From her dressing to poise, Winnie Chepkwony oozes nothing but pure intelligence. A staunch believer in women empowerment, the brains behind I-Bridge Egerton let me in on I-Bridge, her achievements, failures and the journey that is life.
Nattie: Winfred Reins vs. Winnie Chepkwony, how do we separate the two?
Winnie: I am Winnie Chepkemoi Chepkwony. Winfred is still Winnie and Reins means the woman who owns her own world including her mistakes and responsibilities but the two personalities are not different. I am a final year Social Science student at Egerton University, I come from Kericho county. I’m a first born and the only sister to three brothers which explains my nature of being a go-getter.
Nattie : You are the founder of I-Bridge Egerton, give us a little orientation on I-Bridge.
Winnie: I-Bridge was initiated on 22nd June 2013 by Egerton University alumni Martin Njoroge and Munyala Mwalo who currently work with University’s Research and Extension. After clearing school, they introduced me to the whole idea so I could pick up from where they had left. The main objective of I-Bridge is to create self-awareness and raise the development of ideas from students. I nurtured I-Bridge as the Chairperson with the help of our patron Dr. George Ogendi and members. Its intention is to lower the number of tarmacking graduates by promoting self-employment. I-Bridge came up with an intention to harness the potential of young age group to act as a bridge for building a better world.
Nattie: Entrepreneurship seems to be the main focus of I-Bridge, as a young entrepreneur, how important is investment to youth?
Winnie: I-Bridge has seen students empowering themselves economically and creating employment. Other members have focused on Agriculture and Service Delivery. Investment among the young people should be the most important thing. It gives freedom, creates an impact and secures your future.
Nattie: You are Associated with many organizations, can you give us a scope of the work you do?
Winnie: I have been virtually known to be everywhere *chuckles*. I network a lot and I must say it has placed me in different places: the JOYWO women Organization spearheaded by Her Excellency Mrs. Rachael Ruto that focuses on Economic Empowerment of Women, I got a great passion for women and development that also enabled me to be part of the Beyond Zero Campaign. I have also been part of Kenya Female Student Leaders Association that seeks to empower women in higher learning institutions. I have been the resource person to Students Leadership Development Program (SLDP) and last but not least , I now work for I Choose Life Africa (ICL),a leading NGO in Kenya working towards marginalization of health and economic empowerment.
Nattie :You have been a volunteer of Red Cross Society, how was the experience.
Winnie: Very fulfilling I must say. I would do it all over. You connect with people, learn people’s problems and it’s the smallest way one can express service for humanity.
Nattie: Women Empowerment, how important is it for Kenya to empower her women?
Winnie: As the saying goes “When you educate a woman, you educate the whole society”. Our government has tried and we now see a significant number of women in Leadership positions, businesses and schools. We all need each other for the development of our nation and the achievement of our Vision 2030, we need everyone on board.
Nattie: What keeps you going?
Winnie: Haha, well I consider myself as a top cat, the desire to be intellectually top keeps me going, I have a constant incredible curiosity as well.
Nattie: Contesting for the seat of Director Finance, how was the general experience and what are some of the lessons you learnt on politics and loses?
Winnie: That is something that is fading in my memories but I must say it was an experience of a lifetime. I tried. I mean , it takes courage to even decide to contest. I had lessons to keep at the end of the day, leadership is never-ending and it opened other doors for me.
Nattie; How do you unwind? What do you do during your leisure time?
Winnie: I am a reader. My latest books are Zero to One by Peter Thiel and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I love traveling as well though lately I have been tied up with work and school. I connect with my friends when free. I am a child of God who gives God His time as well.
Nattie: On dating, how can ladies gauge the balance between relationships and life goals?
Winnie:I tell my girls never to settle for anything less other than that which makes you happy, and enhances your personal growth, at the end of the day, if it’s not a relationship that makes you better, why are you even there in the first place? Ladies be fearless, stop worrying and go out there and find your happiness not the perfection. Remember to invest in life goals as well as you do to relationships, be a total package!
Nattie: Your wardrobe…it’s quite the package so where do you shop and how does image influence femininity.
Winnie: I invest in good things; my hair stylist is from Ashley’s Nakuru. Shoes and anything else come from UK Trends Kenya. I do most of my shopping online, so Kaymu, Jumia or Alibaba do it for me. Dress as you would want to be addressed, it’s a free world anyway but remember ladies, our femininity has to be constant.
Nattie: Parting shot…
Winnie: Never Arrive. There is a lot of opportunities you can ride on as a student so grab them .Everyone has his or her own great potential, discover it and be open minded, there is no limit to what you can do!