After obtaining her degree in journalism, Ann pursued a career in marketing. But in 2014, she decided to quit her 9 to 5 job to kickstart her own business. With only a laptop in hand, she launched The Writing Agency, a content creation company.
Today, The Writing Agency helps small businesses across Kenya create content for marketing purposes. Website descriptions, newsletters, business cards- multiple services are offered with the goal of helping small and medium enterprises better engage with their customers.
While Ann has now become a successful business owner, even serving as a mentor to starting entrepreneurs, she encountered several hurdles in the beginning. As she moved away from formal employment, her most important challenge was learning how to become a business owner.
"The lack of information around having a business was an issue for me. Setting up a business model, dealing with taxations, registering a business...I had to learn all of that."
This type of problem is not uncommon in Kenya where there is a lack of support for female entrepreneurs. Whether it be the collateral-based system for loans or the expectation that women should be the primary caregivers, female entrepreneurs encounter unique challenges that can limit the growth of their business.
For Ann, remaining a small business is important since it allows her to maximize her impact within her community. However, she recognizes the difficulties other women entrepreneurs face when looking to scale up.
Ann recognizes the unfairness of the system and advocates for change, encouraging banks and institutions to actively engage with women, to understand the disadvantages they face due to the systematic gender inequalities, and to recognize the need for policies to mitigate these issues.
"There is a lack of empathy. We need to understand the African woman and the challenges that are unique to her. There has to be a more holistic approach. We need to ask ourselves: "Who are these women? How are they living?" We need a more human-centered approach.”
But her most important advice is to not undermine your business. "Even if it's small, it's still helping somebody. If you're solving a problem, you're having a significant impact."
Mkono strives to empower entrepreneurs like Ann, a leader within her community and a mentor to other entrepreneurs. With plans to further develop The Writing Agency, and empowering small businesses at the same time, Ann represents a success story for female entrepreneurship. So if you’re looking to venture in business and you need somebody dedicated to support you, make sure to check out The Writing Agency!