Nestled in the vibrant coastal region of Kenya, IOME001 is the brand new innovation centre of the Kenya Red Cross Society funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. Located next to the Mbaraki Girl Primary School, this innovation hub has been designed for the youth and the women of Mombasa and is made out of recycled and refurbished containers donated by the CMA-CGM foundation. IOME001 hosts the Women Social Entrepreneurship Institute, founded by the French Red Cross and the Kenya Red Cross Society. On Tuesday, September 12th, the final pitch competition of the first cohort of women supported by the institute took place.

Faith Mwende, Founder of Sea Ventures pitching her project

Supporting women in the formalisation of their business

Kenya has a deep history with entrepreneurship as the country’s early start to independence led to the growth of its informal sector. Yet, in comparison with Nairobi, the entrepreneurs of the coastal region of Kenya tend to access less support and opportunities. This is even more true for women entrepreneurs who are hindered by cultural and social barriers, often informally working from home.

Launched in January 2023, the Women Social Entrepreneurship Institute is a comprehensive programme that aims to empower and support women in the Coastal region of Kenya through social entrepreneurship. 

Over the past six months, 22 women were given the chance to reinforce their business competencies through a mix of hard skills (book-keeping, accounting, pitch training, investment readiness, business plan, impact measurement) and soft skills (leadership, communication, decision making, etc.). 

Coming from different backgrounds, all women were engaged in the programme through weekly training, individual coaching and peer support. Their activities varied from baking, logistics, upcycling of waste materials, organic farming, selling of outsourced traditional artcraft or even psycho-social support through art and dance. 

“Thanks to the programme, the women learnt how to separate personal and professional finances, which enabled them to save money and invest in the growth of their business.” shared Hélène Delaplace and Angellah Praygod, Programme Coordinators of the Women Social Entrepreneurship Institute.

Smart farming, recycled fish waste & “mkoma” leaves 

On Tuesday, September, 12th, the final pitch competition of the Women Social Entrepreneurship Institute brought together the different stakeholders of the programme as well as the high dignitaries of Mombasa, including Mr. Osman Mohammed, County Executive Committee Members Department of Tourism, Culture & Trade. Over the course of three hours, the 12 pre-selected women got the opportunity to pitch their project in front of a jury composed of the Kenya Red Cross, the French Red Cross, CMA CGM, the Kenya Chamber of Commerce and the Mombasa County Government. 

Samira Mohammed, Founder of Sam Swahili Wear

After a long deliberation, the 3 winners were announced. Generously donated by CMA CGM, the first prize (250 000 Kenyan Shillings) went to Dinah Otieno, Founder of Daipol Farm, a farmer who raises dairy cows, processes and sells milk and also rears chickens, sells eggs, animals poop as fertiliser and grows vegetables. The second prize (150 000 Kenyan Shillings) went to Faith Mwende, Founder of Sea Ventures, a company recycling waste, mixing it up with coconut flakes and transforming it into animal feed pellets and fertiliser for farmers (fish, chickens and pigs) and pet owners from the Coastal Region. The third prize went to Samira Mohammed (100 000 Kenyan Shillings), Founder of Sam Swahili Wear, a brand of African attire and Ankara handbags using recycled “mkoma” leaves scattered in the streets of Mombasa.

Dinah Otieno, Founder of Daipol Farm receiving her Prize

The first cohort of the Women Social Entrepreneurship Institute is coming to an end. It is now time for the Kenya Red Cross Society and the French Red Cross to build the foundations for a second edition, to support more women entrepreneurs of the Coastal Region.

“We are proud of this first cohort and the unique collaboration we put in place with the Kenya Red Cross Society, based on complementarity, reciprocity and trust.” shared Camille Loiseau, International Innovation Officer at the French Red Cross. “We started a promising journey for women entrepreneurs.”