015 GES underscores how Africa -- notably Kenya -- has become a center for innovation and entrepreneurship. Kenya is a world leader in mobile money systems, like m-Pesa, and a driver of innovation through technology research and incubation labs like “iHub.”
"And this summer, I’ll travel to Kenya. While I’m there, I’ll participate .... in the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit. And I’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the brilliant young entrepreneurs from across Africa and around the world. If enough folks respond to the challenge that I’m issuing today, I believe that at the summit in Nairobi we’ll be able to announce new investments and commitments that will pay off for years to come."
- President Barak Obama
Speaking about this year's GES in Nairobi, President Obama in his May 11th Remarks at the Whitehouse issued a call to action, challenging companies, organizations, and individuals to increase their investments in global emerging entrepreneurs. President Obama has also prioritised increasing global support for women and young entrepreneurs. The United States is making empowering women and youth a central objective of its global entrepreneurship programs. In his remarks President Obama stated: "... we’re going to step up our efforts to support young entrepreneurs and women, which is just smart business. We want to spur entrepreneurship in places where it can do the most good and have the greatest impact. And we’re going to work even harder to reach entrepreneurs who face the highest hurdles when it comes to accessing the essential tools of entrepreneurship -— finance, support networks, mentors."
Today, even as innovation and entrepreneurship spread rapidly around the world, there are many marginalized groups unable to realize their entrepreneurial aspirations. Access to capital, training, and markets, as well as cultural and legal barriers continue to prevent millions from starting their own ventures. For this reason, the President directed U.S. programs to increase efforts to attract investment for women and young entrepreneurs. This increased emphasis builds on a strong foundation of programs that have pioneered new engagement with emerging entrepreneurs around the world in recent years.
In line with President Obama's focus on expanding opportunities for women and young entrepreneurs, the U.S. Embassy in Windhoek, will be assisting the two female entrepreneurs, Ally Angula and Tammy Knott, to attend the summit. Ally Angula owns Leap Holding, a group of companies working in commercial farming and in clothing, while Tammy Knott is the owner of Mbiri Natural Skin Care products.
The U.S Ambassador to Namibia, Thomas Daughton, said, “I’m pleased to announce that Miss Angula and Miss Knott have distinguished themselves and have been selected to represent Namibia at a special session designed specifically for youth and women entrepreneurs”. The summit will provide emerging young businesswomen like Ally and Tammy with the opportunity to connect with investors , other businesses, service providers and non-profit organisations, to enhance their skills, create relationships and expand opportunities to grow their businesses.
“As a young woman it is scary to find women who are active in commercial agriculture, and then run the risk of losing clients who take their business elsewhere. I want to learn as much from this summit as I can and I want to be able to build good businesses relationships that will enable me to bring them on board and expand my local Namibian brand to international markets.”
- Ally Angula
Ally is the founder of Leap Holdings and is engaged in a diversified portfolio of business covering horticulture, agri-processing, manufacturing and retail.
Through Leap Agribusiness (Pty) Ltd she grew her first potato crop during 2014 on 13.6 hectares (33.60 acres) under overhead irrigation. Within the next three years she aims to have 300 hectares (741.316 acres) under irrigation around the country. Ally established Leap Manufacturing Namibia (Pty) Ltd to add value to goods grown by the Group and she continues to research and evaluate food processing technologies to add value to her agricultural produce. The third strand in Ally's business portfolio is Leap Retail (Pty) Ltd a company targeting the local market with its branded goods. Leap Retail opened its first branded outlet My Republik on 23 October 2014 at the Grove Mall of Namibia in Windhoek's Kleine Kuppe suburb. My Republik online will launch on 30 June 2015, initially with a click and collect functionality and then full international deliveries set for launch by 1 October 2015.
"The GES summit is the perfect platform to network and for me to build my brand [using] the same formulas that have worked for global businesses that started off on a small scale like mine. I also want to learn how I can attract more Namibians to be able to trust natural products such as Mbiri as the Namibian clientele still trust only international brands such as Nivea."
- Tammy Knott
Tammy is the founder of Mbiri™, a brand that prides itself on using natural Namibian plant ingredients. The core of the brand lies in Namibian Myrrh, which is wild-harvested by the Himba people of northwestern Namibia. The essential oil is extracted from a resin, which Himba women have been using for centuries as an ingredient in their traditional perfume. During the dry seasons the tree, Commiphora wildii, naturally exudes this resin. The women collect the resin in the mountains of this remote and arid region. The women traditionally call the resin Omumbiri, hence the name Mbiri. The harvesting of this resin is sustainable as only naturally exuded resin is collected. The resin is sent to a harvester-owned processing facility where the essential oil is extracted. This essential oil is bought from the facility and is used in all of the Mbiri™ products. Mbiri™ also uses Marula and Kalahari Melon Seed oils, which are harvested in the north central regions of Namibia. These oils are sourced from a women’s co-operative.
Mbiri™ products are approved by Phytotrade Africa, a fair-trade initiative that promotes community enterprises throughout southern Africa, as well as Beauty Without Cruelty and The Vegan Society.
The two entrepreneurs agreed on the challenges their respective businesses are facing. They need training for their staff to enhance their skills to compete in an economy that is rapidly changing. They also need access to capital to expand, and they need to communicate their marketing messages clearly to a prospective clientele. Let's hope they find the necessary support and inspiration needed to advance their businesses during their attendance at the GES in Nairobi in July.