Walmart's initiative aims to empower African business women
Walmart’s Empowering Women Together initiative, which aims to empower African women in business, will be evaluated by a research team from Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.
The team will develop a measurement system to track the impact of the programme, launched in 2011, to help very small to medium-sized enterprises run by women with the aim to integrate them into Walmart’s supply chain.
Professor Linda Scott, from Saïd Business School, said: “Because Walmart draws its stock from all kinds of supply chains, from fisheries to agriculture to crafts and more, the potential for this initiative to help women in Africa is historic.
And the research itself will be ground-breaking: no work has yet been done that analyses the women’s economy as a complex interaction between business-building, employment opportunities, and purchase patterns, all among women, especially in the context of engagement with a major corporation.
“In recent years there has been a growing realisation that increasing women’s incomes has profound positive effects on a wide range of indicators from fertility, to disease burdens, to national competitiveness. So, the obstacles are great, but the goal is worth the effort.”
Work for the project began in Autumn 2013, and the team is now focusing on system participants in East Africa. Visiting suppliers by August 2014, two case studies will be published, one of which on Katchy Kollections, a jewellery business in Nairobi, Kenya.
Professor Scott added: “We have already done the work in these sites and are currently comparing the data before we begin to write.
“Each of these businesses operates under vastly different conditions and yet there are some surprising similarities.
“All of this is a challenge to develop a measurement metric which is appropriate for the full range of organisations involved in the system.”
She will also be blogging about the project, “Our aim is to be as transparent about the project as possible.
“This study is an independent and rigorous academic research project, not a consulting job, and we expect that what we learn will be important for policy makers in Africa, Walmart, and other corporations undertaking similar initiatives.”
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.