Are you a woman entrepreneur in Kenya? Go get a sponsor

Someone had to stand up and salvage the meaning of the word ‘sponsor’ in Kenya. We understand it as exchange of sexual favors in return for monies. No, that is prostitution. Forget how it is defined. What you should know is a concept gaining increasing importance in entrepreneurship; more so, for women entrepreneurs.

Typically, when women entrepreneurs require help with their hard and soft skills they are directed to mentors. Mentors offer hands-off advice and are important in many other respects. But there is a glass ceiling to how high a mentor can take you in the world of entrepreneurship. This is why women are invested in the idea of sponsorship.

Sponsors help women close the gap, on men, when it comes to the support structures that determine entrepreneurial success or failure. Who is a sponsor? I couldn’t define it the first time and I probably can’t do it a second time either but I’ll have a go.

A sponsor is an ally to your business. He or she is putting their reputation on the line in sharing responsibility for your success or failure. That definition doesn’t satisfy you? Stop being high maintenance. A sponsor is the person that gets you Government tenders.

They escalate mentorship by opening doors for you, instead of simply giving you advice. Much the same way we do with the opportunities we share with you. Since they are powerful or influential individuals, they can help you raise capital, acquire new clients and expand to new frontiers. By helping you they are including you in their networks. This is arguably better than mentorship, which can deteriorate into a form of pity party.

How do you get a sponsor in Kenya? Everyone knows that you do it by dressing right and hanging out in the right bars. Seriously though, there is no formula to getting one. But there are guides to increase your chances and even if you miss out you will be improved as an entrepreneur.

Always be in the right place, at the right time every time. This how you will build valuable networks that could lead to the patronage you seek. If you are not the type that likes hanging out with people (and will be alone on Valentine’s Day, sorry) you always have your good performance to help you stand out. Inevitably, someone will be attracted to you (maybe, next February).

Are you convinced about having a sponsor? Or do you prefer sticking to a mentor? Let us know what is in your mind in the comments section below.