It’s hard to deny that the business climate for women is changing. Fifteen Fortune 500 companies are currently run by women, up from twelve last year. Twenty-eight companies have women doing the top job in the Fortune 1000. Yet challenges still exist for women, namely in the international business world. Recently, Mrs. Evelyn Mungai of Nairobi, Kenya, an international business entrepreneur, visited Indianapolis to speak to the National Association of Women Business Owners about these challenges and how to overcome them. She is currently the owner of Evelyn’s School of Design, an internationally-acclaimed business that has been going strong for 33 years.
Some of these questions were posed to Mrs. Mungai by the Indianapolis Women's Business Examiner:
Q: “What do you feel may have been your strongest seed of inspiration to take the leap into global entrepreneurship?”
A: “Other people’s skepticism.”
Q: “What significant barriers did you face when deciding to take your business global?”
A: “Money, men, doubt… take your pick. When I decided to grow my business globally, it was skepticism that continued to confront me. There were a lot of people who didn’t think that a woman in Kenya could – even OWN a business – let alone do business internationally. It didn’t matter, though, because I still did what I knew I could do. I sometimes wonder if I pushed harder just so that I could prove people wrong.”
Q: “What words of encouragement might you share with the women of Indianapolis?”
A: “Seize the opportunity. Don’t let someone else tell you that you can’t do it. If you are passionate about it, and you have done your homework, go after it. Your staff and the people you work with will become your family and together you’ll get the job done.”
Some of this skepticism is rooted in the culture of various countries. Some is simply because traditionally, not many women have been able to successfully take their business global. Whatever the reason, stories like Mrs. Mungai’s, and future success stories can only help to shift the perspective on women in international business.
Check out the whole story in the Indianapolis Women’s Business Examiner!