Tabitha Karanja, CEO of the groundbreaking Kenyan Keroche Breweries empire, has a vision for the empowerment of a new generation of young entrepreneurs in her country. The Keroche Foundation Young Entrepreneurs Mentorship Program is one of the tangible ways she is fulfilling that vision.
In June this year, the second batch of young, ambitious and enthusiastic entrepreneurs graduated at a colourful ceremony held at the prestigious Radisson Blu Hotel in Upper Hill, Nairobi. Five young women entrepreneurs were amongst those being recognized - Caroline Wanjiku, CEO Daproim Africa Limited; Jayne Awino Okoth, CEO Rapunzel Hair Affair & Porsh Hair; Catherine Mahugu, Co-founder of Soko & Founder of WaziData Limited; Judith Chebet Mosobo, CEO of Iris Interiors Limited; and Liz Kitua, CEO of Kidosho Apparel.
Tabitha attended the event together with a host of local dignitaries to celebrate the achievements of these young entrepreneurs as they embark on the next phase of their business building journeys. Tabitha is a powerful role model for Africa’s young aspirant entrepreneurs, having succeeded in building a highly successful business and a portfolio of strong brands in Kenya’s cutthroat beer market, which has turned out to be the waterloo for a number of global alcohol makers. Now she is on a mission to conquer Africa.
Tabitha started the Keroche Foundation in 2014. It was partly to give back to society by giving a helping hand to both upcoming and established entrepreneurs who have the desire to grow and expand their businesses. Through the aptly named ‘Hand-Up Initiative,’ Tabitha shares her powerful experiences and lessons to a select group of young entrepreneurs through an intensive nine-month mentorship and training programme. She is a wonderful role model to these young business builders. Her resilience in the face of enormous odds, her tenacity and sharp business sense have won her numerous accolades, top among them the 2016 Global Inspirational Women Leadership Award presented by the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development (CELD), an organisation that has a special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC). There is also the National Organisation of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL Women) from the United States, which honoured her during the South America-Africa-Middle East-Asia Women Summit (SAMEAWS) in Dubai, UAE - and numerous other awards over the years.
She wants to use the Keroche Foundation as a platform to develop young people to be like her, a successful brewer who started Keroche in 1979 with only Sh200,000 and took it through thick and thin to make it a multibillion-shilling enterprise. This did not come easily. The company fought with competitors, tax authorities, government bias toward multinational investors in beer as well as malicious propaganda aimed at eliminating local entrepreneurs who wanted to build home-grown brands. So, when she told the gathering at the graduation ceremony that success does not come easily, her statement landed with added credibility.
This was the second cohort to go through the rigorous Keroche Foundation Young Entrepreneurs Mentorship programme and from their testimonies, they have succeeded admirably. The mentees view success quite broadly. They don’t just think of success in monetary terms, although they acknowledge that money counts. They are quite happy to have developed extensive social networks, perfected their products and services, and understood the market better. Above all, the Keroche programme has given them the confidence to stand on their own.
For more information on the Keroche Foundation Young Entrepreneurs Mentorship Programme, visit the website www.kerochefoundation.org