Interview with Kenya’s ‘SupaMama’ Entrepreneur
Like many women all over the world, after becoming a new mother in Kenya, Christine Khasinah-Odero had a dilemma.
She wanted to to connect with other moms like her and find local businesses that were relevant to her new role in life, under one umbrella. But she could find no such thing.
Born from the desire to meet this need, Christine started Supamamas. She is passionate about bringing women together and providing valuable information and products that they might be interested in through this online hub. Her model is proving successful.
Rooted in Christine’s business philosophy is Gandhi’s challenge to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” She and the other Supamama members not only support women’s empowerment and each other in their individual business endeavors, they also practice paying it forward through mentoring young girls, helping out at children’s hospitals and donating items to those in need.
Christine was gracious to share more of her story and path to success with us:
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
CKO: After becoming a mother, I could not find a one-stop shop with resources that a mum needs locally. For that reason I become an entrepreneur. I set up Supamamas out of my passion to fill this need and wanted to provide local content full of everything a Kenyan mum and baby/child need.
Today, Supamamas is comprised of three things: 1) a website supported by advertisers 2) bi-monthly networking and social events for mums where attendees can connect with experts in various fields, and 3) women who have become Supamamas members by paying an annual fee. We have over 200 members who connect daily online, meet at events and enjoy various discounts.
This online portal provides a space for women in business and also gives companies the opportunity to sponsor and connect with their target market. As a group we give each other social and business support. We also have a self-help group for economic empowerment.
Tell us more about your career path – how did you get to where you are today?
CKO: My background is marketing. I majored in marketing in undergrad and hold an MBA from Liverpool University. My experience at both universities encouraged free-thinking and coming up with solutions in whatever field we chose to be in. I worked in the tourism industry, mainly in marketing positions as well as in customer service. My time in managerial positions helped nurture the leadership and self-management skills that have come in handy running Supamamas. My professional background notwithstanding, I made a choice to have a platform where I can bring women together. I am passionate about women empowerment.
What other things or people have helped you develop professionally along the way?
CKO: I have developed professionally due to the support from my parents, especially my father, and from great former bosses like Andrew Muigai, MD Africa Point. He gave me space for creativity and experimentation. Networking forums have also been a great support from women.
What do you think the keys to success are for other women in your country?
CKO: I think the key is to have passion, to sharpen your skills and strive to be exceptionally good in your chosen field.
“Entrepreneurship is similar to motherhood. It doesn’t come with a manual. You go with your gut feeling, and believe that you are good at what you do.”
Women should also allow themselves to make mistakes, learn and grow. Entrepreneurship, for instance, is so similar to motherhood. It doesn’t come with a manual. You go with your gut feeling, and believe that you are good at what you do.
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done professionally?
CKO: Going into business was one bold move for me. I had been employed for the longest time and used to a steady paycheck. Also, leading 200 women is not easy, but it gives me great satisfaction. We have a great sisterhood and are a support to one another in building our businesses (a number of Supamamas are in business).
What are your current goals?
CKO: My current goal is to grow Supamamas as the most extensive online info hub for moms. I would also like to see Supamamas qualify for a grant and have more events, especially in mentoring other women and implementing social projects. This would include more visits to children’s hospital wards, homes, and running mentorship programs for girls in high school and college.
“I believe women can be a great resource to each other and should strive to celebrate themselves and each other.”
To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see, in this world.” I believe women can be a great resource to each other and should strive to celebrate themselves and each other.