Kenyan Women Shine At The Annual African Women in Europe Awards

It was an evening to remember — red carpet, glamour and high volume entertainment — in London to celebrate achievements of African women in Europe. SHAMLAL PURI documented the event. [SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO OF EVENT]

Award WinnersThe sterling efforts of Kenyan women living in Europe were recognised at a major awards ceremony in central London on June 29.

Some 200 African men and women from the UK and mainland Europe attended the African Women in Europe (Awe) awards ceremony, a biennial event held to acknowledge achievements of the continent’s diaspora. Poppy Majingo, Minister Counsellor at the Botswana High Commission, was the chief guest.

Ghanaian-born Dentaa Amoateng won the coveted African Women in Europe Award for her work with West Africans in the UK.

Seven Kenyan women were recognised for their achievements in various fields.

Hilda Kaunde Hoyer, whose company, Sacdep (Sustainable Agriculture Community Development Programme) Kenya, is involved in supporting Africa economically, won the Company of the Year Award. The 40-year-old is planning to return to Kenya to carry on her work.

Joyce Nganga-Bert won the Most Innovative Entrepreneur Woman Award. Limuru-born Joyce, a mother of three, has been marketing her special duvet covers in the UK and in Kenya.

“Women (and single men, too) often end up confused and frustrated while trying to put their duvets in the covers,” she says. “My solution is to sew buttons on three sides of the cover instead of the traditional style where there are only buttons on one side.”

London-based Janet Wainaina of UKenTV won the Media Woman of the Year Award. The former teacher-turned TV anchor and events promoter is a popular figure in Britain’s Kenyan circles.

Through her media network, Janet connects Kenya with Britain and the rest of the world to promote the Kenyan brand globally.

“Our vision is to have a Kenyan TV station in the UK that will connect the diaspora with Kenya and showcase content from Kenyan producers. We want to tell the Kenyan story differently,” she says.

Wangui Muhuthia of Germany, who runs the Mkenya Ujerumani blog, won the Young Achievers Award.

Lydia Kemunto Cutler of Scotland, who ventured into fashion design after a 16-year career as a high school teacher, bagged the Fashion Designer of the Year Award. She has displayed her designs in Kenya, Australia and the UK.

Her designs have won acclaim at British and international pageants, including Miss Africa Scotland and Miss Intercontinental UK.

Kenyan author Njoki Kamau was named the runner-up of the Writer of the Year Award. The award was won by Switzerland-based Zambian author Priscilla Musonda for her acclaimed works, including Stolen Childhood.

London-based fashion and beauty expert Boikanyo Phenyo of Botswana won the Empowering African Women in Europe Award, and the runner-up was Jane Kiguru.

Jenny Chika Okafor, of Nigerian Women in Diaspora Leadership Forum UK, won the Community Service Organisation of the Year Award.

Started in 2011, Awe, which was founded by Kenyans Joy Wanjiru Zenz nee Machugu and Wambui Njau, has grown to a membership of 700. The women support, encourage and inspire each other while investing both in Europe and Africa in support of the continent’s economic development.

“We have also had support from mainstream organisations and individuals who believe in the importance of African women’s engagement in African economic development,” says Joy.

“We organise ourselves throughout the year to provide a forum through which to network, organise, share experiences and meet. Our main event is the annual conference in various European cities. These meetings culminate in our flagship event, the African Women in Europe Awards, which recognise excellence.”

Awe enables African women to connect with their counterparts in Europe and grow their businesses. In the long run, it aims to improve women’s life in Africa financially.

Joy Zenz was born in Kenyan but lives in Germany. Her aim is to connect African women living in Europe and elsewhere irrespective of their geographical locations.

Joy started her website in 2008 and hundreds of women are networking through it. Recently, she launched a blog talk radio where women can discuss various issues.

Wambui Njau lives in the UK. She works with a Swedish construction company as an IT project co-ordinator. She is also the chief administrator at Awe and co-hosts the radio show with Joy, interviewing women who can inspire and empower others.

– The Standard