I have had the pleasure of knowing Rosaline Kariuki since childhood. I’ve admired Rosaline as an amazing enterprising lady and recently imbibed some of her wisdom over froyo.
Rosaline is a lawyer by profession. For a long while, her mind was fascinated by case laws, contract proceedings, ‘caveat emptors’, ‘de factos’ and ‘ipso jures’. However over time, Rosaline’s heart chose business.
And as with all resilient, passionate, all-the-way-up hustlers, business chose her right back!
Before we get to the crux of the business story, what was your childhood dream?
Has that been the same all through or did you change some things along the way as you grew up and discovered yourself a little bit more?
I always wanted to be a dancer, thanks to the influence of Channel ‘O’. Then in the usual progression of life, that evolved to a writer. However, there was no J.K. Rowling in my time who inspired me as such.
After that, I moved on to the dream of owning and publishing a children’s magazine. Think of this as an enlightening kids magazine, giving them their voice where they get to write, showcase their skills, creativity and pretty much cover anyone with genuine interest in kids who would like a platform or a way to contribute.
Finally, I settled on being a childrens’ lawyer.
You really have a passion for children, Rosaline. Where are we now with the dream?
Yes, kids! I want to do small things for them but in a big way. I figured that the ladder to a lot of ideas that I had for them would need me to climb up by sticking to the legal profession.
So with my new-found energy and charm for business, I realized that I could use the proceeds to set up something for them on the line of quality medical care. The current providers are mostly overpriced, queues are long and rarely does a wonderful story spin out of these hospitals, private ones included. Don’t get me started on public hospitals.
That’s brilliant! I think that good medical care has a long way to go and not just in Kenya, but in a lot of developing countries in Africa. After mulling over business ideas, what did you first settle on?
I started by helping my mom set up a snack shop next to a major university in Kenya, Catholic University. I have always loved sandwiches and smoothies! If you want to take me on a date, you better get a perfect recipe for those two!My first business was like a kindergarten teacher on day one holding me through the ABCs Click To Tweet
I was engaged there for a couple of months before getting into tenders for school suppliers. This first business taught me a lot: it was more like a kindergarten teacher on day one holding me through the ABCs. I perfected my entrepreneurial rocket launch pad, it was also a test of my courage for business and my very first baby.
On to the tender business, would you share how that is coming along?
So far so good, and so rewarding. My company is called Petmil General Supplies, or PMG in short. I tender to schools supplies in the range of cereals, dry food and stationery. It is bulk business and is very promising.
My dad has been a major mentor especially for stationery supplies, having been involved in a similar business when I was small. My younger brother is my partner and I am looking to grow this and then strike another venture, the serial entrepreneur style.Whatever it is that you are passionate about, stick to it long enough to make it happen Click To Tweet
Would you like to go deeper into the lessons and what other Motherland Moguls can learn from you?
- Always stick to the plan: My idea was to be a healthy snacks vendor but we found ourselves trying lunch meals. This shifted focus and by far has been my biggest lesson. Whatever it is that you are passionate about, stick to it and focus long enough to make it happen.
- Financial: For what you think you’ll need to start out as capital, double that. The buffer is necessary as other operating expenses or hidden expenses crop up and can be a tad overwhelming.
- Vision & employees: Your employees need to see your vision, understand it and buy into it. Even if not all, at least one. This keeps them on toes, gives them a direction and motivates them in times of uncertainty. Sometimes, it will be only one employee, the loyal kind. Such handle the business when you are away or have other commitments to take care of.
- Outsourcing: Get help or you’ll burn out. I burnt out a few months into the business because I was doing everything when I could actually outsource some help. Accounting/website design/social media…any functions that you can pay a reasonable fee to be taken care of will ease up your schedule for business development.
- Personal: There will never be a better time to be an entrepreneur. We are the change makers and this is the time. We are much like the American baby boomers who our kids will be talking about 20 years to come. I will die an entrepreneur.
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