BY ZAWADI ONYANGO Over the years, gentlemen clubs have been characterized with the stench of whiskey stained carpets marred with the thick cigar smoke and shrewd businessmen’s whispers. They have been, ideally, the safe haven for the rich and famous, or if you would allow brutal honesty, the rich and corrupt. Elitist clubs often carry a negative notion and vivid image of “illegal deals in dark rooms”. Times have changed and gradually, women have begun to re-create social amenities previously dubbed as “Men Only” for women too. Welcome to Crevit Mulier, a ladies membership networking society where like-minded women brush shoulders and mingle. Crevit Mulier is derived from the Greek word, Creverit Mulier, which means grown woman in Latin. It is a company run 80% by women, for women. The Crevit Mulier Ladies’ Club is one of the arms of the company. The club’s objective is to build strong, independent, empowered and self-driven women by enabling ladies to identify, address and resolve certain issues in their day-to-day lives. It works under a membership system in order to ensure the provision of exclusivity and efficiency. What distinguishes Crevit Mulier from the traditional male dominated gentleman clubs? Immediately one mentions a male only club, a number of social vices may float around in one’s mind. However, would ladies indulge in social vices such as prostitution, gambling and strip clubs as the male oriented clubs are often characterised with? Contrary to what most may assume, the main distinction between ladies clubs and the male clubs is the emphasis on religion, financial independence and self-development and neither is the networking society confined to a particular profession or interest. Started last year,Crevit Mulier offers its members and their guests a vibrant and friendly atmosphere to meet & network, despite not physically owning a premise. Ladies of all ages and from all walks of life gather for informal talks, formal training, events, networking sessions, yoga, flower arrangement and wine and cheese tasting classes among others. Run by ladies below the age of 30,the team manages to synchronize various interests by incorporating light-hearted events and topics of serious concern across their annual calendar. During public events, high society members give speeches or presentations. The talks are open to both members and non-members however, ideally, the talks are restricted to the 57 members of the club. Upon hearing the total number is 57,a series of questions centred on expanding and advertising the club were dangled up and down, and the chairlady Bernadette Ruto’s response was, “In less than a year, we have built a remarkable reputation among women across Nairobi & Mombasa. Our varied programme of events has established Crevit Mulier as a valuable means of access to most of Nairobi’s top restaurants, lounges, clubs, corporations and boutiques. It will be difficult to achieve this with a total membership of 250”. The members receive priority access to all internal and external events at subsidized rates. Additionally, in conjunction with House of Awour Image Consultants, the ladies have an in-house image consultant and personal stylist, not only for special occasions but also for their day-to-day activities. House of Awour director Michelle Onginjo is the head of curriculum of the club’s etiquette school, The William Hobson Academy situated at Rhino House, Karen. Members also have the privilege of enjoying spa & hair salon services provided on a door-to-door appointment basis. The membership fees range from Sh15, 000 to what the chair lady termed as an “undisclosed figure onwards”, depending on the type of classes and events an individual is enrolled in throughout the year. Quite often a number of members are given the choice to bring a guest for free and book for exclusive members only events or visits that are not open to the general public. The Crevit Mulier Newsletter too, is not open to the public and is posted directly to members two times a year. The newsletter reviews various aspects affecting women across the country ranging from maternal health care, early pregnancy, abortion, cervical and breast cancer, financial independence, health, religion and many other topics. The Newsletter is written primarily by college students as a way to expose them to issues in life and find solutions. Additionally, it is a form of fieldwork opportunity for the students due to the fact that they are expected to research and acquire various skills during the interviews and research. What is the application process? The club does not provide a website with details or forms to download therefore interested parties would be provided a telephone number. Upon a brief telephone conversation, the relevant forms and membership categories would then be sent out via e-mail. Upon application and subject to approval, a constitution is sent out to the potential member. Once a completed application form accompanied with payment is made, the club sends out a membership welcome pack, inclusive of the membership card. Other than offering ladies various elegant premises available for meetings, discussions, events, accommodation, dining, socialising, business, general interest, alumni reunions and more, what is the benefit of such a club? With a wide range of events and activities to cater to the varied interests, schedules and lifestyles of members, Crevit Mulier members enjoy the opportunity to get together, exchange ideas, broaden horizons and participate in the wide variety of activities and charitable work. Head of High School & College Outreach, Rose Mburu says, “In a society constantly limiting the ambition of women, it is a safe haven for women to brainstorm and think critically without any bias judgement. Women are becoming more confident, more powerful and taking control, but there is not a single venue where they can all come together without disruption. It is refreshing to have a haven to encourage healthy relationships among women.” “Crevit Mulier sets out to position a new example of women for a generation of even younger women watching us closely. There are much more important things than being the most beautiful woman in the room and in the words of our founder, let us re- create and re-define the Kenyan Renaissance woman before vision 2030,” says Miss Butsili, a founding member.