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21 February, 2020
CEO Speeches

I have attended many events but this is the first time I’ve been invited to be part of an event focused on celebrating the achievements of women, so this is a special one for me. Congrats to the Top 40 under 40 women.

Over the last 11 years, Business Daily has worked to promote the idea that “recognizing and making effort and excellence visible is a great tool for inspiration.” BD has spotlighted women who are doing an amazing job in many fields - corporate leadership, entrepreneurship, law, finance, medicine, academics, research, technology, sports, philanthropy, media, and so on.

It is great that Caroline Mutoko has taken the idea further by holding a special recognition event to celebrate the Top 40 under 40 women. Great job BD, great job Caroline and congratulations to the 40 amazing women being recognized today.

However, as much as this is a celebration, I hope you will see it as a call to duty; as the bible says, “many are called, but only a few are chosen.”

We have a country with immense potential. I once visited the Ambassador of Qatar and I recall him saying, “You guys live in heaven. You can walk into the market and buy fresh mangoes, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables”. You can extend this thinking to a lot of things about our country. To start with, we are the global capital for mobile money. There is no better demonstration of mobile money than M-Pesa, which is a Kenyan brand. On top of that, we are the global capital for the best marathoners the world has ever seen. We are also blessed with some of the best wildlife in the world; the Maasai Mara remains the world global capital for wildlife tourism. We also have enviable all-year tropical weather and pristine beaches. Obama’s roots tracing back to Kenya even improve the global brand and position. Most importantly, Kenyans have a very entrepreneurial spirit and high levels of numeracy and literacy. In short, we have immense potential as a country; if we can only exploit it. There is no reason for the poverty we see all around; the bad roads with pot holes, the poor public healthcare – making us all seek private care yet we pay taxes; poor public education – making us seek private education yet we pay taxes; and high levels of insecurity, forcing everyone to employ private security. While we have come a long way, many things remain broken and we have to fix them.

Of course, the task of fixing our country to be better – to be a happier, more prosperous place to live, grow and raise families – is one that belongs to all Kenyans. That is the essence of citizenship: everyone doing what they can to make Kenya a better place for ourselves and the next generation. All Kenyans are called to the task of nation building, however, only a few are chosen for this noble task – not through elections, appointments or lobbying, but through their works, efforts and determination. The Top 40 under 40 is probably one of the most chosen badges a Kenyan could wear.

For this reason, I hope you see this not as a celebration, but a reminder that you are chosen and therefore have no choice but to step up to the task of being an example to others, especially by inspiring younger women to excellence by being the best at what you do. Step up by challenging the systemic issues that continually hold us back – corruption, ethnicity and mediocrity – so that we can make our country a much better place and realize our God given potential in whatever we do.

Once again, congrats on being chosen. I hope you return the favor by continuing to blaze trails in your respective careers and entrepreneurial journeys. Let’s make our country a much better place to live in.