African Women in Europe 2018

 

Two African Women in Europe, Josephine Karianjahi and AWE Co-Founder Joy Zenz
Two African Women in Europe, the author and AWE Co-Founder Joy Zenz

A decade ago, Joy Zenz and her co-founder Wambui Njau had a vision to bring together African women from across Europe in friendship, and to build community away from home. Today, African Women in Europe (AWE) have a square of the internet that is purely dedicated to their lives and their shared sisterhood.

On the last Saturday of June in Amsterdam a summit and celebration gala brought many of these women (and a few men) together to mark 10 years of AWE. Every attendee was greeted with a warm hug and a welcome to the workshop. Despite being total strangers, it felt like walking into a family reunion. There were a lot of breaks, and delicious food and snacks between to season the numerous chats and rich affirmation.

African Women in Europe
African Women in Europe 10th Anniversary Summit

Maggie Mulwa started us off with a talk on Discovering Your Talent, Gift and Strength.  She cuts a figure of a woman who knows her why, and it encouraged us to think beyond one’s training, or experience for talents and skills which help us create daily, and which can help one generate an income. She celebrated all those who work in fields where one needs not only talent, but a calling – like teachers and nurses, recognising that the things that lie in each of us are great.

Over the first tea break, I met women from Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe and we bonded over our shared Ankara outfits. No doubt we were ready to meet one another in amazing bespoke outfits. We laughed together like old friends and shared a light moment trying to get the very fancy and efficient coffee machine to work. Did I mention fresh cinnamon sticks for those like me who love herbal teas? 

Steve Odhiambo, an e-health startup founder entrepreneur who has created the African Investor Master Class led a capital-centred session. He asked us to focus on capital endeavors here, including for-profit entities such as cooperatives or small businesses as applicable. He wants to see more Africans investing in Europe while we are here, even as we invest in our home countries, and ventures in those areas. Statistically, right now in Germany 50% of new businesses are started by people with a Migrationshintergrund (migration background) , yet only 2% are started by Africans – even though those started by Africans invested among the highest amount of startup capital in their ventures.

Beside Steve was his wife, Mercy Odhiambo, founder of Nafrobox.de, a beauty and lifestyle product subscription box product lovers. I got to talking to her about the product box, and for those who have been searching for products that are good for you, and to feed your product habit, this is it.

Laura Tinzoh, a Köln based author and motivational speaker took the podium with a stirring presentation on how to soar higher. Trained as a food scientist, Laura brings much precision to exposing the elements of a life well lived.

Laura Tinzoh, Motivational Speaker and Panelist African Women in Europe
Laura Tinzoh, Motivational Speaker and Panelist

Based on her life experiences in Germany and in her home country, she wove a beautiful narrative of the things we need to love in order to soar higher. Her presentation was creatively put together by one of her sons, and it was a terrific example of talent right at home. Do you collaborate with the young adults in your life to learn from them? Laura did! As for the elements of love – Ourselves, positivity, standing out(because of your talent), challenges and forgiveness were the top five. Her September 2018 Women Empowerment Summit is in Köln.

Over lunch, I got to hear one of the co-founders, Wambui Njau share about her experiences with AWE to date. Wambui Njau Co-Founder AWE

Two African Women in Europe, Josephine Karianjahi and AWE Co-Founder Wambui Njau
The author with AWE Co-Founder Wambui Njau

After lunch, we moved into a young adult section which was led by Malkia Jeri Designs founder Njeri who shared her career journey with us. She moved to Europe with her family, and although she knew she has an entrepreneurial and creative fashion side, she has also worked on building her fashion to include both African and Western designs. She stressed the importance of keeping close with her mentors, and also making sure that we always incorporate the elements of style within our day to day fashion. We also had a fun Gele/Headtie tying contest!

Youth motivational speaker Victoria Nkatha spoke at length about youth and depression. While this topic seems to be more common among pop culture, she shared the experience that she has as a young woman who came out of her teen years while living here in Europe with her family. She talked about the struggle to maintain identity and the ways that one can try and be understood. For the parents reading this, I saw her takeaway as a call to keep asking after ones children on a daily and continuous basis.

African Women in Europe Attendees
African Women in Europe Attendees

On matters legal, Jennifer Obaseki aims to increase the number of black judges in Europe. As a solicitor and owner of her own law firm, she wants more people across Europe to take advantage of work experiences at different firms. Her office welcomes enquiries about students who can take up work experiences. She also encouraged us to adopt business strategies in our work, in particular knowing the plan, the budget and the value proposition of all our ventures. She let us in on her start as a law firm owner with 3,000 Pounds and a bank overdraft, to its growth to the point of employing lawyers and other staff. A ‘Mom on the Run’ she reminded us to learn about how to get clients on the internet, and to learn how automation can make the difference between new business and our current way of seeking out new clients with old techniques. You can find her at Legalpaal and engage her firm Obaseki Solicitors.

African Women in Europe Book

AWE has written a volume of African Women in Europe containing autobiographical snapshots of a sample of the members. You can buy the book from the organization here

As such, it was not a stretch of the imagination to walk through a ‘Write Your Own Book’ session with author Cecelia Mwaniki on reading and writing our own books. For those of us who are always on our phones or watching TV and catching up on the Netflix queue, you can relate to not being able to read paper and other physical books the way we consume digital content. She called to mind the great writers of the past and the fact that their work survives them. I was happy to get a few tips on how to read offline – in a no-distraction room, taking occasional notes, and even make sure that this is a physical print of the book.

Finally, we had a session on financial freedom with Mema Ngunga. Thinking about money really should not be an exercise in frustration or anxiety. She offered some concrete tips on how to apportion money – 50% needs, 20% savings and investment, 30% leisure. She had some solid tips for how to start creating financial freedom, having a passive income in your lie. You can learn more about her and book some personal finance review time using Facebook: African Professionals in Germany 

Throughout the workshop, you would just be able to turn and meet new people. I met a home health entrepreneur, a humanitarian worker on home leave, a children’s author, registered nurses and teachers, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, clergy members and many other new friends. Afterwards, there was an evening program which I could not unfortunately attend. I left recharged and excited to connect and take home all the lessons, joy and sisterhood in that workshop. I even learned how to tie my hair differently. If this post has made you plan to attend 2019 AWE – get in touch with them and book as soon as registration opens up.

Thanks to Mkenya Ujerumani, the leading site for Kenyans living in Germany.

Have you interacted with African women in Europe who inspire you? Please share your experience in the comments section.

New to this blog? Get to know me a little better and read some posts that may be your next opportunity (Click to learn more!)

xo

Josephine

 

 

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Starting to Fight Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs)

As an urban public health professional, I have been thinking and writing about non-communicable diseases for the better part of the last 10 years. If you have just started your own journey to learning about NCDs, here is a simple guide on how to get involved.

  1. If starting your own campaign seems larger than life, you can join existing initiatives. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a great guide on existing initiatives you can join.
    1. BreatheLife – combating air pollution
    2. Decade of Action on Road Safety – This campaign hopes to save millions of lives between 2011 and 2020
    3. Global Hearts Initiative – to fight cardiovascular disease
    4. WHO Global Days 
      1. World TB Day, 24 March
      2. World Health Day, 7 April
      3. World Malaria Day, 25 April
      4. World Immunization Week, 24-30 April
      5. World No Tobacco Day, 31 May
      6. World Blood Donor Day, 14 June
      7. World Hepatitis Day, 28 July
      8. World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 13-19 November
      9. World AIDS Day, 1 December
    5. Inspire: WHO’s seven strategies for ending violence against children

What else are you doing to get started? Are you looking for some  inspiration? Check out my new podcast This I Can Do (Soundcloud)  for stories that will show you what to do and make you get going.

 

 

Bra Hugh

 

Bra Hugh has rested, and we are only fortunate because he gave us the gift of his timeless music, social activism, leadership and heart.

pexels-photo-164813.jpeg

International Scholarships for Kenyans

Here is a 2017 list of opportunities that got me sharing and retweeting. Just for you, I read through them, so you do not have to – and tailored them for Kenyans. All the best!

  1. Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Kenya – The Government of Kenya regularly updates this list of scholarships directed from various countries for Kenyan citizens. This list is deep, so, definitely worth a try.
  2. Fulbright for Foreign Students (non-US citizens) : These are administered through the country Fulbright Commissions or U.S. Embassies (portal link) For example, if you are from Kenya, you are redirected to the Kenya site, with more information, and an actual email address to a real person. In this case, the Musician and Orchestra Conductor, Mr Ken Wakia, a past Fulbright recipient is the Chairman of the Kenya Fulbright Scholars Association, and is the main contact (email him)
  3. If you are interested in studying in the USA, go to:
    1. EducationUSA : This site offers a wealth of information about scholarships, English language learning, cultural exchanges, and other options available from the US.
    2. EducationUSA Kenya Advisory Services: They offer advice through general sessions held regularly in Nairobi. I attended the general session when I was applying, and later sought further advice through tailored paid sessions back in 2004/5. Now, students have many more options, including #3 below.
    3. For high achieving students (B+ and above in the KCSE) with a desire to study in the USA, they do offer a number of limited slots to assist students with the cost and process of application to the US  through the EducationUSA Scholars program. know at least one young woman who contacted them through the EducationUSA Kenya FB Page, and won one of these spots, and is now studying in the USA.
  4. Austria: Undergraduates, Graduates, Postgraduates and PhD students who are citizens of any country apart from Austria can apply for the Scholarship of the Scholarship Foundation of the Republic of Austria for Undergraduates, Graduates and Postgraduates which is a grant for research promotion, or search the Austrian scholarships database for specific courses of study at Scholarships.at. You can click through and find more information in English too.
  5. Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship: Nationals of  Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar and Mozambique are eligible to apply (and a few others if you are currently resident in France, Portugal, Canada, USA and UK) for postgraduate studies. You must also be interested in development-related studies and have no other means of financing your education.  In case you do not get this one, the AKF shares a longer list of other sources of scholarships to which you can apply too.
  6. Chevening Scholarship for the UK: Chevening is the UK Government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders. Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations, Chevening offers two types of award – Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships – the recipients of which are personally selected by British embassies and high commissions throughout the world. Applications for Chevening Scholarships and some Chevening Fellowships open between 7 August and 7 November 2017. Kenya applicants check this page
  7. Endeavour Scholarship Awards in Australia: The Australia Awards–Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships are the Australian Government’s competitive, merit-based scholarships and fellowships providing opportunities for Australians to undertake study, research or professional development overseas and for overseas citizens to do the same in Australia. But before you apply, check out what other international students have to say about their experiences
  8. Swedish Institute Scholarship Study Scholarships: Scholarships cover both living costs and tuition fees. An estimated 335 scholarships will be available for master’s level studies in Sweden starting in the autumn semester 2017. Kenya is eligible, among other countries. Of importance, is that you need to check their criteria, plus demonstrate you are SI scholarship ready, including 3,000 hours of relevant work, internship or other trustworthy responsibility.
  9. Scholarships to study in Flanders, Belgium are open to African, Asian and Latin American applicants from 31 countries 
  10. NZAID Scholarships in New Zealand: The NZ Government funds several key scholarships for students in the Pacific. However, for Kenyan applicants, the New Zealand Development Scholarship is likely to be your targeted application if you are looking to do a Postgraduate Certificate (6 months), Postgraduate Diploma (1 year), Master’s Degree (1 – 2 years) or your PhD (3 – 4 years) and the New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarship for Master’s Degree (1 – 2 years) + PhD (up to 3.5 years)
  11. Germany DAAD – Graduates with 2 years of work experience can apply for the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst / German Academic Exchange Service scholarships. Read more about them