In her endeavors to launch her own sports marketing firm, Grace Kiraguri of Nairobi, Kenya faced challenges that led her to discover important life lessons.
“I worked in various companies gaining relevant marketing experience after graduating and one day I found myself without a job,” explains Grace. “I had been laid off. It was during this gap of job searching that I got an offer to serve as a consultant for an international athletic event…upon completion of the task, the idea of setting up my own sports firm was born.”
“Sports marketing was somewhat a new business frontier in Kenya. I am perhaps the first female managing director in a sports organization in Kenya.”
The journey through her professional career led Grace to the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program along with 16 other emerging female leaders in sports from around the world. During this program, Grace worked closely for three weeks with an American female executive in the sports industry to acquire new business skills and managerial knowledge.
Grace was matched with Joan Coraggio, the Senior Director of the Brand Integration Group at Saatchi & Saatchi, who underscored the importance of work life balance to Grace.
“Women are literally doing ‘double shifts’… and therefore must work smart if we are to get into even more leadership roles in society,” says Grace.
“Largely women have been marginalized across the globe as far as access to education, resources, health and wealth. Yet women are the back bone of society as far as families and communities are concerned. An empowered woman is able to make better choices for the family, community and ultimately the country.”
“I learned a lot of work related tactics [during the program] but more importantly, what I learned by spending time with [Joan] was no matter how busy our lives are at work, no matter how much work takes away from us, we must embrace life in totality.”
Grace has taken the experiences and lessons from her time in the U.S. to concentrate on her business, family, and life in Kenya.
“I have since been able to map out my work life balance due to proper time management,” says Grace. “I have continued gaining business even as I devote time to work on girl empowerment programs. I seem to have doubled my energy and am managing my life with less stress.”
“The experience was a gift for me…the universe was conspiring to reward me. My scope of friends now has an additional 16 strong, smart women around the world! It’s amazing!”
Today, Grace organizes fundraisers for women’s rugby in Kenya and created the first organized sporting event in a remote, underprivileged community in her country. She hopes through this road race, the region’s people—women, men, and youth—will more regularly use sports activities as a way to create a healthy community.
Grace Kiraguri is part of a new global network of women leaders in sports who are engaging, inspiring, and empowering other women and girls through sports. Because when women are empowered in all aspects of life, they gain the skills to succeed and create stronger, more stable communities.