Women Taking Over Family Businesses

Tabitha Karanja, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Keroche Breweries.

I like reading all kinds of interesting articles; I came across one where an entrepreneurship blogger had interviewed Stephanie McMahon.  This lady is the Chief Brand Officer of the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE); she is also expected to succeed her father Vince McMahon as Chief Executive Officer of WWE. I have to admit I admired her from afar; it isn’t everyday you hear a woman being involved in a male dominated industry which is a family business.

It is quite fascinating how times have changed whereby it doesn’t always have to be Kiruthu and Sons but rather Kiruthu and Daughters as a company name. How can women take up roles that men have traditionally filled?  Here are some pointers to be considered:

  • The need for their leadership to be legitimised: A lot of families where a male is considered more important can block the views of the women in the family as they feel they have no place to offer their opinions.
  • The preparation for all the children to enter the family business: The traditional assumption is that the eldest son or the sons will be active in the company. It does not account for various scenarios where the sons may not have the interest or the talent to run the business. One example is the Kamau family who has four daughters and one son. It was assumed the son would be able to run their farm which had been active for two generations. The farm had to be sold within two years as he was unable to sustain what his father had managed to achieve. Luckily for him, he sold it to his sisters who had been active long before he had come to run the farm and they were able to turn the business around.
  • Skills women are better suited for than men: it is quite clear that both women and men come with positive attributes that can be beneficial to the company. One example is that women are considered better investors and even credit facilitators prefer to lend to them due to their cautious nature. Involving all members of the family in the business enables the company to use all the human assets effectively.
  • The company needs to stop being an extension of the founder and be owned by all in the family: it is easy for the founder to cling to making the main decisions without involving the employees, who could be members of the family, while taking decisions on day-to-day operations. This doesn’t able any potential successor to learn how to run the business and can cause frictions in the long run.

The issues of gender can be considered sensitive as dynamics such as being an in law or being married can cause a political stalemate. This is the reason why families are encouraged to join business forums that can educate them in aligning company objectives which can ensure that the presence of women in the family business is accepted and acknowledged.

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Nyakio Kiruthu

 

Nyakio Kiruthu left the world of banking after 4years to venture into the world of business. She is a shareholder of Thayu Farm hotel, a family business. She holds a degree in Economics and Masters in International Business which enables her to explore the world of business through a unique perspective.

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