US First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday night honoured a Kenyan entrepreneur during the United State of Women Summit dinner at the US Department of State.
Wanjiru Waithaka Waweru, an architect by profession, received a special mention during the dinner for her work through her company FunKidz, which specialises in children’s furniture.
The dinner was co-hosted by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women, which is an initiative that seeks to highlight the achievements of women entrepreneurs in Middle East, East and North Africa.
Mrs Obama chose to share Ms Waithaka’s story though she had countless stories of various women who have benefited from loans provided by Goldman Sachs’ 10000 Women.
“Ciru is from Kenya……so we are family,” Mrs Obama said as she introduced Ms Waithaka.
“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 plenty of demand for her products, she found that as a woman it was hard for her to get the capital she needed to meet that demand.”
Mrs Obama said that due to a business loan that 10,000 Women provided, Ms Waithaka was able to double her production capacity, hire new employees and start selling her products around the world.
“But she didn’t sit back to enjoy her success. Ciru stepped up and founded a programme for kids from struggling families to teach them about innovation and technology and she has reached more than 350 children,” concluded Mrs Obama.
As the crowd clapped, Mrs Obama blew Ms Waithaka a kiss.
“Ciru come up here…come up here Ciru,” Mrs Obama beckoned as she called Ms Waithaka to the stage.
“This is worth stopping for a minute,” Mrs Obama said hugging Ms Waithaika who gave the First Lady a small bow of the head with clasped hands.
Ms Waithaka graduated from the Glasgow School of Art at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, with a degree in interior architecture.
Funkidz has more 50 employees in the company’s factory in Kiambu and their offices in Westlands, Nairobi.