One of the most recognized businessman in Africa, Chris Kirubi, was recently interviewed by Drum Magazine on his views on women empowerment.
This is how it went.
DRUM: You work with a number of talented women. One could say you believe in women’s empowerment. How has the experience been for you as an employer and what would you say have been some of the challenges?
C.K: Women are basically half of the population. You ignore them and you are incapacitating half of the population. They are as good as men and sometimes even better at certain jobs. They are very committed. The only challenge is when they need to take four months off to have babies. I do not begrudge women that, but I find myself in the peculiar position of replacing her temporarily with someone who then comes in and does such a great job I am reluctant to let them go afterward and I have often ended up employing two people for one job. It can be very costly and frustrating.
We need to find a middle ground. I am not sure what that is yet though and I am still working on it. I also think that the Kibaki administration has done a lot for women in this country. We are on the right track. I do not believe that there is such a thing as a glass ceiling for women. Just like the youth, they must wake up and fight for what it is that they want.
DRUM: What would you say is your greatest success and would you say that you have arrived?
C.K: Coming from my very poor background to getting to where I am now. I have created job opportunities and I employ many people and mentor others. I have a number of young people I have mentored who say they do not want to work with and for anyone else unless it is Chris Kirubi and I think I have achieved my vision of being successful.
Kirubi has his fingers in Haco Tiger Brands, Oriflame, Centum Investment among others. He was once named by Forbes magazine as the second richest person in Kenya and among the top 40 richest people in Africa.