How Women-Led Businesses Are Contributing To Base Titanium’s Operational Success
For big projects like that of the Base Titanium in Kwale, the large number of crews spend thousands if not millions of man-hours at the base camp delivering operational success. This normally requires that the company also puts in place a mechanism to provide a robust mechanism for life support for its thousands of workers. The life support services are provided by a wide range of contractors to the operations. One of the key life support services is catering and accommodation for the crew. The mine depends on entirely 75% of its supplies from the local community in Kwale for its sustenance.
There is one woman who is at the center of supplying a key component of the catering service. Josphine Mutiso of Bhiphev Diani Limited is now supplying Liquified Petroleum Gas(LPG) to Base Titanium. Her entrepreneurship journey started 7 years ago as a small vendor selling repackaged drinking water and vending smokies and mushrooms in Ukunda. The enterprise grew and she moved into supplying hotels in Diani and her business became bigger and bigger until when the mega retail chain Nakumatt came into the fray and displaced her from the market.
“It happened very fast. As a business, we had not prepared for this and it hit us badly because we did not know how to react to the market,” she says while reflecting on her former years.
She says as a family business she, was mandated by the husband to run the business a co-director and during this period she had to think fast. She enrolled for a Business Degree at Rongo University to sharpen her knowledge but its also during this period that she branched off from her former business and started to sell gas and also became a realtor to sell and manage residential and commercial office spaces in Kwale.
“This was a new break for me and my family the story changed forever. When my husband saw this he was so moved and we also opened a motor vehicle spare parts outlet as part of product offerings at Biphev. We had to look for a new place for our business and that is how we got the inspiration to build our shopping complex.”
Visiting the Biphev shopping complex in Ukunda is a true testament of determination and rewards of great work. She is so proud that she has created jobs for 7 of her staff and the transport people she engages often when delivering supplies to her clientele. She speaks with a lot of enthusiasm about her journey to becoming one of BTL’s suppliers:
“This was a journey of faith and our clientele for domestic gas continued to rise and that is when after attending several pieces of training organized by Base Titanium and Invest in Africa, we decided to submit our bids to supply the LPG to them. At first, I was apprehensive but with the support from the BTL procurement team I was able to prove myself and I won the tender to supply.”
She applauds the supplier paying mechanism at BTL that has enabled her to operate a bank account. She jokes about this that for her opening a bank account was an unimaginable feat, she used to think that only men with suits are the ones who operate bank accounts. She says, she now operates a Gmail account where she receives alerts on her payments and statements.
“ Without the digital literacy program by Invest in Africa for the Businesses on Biashara.Now at Red Cross Centre, I would still be analog,” she curtly says as she bursts into a peal of prolonged laughter.
She says she draws her inspiration from Lydia Tioko, a contractor for Tullow Kenya BV in Turkana whose video has been a motivation for her. She says seeing a woman managing a construction company made her resolve to be the Lydia Tioko for Base Titanium and has aspirations to also grow
her business and venture into a construction based on the knowledge and insights she has already received on doing business and specifically as a realtor in Kwale County.
She is very optimistic that the awareness being created on available local content opportunities and the capacity building programs through the Biashara.Now the platform will catalyse more opportunities for women to participate in the business.
“I am happy to share my journey as a woman director. It has not been smooth but being consistent and the unending support from my husband has lifted me to this level,” she says as she ushers her into her kitchenette for a cold glass of tangerine juice.
Through such businesses, Base Titanium is creating more opportunities for local businesses to make a contribution to its business and operations