Sports is not only underrated in Kenya, as an avenue for economic and social gain, but also women are sidelined from its administration. We feature, one woman, Mariam Mpaata who is doing wonderful work with her Junior Stars Youth Development Programme.
1.Who is Mariam Mpaata?
2.Tell us about your business
I run social projects that use football and mentorship as a tool to bring youth and women together. I am the founder and CEO of Junior Stars Youth Development Programme which is based in Mombasa, Kenya but has outlet in Iganga Uganda. The organisation has been running for ten years now and has interacted with over 60,000 youth and women.
We run football projects like Watoto Africa Soccer Awards, Junior Stars Football Academy and Soccer Divas Club. Football is continuously being recognized as a powerful tool that can bring people together to achieve common goals. Apart from nurturing football skills we have the rare opportunity to preach messages that lead us to contributing to sustainable development goals in our communities.
3.How did you raise funds to start?
My husband gave me 60,000 Kshs to buy footballs, and other football related equipment.
4.What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I used to think personal achievements like winning awards were my biggest achievements. I now know that that seeing other people achieve their dreams or goals because of my support rank as the most proud moments in my life.
5.What do you now know that you wished you knew before you started?
Pursue your dreams while you are younger. I have this burning desire to write and now that I am in my position, my responsibilities hold me back. One day I want to be able to let go and just write. If you are young and discover your passion, begin to do something about it. Do not take too long. Time does not wait.
6.Parting shot for the young Kenyan women reading this
It is always easier to quit than to pursue your goals or dreams through its darkest moments. Business success cannot be without tears, debts, haters, mistakes and all those uncomfortable moments. How do I keep going? I have two key principles. I realised that the only competition I have is myself and so I work on improving myself everyday. It is a waste of time to focus on others.
Secondly I strongly believe that networks and friendships must be mutual or they die. Find those networks and friends that bring value to your growth, then identify that which you can give back to them. In that way, you grow each other. No woman is an island, especially a woman doing business.4