“When women are empowered and are given an opportunity to lead, they can do it even better than a man,” says Linnet Ayuma, Finance and Administration Manager at Village Enterprise. It has been 12 years since Linnet first stepped foot in the Village Enterprise office in Kakamega, Kenya. She has witnessed immense changes since then – including the Kenya office relocation to Kitale and the shift from volunteer to employed Business Mentors – but some of the greatest changes have been within herself.
Linnet started her Village Enterprise journey as an intern in October of 2004. She now oversees all of the finances in our three East Africa offices and ensures that all field activities run smoothly. After 12 years, one might wonder, why has Linnet stuck around? She explains, “I love what Village Enterprise does, reaching out to people living in extreme poverty. I may not do it directly in my role but I love to facilitate the process so that people are really empowered on the ground.”
In February, Linnet was invited to participate in the Global Women’s Leadership Network’s week-long “Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership” training in Nairobi, Kenya. GWLN exists to help women step out of survival and dependence into their inherent power, enabling the transformation of world conditions – woman by woman. GWLN achieves this by dramatically expanding the pool of women leaders with the capacity to serve as drivers of positive change and to catalyze collaboration among organizations and individuals. GWLN alumni currently work in over 40 countries, creating new opportunities for women and girls.
During the conference, Linnet participated in small group discussions that helped attendees understand what it means to be a strong leader. According to Linnet, “The presenters were so inspiring. It felt like they were talking about me. But when I got into the group discussions and we shared our thoughts, I realized ‘wow’, the presenters are touching each and every person here.”
Linnet explained that the course focused on self-discovery and unleashing every individual’s potential. Her biggest takeaway is that, “Leadership should come out of me in a natural way. It’s not like because I am a leader, I need to be showing up dressed in a suit. No. It should be a part of me. And I want it to not only show in my work but also out there—with my children, at church, in my community.”
Now that Linnet is back in the Kitale office, she is striving to use what she learned at the “Being a Leader” in her work with her Finance and Administration and Field Management Teams. She explains, “As a woman at Village Enterprise, I have been empowered to lead. And now it is my turn to help empower my team members to solve their own problems and to move in the right directions.”
Linnet is just one of the amazing women leaders that works for Village Enterprise in East Africa. We invest in creating and empowering local women leaders through such conferences as “Being a Leader” and leadership opportunities within the organization. After all, “a woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her future by extending benefits to the world around her, creating a better life for her family and building a strong community.”
Linnet Ayuma (second from left) with participants at the Global Women’s Leadership Network’s week-long “Being a Leader and Effective Exercise of Leadership” training.