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From Ideas To Structured Businesses, The SWWE Kenya – Bomet Story

“If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘a faster horse!” – Henry Ford

What comes into your mind when you think about empowerment? For Startup Weekend Women’s Edition (SWWE), it’s all about a road trip, 40 young businesses, a conference room, and 40 transformed businesses in 54 hours!

This is the story of SWWE – Bomet Edition. In the culturally rich county of Bomet, over 40 startups were empowered through a three-day vigorous Bootcamp. The participants went out of their idea-stage comfort zone to unlocking new opportunities of scale up and growth in 54 hours.

The pleasant sunset and calm weather in Bomet town set the right mood for individual pitches by the participants in a bid to uncover the brilliant ideas from a diverse audience of women and men, young and old. For a majority of the participants, pitching was a first-time thing. However, they managed to pull it off. Kanyi Ohawa, the CEO of All and Sundry would then unwrap the blessings and curses of being an entrepreneur. Having co-founded a branding company, she singled out her hard-taught lessons to pave way for the budding entrepreneurs.

“During these three days, you will work in groups, collaborate as a team and pitch to a bench of judges.” – Noreen Likimani, Co-Founder SWWE Kenya.

It’s common knowledge that most startups start by bootstrapping and founders end up having a personal and business joint bank account. What happens next? The founders end up not paying themselves because they believe all the money going into the account is theirs. Right? How can you cure this disease? These were the kind of questions the entrepreneurs got answered.

Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘a faster horse!” So, what if you solve a customer pain point and make money while at it? That is what informed the Business Model Canvas class during the weekend. While at this, SWWE broke an African barrier between entrepreneurship and age!

Come to think of a 70-year-old woman in an entrepreneurship class. The beautiful story of Anne who is a self-taught beads artist amazed the coaches and mentors with her ability to grasp concepts, put them into practice and collaborate with a team of millennials. How she managed the intensity of the program? We have no idea!

“During these three days, you will work in groups, collaborate as a team and pitch to a bench of judges.” Noreen kept on reminding the participants. How amazing is it to see a mix of young and old individuals come together as a team? You definitely expect a lot of diversity in ideas and contribution. For two days, this was the setting at SWWE – Bomet. Having gone through an MVP and Idea validation class, the teams went ahead to design business models for their solutions while employing key lessons from the different coaches including a session on revenue models and developing a perfect Go-To Market strategy.

Then came the pitch time and everyone was awed. Imagine working in under 48 hours to deliver a user centered solution, a business model, a marketing strategy and a pitch deck! To say the least, the participants outdid themselves. The outstanding transformation could be clearly seen from the end product. The coaches and mentors’ hard work had really done the magic. Come to think of this, by the end of the Bootcamp, Anne was speaking in fluent English, had a working email, an elaborate distribution channel for her products and a Facebook page for her business. What a turnaround!

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