Nelly Olang’ is the founder and Managing Director of Connel Enterprises Limited, a company that brings relief to women and girls through provision of sanitary services. With good use of her creativity and drive, she is improving personal hygiene to transform lives and boost health and survival in Kenya.
Nelly thrives on challenges especially those that aim towards making her company grow. In her words, “I believe that the question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
SLA Communications Fellow, Tonye Setima-Benebo was able to get more insight on Nelly Olang’s entrepreneurial journey in this interview below.
Please tell us more about your business?
My company is registered by the name Connel Enterprises Ltd. It is a hygiene services company which aims to bridge the gap in health promotion. The company provides quality foot-pedal operated sanitary bins that are placed in female washrooms.
The sanitary bins fit feminine hygiene requirements since they are placed with liners, perfumed disinfectant and strong granules that kill bacteria. This provides a safe and discreet disposal solution for female dressings. The bins are regularly maintained, serviced and contents are incinerated. Our clients include hotels and restaurants, hospitals, schools, offices, NGO’s, parastatals and churches. We are currently providing services in the Nyanza and Western Regions and rapidly expanding countrywide.
Why choose to focus on women’s hygiene?
Women, sanitation and basic hygiene are the keys to creating lasting change in Africa. Lack of proper sanitation and poor hygiene play a major role in mortality. Ensuring that girls and women are provided with a means of observing their personal hygiene, could transform their lives by boosting their health.
Lack of sanitation remains one of the world’s most urgent health issues hence bringing relief to women and girls through provision of sanitary services will result in better services for all and benefit entire communities.
With limited resources, how were you able to run your start-up?
The first years were very challenging with cash flow. I had to plough back profits to keep the business running. This also made me run a one-man show for a while, as I had to play almost all the roles single-handedly (playing the marketer, director, messenger, accountant, service lady) till I could afford to employ staff to assist me.
I really had to reduce expenditures as much as possible and put all the cash I had growing the business as much as possible.
As an entrepreneur, what are some of your skills that have been useful in business?
Marketing skills: I am a very good marketer and very good at creating rapport and conversations. This has played a huge role in driving clients to have interest in our services and has greatly contributed to our growth in the two and a half years.
Customer focus: My number one priority is to ensure all our clients get quality service and that our service crew delivers professionalism which we promise our clients.
Communication skills: Through this skill, I have been able to charm new clients as well as retain our clients. This skill enables us to have a good relationship with our clients.
What lessons have you learnt from owning a business?
I have learnt that sometimes all you really have is just yourself to help you get what you want so you really have to go confidently in the direction of your dreams to get what you want. People will only show approval/support when things start taking shape.
I have also learnt that entrepreneurship is not an easy journey; most people never share the challenges. It’s all about living a few of your years like most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
Then I have learnt not everyone is genuinely happy for someone else’s accomplishment, loyalty is also very rare and you have to be careful about who you keep close to you.
Finally, passion, drive, patience, persistence and loving what you do and understanding your reasons for doing it, is very important to help you get started.
You started your business at younger than 25 years old, where do you see yourself at 50?
The future is bright, I have plans to scale it up and expand the business by incorporating hygiene-related services and expanding to the East African region.
Which would you spend more money on, make-up or lingerie?
I would spend more on lingerie.
Lingerie is the foundation of your everyday wardrobe so investing more on it would be better as it makes me feel comfortable.
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