“There is a special place in heaven for women who support other women.” – Unknown
Every woman or man who has ever benefited from the help of another woman would agree with the above quote. A woman alone has power but collectively, what you get is impact. This narrative is being embraced globally because back in the days (even to present times), women were shown the competitive side of life, as there was such a scarcity of jobs at the top. Now, it has been proven that strategy doesn’t work. That is why raising each other up and channeling the power of collaboration is truly how the equation gets changed.
Zaynah Khanbhai is one of those women championing change in her community and beyond. From taking care of the people the society has abandoned to building a society that seeks the development for women in the global south, this nature loving woman caught Ibiene’s attention and a conversation ensued.
Zaynah Khanbhai is an African Woman, a strategic future thinker for progress, a multilingual communicator leading conscious business, impact entrepreneurship and international cooperation networks particularly across the Global South.
Ibiene: You were born and raised in Kenya. How was growing up in Kenya?
Zaynah: Growing up as a Kenyan girl of Indian descent I recall a racially segmented country, much different than today’s open sprawling diversity.
I was fortunate to be educated in intentionally mixed-raced private schools, thanks to my mother whose dreams for her three children was the highest level of education.
My Mum raised me with a strong volunteer ethic and granted me the support to cultivate my value for freedom in my social and professional endeavours. In my peer group this was a rare kind of permission from a parent from whom I could hide very little and to whom I could tell few lies. In spite of her struggle to balance her independence and our community’s unfair expectations of a single mother, she seemed to grasp from my rebellious nature a spiritual depth in fueling a desire to be free from any form of restriction or control.
Ibiene: As seen online, you said your purpose among others is to create platforms for projects aligned with igniting and spreading the wisdom of consciousness. Can you explain exactly what you mean by that?
Zaynah: I believe that each one us acquires wisdom through our own life experiences and that we are continuously, uniquely evolving. The Wisdom of our evolution is worthy of sharing and expressing from greater and greater self-awareness and personal truth and with greater and greater intention to uplift others along their own journey. Uncovering and relaying our Wisdom can be messy and far from perfect. It is a life-long transition from pain to peace, from inhumanity to humanity, a process that requires acknowledgment and respect. I believe the platforms I create help to facilitate this transition, which is at the core of our collective purpose on Earth.
Ibiene: At a virtual platform you mentioned that there are three pillars on which you live a conscious lifestyle. Please tell us more about these pillars?
Zaynah: I live my life by three pillars, Care for Self, Care for Enterprise and Care for Community. Over years of investment in my self-development I came to understand that my purpose is to help all beings live in dignity.
As I developed projects towards accomplishing that purpose I recognised that all my efforts fell into one of the three categories. I found that I could by taking at least one action daily in each of these areas become fulfilled. The pillars help me to draw and communicate my boundaries with others and to choose which collaborations to participate in.
Ibiene: From your conversations, you seem to have love for nature. In what ways have humans abused nature and how can we all get back on track?
Zaynah: We are in the daily habit of aspiring towards and choosing lifestyles of convenience and comfort without a thought for the responsibility of offering nature the same value we extract from her.
There is strong connection between how we care for ourselves and how we care for the planet. The more aware we become of what is good for our own bodies, that the earth provides for that goodness, the more we will engage in caring practices towards caring for the earth. I call this Honour Self, Honour Earth.
Ibiene: You’re the founder of South South Women. Tell us what the initiative is about.
Zaynah: In our passion to drive conscious, values-based business between Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa my husband (who is also my business partner) and I noted a discrepancy of men to women participation of 65% to 35% respectively. South South Women emerged as a result of this observation, to position women as the key strategists and implementers of ethical initiatives and impact between emerging economies.
South South Women has a robust women-led direction team comprising sector influencers and staff from eight countries in the Global South. We believe in the leadership of women to build connections with like-minded people across cultures, to hear and amplify voices for positive change, to be the role models, mentors and influencers from the Global South.
Ibiene: You oversee an awesome initiative that seeks to empower and transform lives in prisons and society in Africa. This is you taking interest in places people turn away from. What inspired this move?
Zaynah: My husband and I have always been clear of two responsibilities in business, to grow others as we grow our own company and to create a future environment for business to thrive. To us this meant providing a solution to one of the greatest threats to long-term success for everyone – insecurity and crime.
Espartanos Africa is a non-profit organisation seeking to lower crime and criminal recidivism on the continent, starting with Kenya, by empowering and transforming lives in prisons and society through Rugby (instilling the values of Rugby as a way of life), Education (in self-awareness, forgiveness and work ethic) and Reintegration.
Ibiene: Zaynah you often times talk about consciousness in business, in relationships. Kindly give us more insight on what this is about and a little bit of your journey on this path.
Zaynah: I believe we are in the throes of a paradigm shift to conscious business. We have started to plant seeds around the world for a new culture that adds value to people, to the earth and takes responsibility for where profits are directed.
Conscious Business means recognising in our relationships where we are doing harm to others through exploitation and using and choosing to not do that harm.
It means collaborating and investing for mutual benefit over self-interest. Arriving at consciousness in any interaction or relationship requires confronting our own nature and character, engaging deeply with the parts of us that we hide from others and ashamedly deny exist within us.
My journey and dedication to conscious business and relationships is a result of my own healing; a process of releasing jealousy, possessiveness, competition and insecurity into peace, love and freedom.
Do you have any question or comment for Zaynah? Do share in the comment section.