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Friday, 7 November 2014

Christine Khasinah-Odero On Finding Inspiration For Her Entrepreneurial Journey

Meet Kenya's Christine Khasinah-Odero, the female entrepreneur who has found a profitable niche in Kenya’s widely overlooked mother and baby market. She is the founder of Supamamas, an events and marketing company that organises mother and baby events usually attended by over 200 professional mothers. During her first pregnancy she discovered the lack of information sources. Read excerpts of her interview with howwemadeitinafrica below:

Christine, you are the founder of Supamamas in Kenya, tell us a little about the very early stages of the business and what motivated you to start it.
The inspiration came when I was expecting a baby in 2010 while trying to start a business of my own. There was no-one to turn to. No support system or source for advice or inspiration. It was a lonely position to be in, and this is when I figured out many professional and entrepreneurial mothers in Kenya must feel the same way. 

This is how the idea of Supamamas was born. I wanted to create a platform that would connect mums through regular events with experts as well as baby brands. I finally started the company in 2011. Today, our events are held every month and vary in themes. These include baby nutrition, skin, sleep and safety, pampering events, financial planning events, networking, mentorship, fun days and so much more.

What was the most difficult part during the start-up phase? Which challenges did you encounter – maybe completely unexpected?The early stages of starting Supamamas were not easy at all. It seemed difficult to get the word out and get mothers, partners, and sponsors to participate. My first two events were not successful. Hardly any mothers participated, so the exhibitors that I had invited were giving me a hard time. I remember how rains poured down during the second event almost crashing the exhibition tents.

It was a disaster. Huge doubts kicked in, and I was about to give up. I had quit my job and things were falling apart. It took me a while to reflect into what direction I wanted the business to go, and this new-found clarity kept me going. My third event was attended by 30-40 women. This is when I became optimistic again.

Do you dream big?Yes absolutely! I have a vision board hanging at home and my husband sometimes smiles when he looks at it and sees what new image I have put on it as a new goal to achieve. I am a firm believer of active visualisation – seeing the big picture and putting a plan in place to achieve one thing at a time. It is what I did with Supamamas from the beginning, even when things were getting hard. I could still see the possibility and the impact it would have on women and mothers and this is why I continued. Today, I believe I can grow my company and Supamama’s network far beyond Kenya. As author Napoleon Hill said: “What the mind can see and believe, it can achieve.” I think this is totally true.

What is your sisterly advice to the growing number of emerging female entrepreneurs in Africa? Many may feel overwhelmed by the sheer thought of combining the demands of starting and managing a business with the demands of family and children.My sisterly advice to female entrepreneurs is that we have the ability to be many things. But it starts with an unshaken belief in what we can and want to achieve. That voice often gets buried under the many demands we ourselves, family, and society throw at us. But we owe it to ourselves to live our purpose and do what we enjoy doing and live our dreams. 

Most women struggle with balance, and every person’s situation is different. What is important is finding a rhythm that works for you and being true to yourself. It’s the same value that we then pass on to our children and those around us in society. That it’s possible to achieve what we put our minds and hearts to.

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