Top five Kenyan women who run corporate world
In the 21st century, the world, especially Africa, has been talking about “firsts” for women, be it first woman Presidents, first women ministers, first women CEOs for corporates and so on.
Amidst the celebration of firsts, women have come out strong, occupying positions that traditionally were thought to be a preserve for men, in what could be termed as breaking the barriers.
In the fight for gender equity across the world, Kenya has emerged as a shining star with several women occupying seats of power both in government and the corporate world.
Below are some of the Kenyan women who have set the pace for women empowerment, opening a world of possibilities for the female gender in the corporate world, even as the world celebrates International Women’s Day in 2022.
Kendi Ntwiga - Microsoft Country Manager
A mention of Microsoft automatically switches people’s minds to the world of software, which has for decades been dominated by the male gender. But for Microsoft, a world’s leader in software development, their business venture in Kenya is led by a woman, Ms Kendi Ntwiga. She will be leaving the position in April 2022, according to her LinkedIn posts.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Kendi served as the General Manager of the East, West and Central Africa Cluster for Check Point Software. She also served at an executive level at Oracle, HP and Intel, where she was tasked with leading and implementing business strategies across sub-Saharan Africa.
Kendi is also the founder of She-Goes-Tech, an initiative created with the purpose of mentoring young girls and women who are pursuing STEM careers.
Phylis Wakiaga - CEO, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM)
A lawyer by profession, Ms Wakiaga heads the umbrella body for Kenyan manufacturers, which brings on board a majority of industrialists and business leaders.
She started off her career as a customer relations executive at Kenya Airways in 2007, before being appointed coordinator of government and industry affairs three years later at the carrier.
She left the national carrier as the manager of the Government and Industry Affairs Division in 2013 and joined KAM as the head of policy in charge of research and advocacy.
In 2015, she was appointed as chief executive officer at KAM.
Tabitha Karanja - Keroche Breweries CEO and co-founder
In the recent days, she has hit the headlines after her company, Keroche Breweries Limited was shut down by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over a Ksh322 million tax dispute.
Despite her troubles, Mrs Karanja has steered the brewer to a multi-billion company in the recent years.
Very few people associate the company with co-founder and Mrs Karanja’s husband, Joseph Karanja. Mrs Karanja has been the face of the company, in good and bad times.
She will be vying for Nakuru Senatorial seat in the August 9 polls.
Rebecca Mbithi - Chief Executive Officer, Family Bank
Ms Mbithi previously served as the Company Secretary and Director, Legal Services at Family Bank for four years before being appointed the CEO in 2019.
A lawyer by training, Mbithi previously worked at Kenya Tea Development Agencies (KTDA) and Rift Valley Railways.
She holds a Masters in Business Administration (Strategic Management) from United States International University and an LL.B degree from the University of Nairobi. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), a Certified Secretary and a Member of the Institute of Certified Secretaries, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and a member of the Law Society of Kenya.
Rita Kavashe - Managing Director of Isuzu East Africa Limited
Kavashe, originally trained as a teacher at Moi University (bachelor’s degree in Education) has beaten the odds to become the Managing Director of the largest motor vehicle assembler in East Africa.
She holds other positions such as a non-executive director of the British American Tobacco Kenya, the chair of the Kenya Roads Board (KRB), a Non-Executive Director of Bamburi Cement Limited (LaFarge Group), Vice-Chair of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), and serves as a member of the Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Board.
She joined Isuzu East Africa in 1995 where she served as a sales executive before climbing the corporate ladder to become the Managing Director for Isuzu.