This Money Is For You!
That is the message Charity Kabango brings to entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises particularly women entrepreneurs in Rwanda and many other places in Africa. Charity Kabango works at assisting people especially women entrepreneurs in accessing finance and intelligent capital to fund growth and development for their enterprizes. These businesses often feel they are not listened to.
“If a bank wants to start addressing this challenge of saying ‘women are not accessing finance in the same way that men do, then the bank needs to start to shift, the bank needs to think, to make sure it responds and reflects the demographic it is trying to serve. It is about seeing yourself in the doorway, it is having somebody speak your language and understand your lifestyle,” Charity tells the podcast.
…the bank needs to start to shift, the bank needs to think, to make sure it responds and reflects the demographic it is trying to serve…
“We run a programme called ‘Finance Engage’ for several years in Cote d’Ivoire. Part of it is about presenting to the banks the needs of the small businesses in their country. We collect data on the challenges and the needs of small and medium sized businesses. We go back and tell them you have a mandate to finance small business and here is what we are hearing. Now based on that we ask- what can you actually commit to. It signals to small businesses that they have been heard.”
“One of the challenges we have is that women often self eliminate and don’t apply for funds or programmes even when they are targeted so we need to make sure that they know this money is for you. ”
…Women often self eliminate and don’t apply for funds or programmes even when they are targeted for them…
Connecting and Mentoring Entrepreneurs in Africa
Charity Kabango says entrepreneurs are a catalyst for communities and ultimately their countries and that’s why she is on a mission to enable businesses to grow in Africa.
Charity Kabango began her career as an engineer designing cars for GM. Now she leads Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners and they work with early stage start-ups to work on their core values, marketing plans and scaling up. “They need government and banks and other stakeholders to be aligned,” Charity says. That is where they work to help these early stage businesses in areas like tourism.
“Rwanda has been a case study in women’s leadership” she says. “Parliament has the largest number of women in cabinet in the world and you see that happens in business too. It is not uncommon to have a CEO leading a large bank or corporation women and actually young women. It is pretty phenomenal to see what can happen when you allow women into the ranks of leadership. It is not a country without its challenges around gender by any means.”
This idea of having a large number of women in leadership roles is not one they are really struggling with. It’s actually benefiting from having the voice and strength of women across different sectors, Charity says.
“In Rwanda 64% percent representation of women in government parliament which is outstanding and it is without a quota for women, it is just a natural outpouring who they feel is the natural for leadership.”
“Consistently across the continent, access to finance is the largest constraints businesses face as a challenge to grow their business” Charity tells the podcast. “One of the things we try to do is to offer intelligent capital, technical assistances for business with some form of access to capital, and that can be done through partnerships with banks, often a partner facilitating a grant programme. The reality is that on the continent we don’t have the range of access to financial instruments that you find in many other places,” she says and that “there’s little or no venture capital, so most of the time they are being finance through debt and very high interest debt which is certainly a constraint when businesses are starting to grow. “
Targeted technical supports are needed. Constraints include access to mentors and coaches. It is really hard to move towards, to go on an uncharted course. “When you are able to see someone you admire who looks like you who has a similar background to you as a CEO of a bank as a woman you naturally going to see that as an opportunity that you have the ability to access.”
Charity says “We work with them in hospitality and if a young woman doesn’t think she can run her own tourism and hospitality business because she has never seen anyone who looks like her from her village who has been able to run their own business it is very hard to do. So some of the work is around mindset and opportunities to see mentors that creates a lot impact. “
Pearls Of Wisdom
Define success for yourself have the courage to not do what everyone else things as successful.
Be Okay with your decision. Charity took a decision to say to herself she was okay with her course of action.
Have the Freedom to not have all the answers. She did not have a ten year plan, she didn’t feel the need to have a ten year plan. You don’t have to have it all figured out. Move towards the things that give you excitement and passion.
The biggest professional decision you make is to choose the right life partner. Someone who is in your corner when you come home. Entrepreneurial life has ups and downs. Her husband took the lion’s share of childcare parental leave initially.
Learn to pause and celebrate your success.
Money Advice and Beliefs
Pay your future self first. Don’t let today’s self rob tomorrows. It is really easy to think something is important today but if it is robbing your future self think twice. If it’s going to make your life worse tomorrow rethink.
Sustainability What Charity Kabango is doing
“I live in a walkable neighbourhood and drive as little as possible.We are all making this continuous improvement.”
You start with a mindset she says. Charity has three children so she thinks about the world they inherit. They will have less access to natural resources than we had, she believes. The shift in mindset means using less plastic and really thinking about purchases you make and reducing consumption.
Go To Song
“This house loves music. It curbs a tantrum with the kids and it gets us all up and out when we need to go on an errand.”
A gift from husband for her 40th Birthday was that he put together a playlist with people from her life, from family and friends from the 4 corners of the world they all picked a song that reminded them of her. She can find 50 of her favourite songs on her playlist.
Her favourite is Kanye Revelations 19.1 from his gospel album. That is her morning pick me up song.
Faith is important to her. She’s a pastor’s kid faith is important to her family structure where she derives her ambition and direction and grounding.