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Westgate attack survivors wipe tears with award

A youth group comprising last year’s Westgate siege survivors wiped their tears when they were announced winners in the inaugural East African Chama Awards.

Premium Ventures (K) Ltd, comprising seven women and a man were colleagues at a beauty spa when terrorists attacked the mall on September 21, last year.

The workmates’ venture was meant to avert imminent joblessness. They won Sh1 million and one acre of land from Rafiki Microfinance Ltd — the event’s main sponsor.

The runners-up, Coast-based Umoja Muslim Women Group bagged two awards; Most innovative investment group and best investment group in social responsibility.

The group was feted for producing a herbal ointment that kills jiggers and bedbugs.

Bethosawa Development and Investment Ltd from Kayole in Nairobi scooped both fastest-growing investment (second) as their chairperson Beatrice Akoth came second to former Rongai civic leader Ruth Wakapa in the Chairperson of the Year category.

East African Cables chairman Zephania Gitau bagged the lifetime achievement award.

SCALE UP IDEAS

Congratulating the winners during a dinner at Safari park Hotel, on Tuesday, Nairobi Securities Exchange Vice Chairman Bob Karina said investment groups would prosper more if they scale up ideas and diversified investments. He was the event’s chief guest.

“These chamas will be the next big tools for economic transformation in the society. They must now start being professionally managed with good corporate structures and diversified investment plans. I would encourage them to seek listing on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, as well as buy stock for maximised returns,” said Mr Karina.

Rafiki Bank Chief Executive Daniel Mavindu told the groups to stay committed to their goals and seek professional guidance if necessary.

He said the idea of awarding best groups was meant to stimulate them into implementing bigger ideas.

Nation Media Group was the event’s media sponsor. CEO Linus Gitahi described the investment group idea as “a revolution that will alleviate the youth from poverty”.

In a speech read on his behalf by the group’s advertising director, Mr Michael Ngugi, the NMG boss said the media house was proud to be associated with the initiative.

Mt Kenya University, which is Rafiki’s knowledge partner, produced the bulk of the judging panel.

Rafiki Microfinance Bank was formed three years ago and has 10,000 members.

The awards were organised by the bank under the theme, the power of many. It rewards the best investment groups in categories that include member contribution, rate of growth, innovation, social responsibility and portfolio diversity.