It is one thing to be an entrepreneur, it is a whole new ball game when it comes to being a female entrepreneur. Undoubtedly, the road to becoming a successful female entrepreneur is laced with unimaginable challenges, especially in a world where patriarchy is the order of the day. Nevertheless, women are rising above these challenges and making impact in their world. One of such women is Jamila Abass.
Jamila Abass is the CEO and co-founder of M-Farm, a mobile platform that encourages commercial farming carried out by small scale farmers. M-Farm uses cellphone technology to connect farmers to each other and to markets, helping to ensure that farmers can sell what they grow. In 2015, When US President, Barak Obama spoke in Nairobi, he recognized two Kenyan female entrepreneurs who brightened his hope, and referred to these women as “powerhouse entrepreneurs”. Jamila Abass happened to be one of these women. Indeed, it is evident that even president Barak Obama concur with Kimberly Crenshaw’s words that says: “the empowerment of black women constitutes the empowerment of our entire community.
As a child, Jamila recounts that she immensely yearned to be a boy. This emanated from growing up in a patriarchal society in Kenya, where the male child is given preference over the female child. In retrospect, she realized all she wanted was equal access to education as the male child and she did not want to be handicapped by societal gender roles assigned to her. Nonetheless, she was able to attend school and she finally graduated from the University with a degree in Computer Science.
After school, Jamila was inspired to make a difference in her community through her timely invention. She collaborated with two other young women to create something that can help the average Kenyan. The resultant of this is M-Farm. The mobile platform so far, has served 14,000 farmers and has doubled their income. As far as Jamila is concerned, today is the best day become a female entrepreneur. She believes that patriarchal trends are fast changing and people’s beliefs, as well as their actions are changing as the advantages of equal opportunity for women are becoming more evident. Jamila opined that: “Women are powerhouse entrepreneurs, and to realize that power we need allies that will help to overcome the inertia of vested interests.”
Assuredly, the success of women entrepreneurs depends not only on creativity, knowledge, and commitment, but also on an alignment of allies across government and business that progressively removes the structural obstacles to equality and sustainable development, and replaces them with new systems that take the best from the old. This, according to Jamila Abass, is the innovation we need.