I’d like to congratulate "http://www.heartlandinternational.org" Heartland International, a non-profit organization in Chicago for its successful efforts in developing a training program designed to bring young Kenyan entrepreneurs (ages 25-35) to the United States. The training program offers preparation for learning entrepreneurial skills that can be utilized in their communities in Kenya. Heartland International paired these individuals with small businesses within the Chicagoland area that matched their own businesses in Kenya. I had the opportunity and pleasure of hosting a business intern from this group.
My assigned intern, Ms. Justine Ayieye, owns her own cleaning business in Kenya. She spent several days with my staff and gained valuable experience in practical and everyday business situations. Ms. Ayieye’s responsibilities included taking on marketing tasks (passing out flyers in designated areas) and operational tasks (scheduling customers and crew members). Having Ms. Ayieye around provided my staff and I a first hand look into her own business and the challenges she faces. She recognized several differences; such as, the equipment that they use and in the time it takes a crew to clean a home. My team also found the distinction in business practices to be enlightening. For example, I couldn’t take the shocked look off the faces of my team when they found out how low the pay per cleaning is in Kenya.
I would also like to send a special thank you to the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) for their invitation to be a panel speaker at the beginning of this program. I have to admit, I was a little nervous in answering a bunch of questions but the other panelists and our facilitator, Ms. Meg Herman but the experience was definitely a learning one.
I congratulate Justine and her fellow Kenyan entrepreneurs for taking two months from their personal and professional lives to visit our country and learn about our culture, our people and most importantly the business aspects of an entrepreneur in the United States. I wish each of them every success in their future endeavors and hope to have the opportunity of seeing them again.