US, Washington 15 June – US First Lady gave a special mention to Kenyan entrepreneur Ciiru Waithaka Waweru for her industriousness and innovation in a sector that has traditionally been a preserve of men.
A UK-trained interior architect, Ciiru has been at the forefront of encouraging women to get more involved in the building and construction industry.
Ciiru has studiously driven the five-year-old company from two employees to nearly 30 employees. FunKidz products, which include baby cots, bunk & junior beds, study desks and wardrobes, are sold in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Her product line has grown to nearly 100 children’s accessories.
“Ciiru is from Kenya..so we are Family. She started a business called FunKidz to create furniture, accessories and educational tools for children that are based on African stories..but while there was a lot of demand for her products, she found that as a woman it was hard for her to get the capital that she needed to meet that demand,” said @Flotus, who was the main speaker at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 women summit.
The first lady added that through a business loan provided by 10,000 women, Ciiru was able to double her production capacity, hire new employees and start selling her products around the world.
“But she didn’t stop at enjoying her success. Ciiru stepped up and founded a program for kids from struggling families to teach them about innovation and technology and she has reached more than 350 children,” added Mrs. Obama as she called Cirru to the stage and hugged her amid applause.
Ciiru’s Funkidz uses children-friendly tools to inculcate skills in product design, engineering and robotics.
Goldman Sachs launched 10,000 Women to provide women entrepreneurs around the world with business management education, mentoring and networking, and access to capital. To date, the initiative has reached over 10,000 women from across 56 countries and resulted in immediate and sustained business growth for graduates of the program.
“I want Funkidz to stand for something more than quality furniture products. Our brand is about using creativity and innovation as a vehicle for change in Kenya,” said Ciiru.