Evelyn Ngugi: Hard Work Only Makes Things Better

The YouTube world has grown exponentially in the past few years thanks to more and more people using it as a platform for content creation.

YouTube has produced big names in the digital world such as Lily Singh, Patricia Bright, Jenna Marbles and the like. Kenyan-American YouTuber, Evelyn Ngugi is well on her way to the creme of the crop of content creators with her channel, Evelyn from the Internets which currently boasts 150k+ subscribers and even got the stamp of approval from the Queen bee herself, Beyonce.

Evelyn recently took a trip back to her home country for the first time in over a decade and spent some time meeting her internet cousins (her name for her subscribers) and discovering Kenya again as an adult.

SLA managed to get some time to chat with the hilarious Texas native on her growth in YouTube, her thoughts on the creative industry in Africa and what’s in store for her in the future.


You started making YouTube videos way before it became the IT thing to do. What got you interested in that medium of sharing?

Tinkering with different media has always been an interest of mine. As a child, I would dub my “radio show” over old cassette tapes.

As a teenager, I would enlist my little brother to record “TV shows” and burn them onto blank DVDs. YouTube/the Internet was just next up, in terms of accessible technology.

How has social media helped grow your brand?

I’m more interested to know what people think my brand is, to begin with! Social media changed the game because it makes people and their processes accessible. For example, we used to only be able to interact with musicians or actors when their work was released or they had a press interview.

With social media, those barriers are gone. It’s scary and cool but mostly cool. Social media helps grow brands by putting creators directly in touch with consumers.

Focus on making an amazing product first. Social media algorithms will have changed 10 times by the time you’re ready to advertise - Evelyn Ngugi Click To Tweet

We love that you stan hard for various Black Girl Beauty Brands. What advice would you give to young women out there looking to start and/or build their own brand?

Focus on making an amazing product first. These social media algorithms will have changed 10 times by the time you’re ready to advertise anyway.

So many people want to be a “brand” but they don’t actually have a product yet.

 

You recently took a break from the daily routines of life as explained in your recent video. Why did that happen?

The break was the decision and goal I made for late 2017 and the rest of 2018! Something about being 27, girl… it makes you realize that you are in control of your time.

Do I want to spend the tail end of my precious twenties feeling stuck, or do I want to pivot into something greater? I chose greater.

What inspires you as a creative and what drives you as an entrepreneur?

I’m definitely a creative, but not an entrepreneur (yet). I think that’s just a misconception of being on the Internet. I’ve been #TeamHaveA9to5 my entire adulthood (which isn’t long) and I’m only now figuring out if I want to work for myself.

What inspires me as a creative are how innate and infinite my imaginations are and how hard work only makes things better.

So toddlers are creative, but those toddlers eventually grow up and become Martin Scorsese or something and that’s just incredible to think about. Not even trying to be funny, but as an entrepreneur, I imagine not being homeless or hungry would be the biggest driver.

You cut your own check and that sounds stressful fam!

You recently visited Kenya for the first time in over a decade. What are your thoughts about the creative space in Kenya vs other African countries?

Hmmm – that’s such a huge question for a first generation kid-essentially-turned tourist! From my brief time there, I noticed creative folks were frustrated.

What does it mean for music to sound Kenyan? Fashion to look Kenyan? When we talk about Nigeria or South Africa or even neighboring Tanzania, some of those things are more clearly defined or accepted.

I think Kenyan artists need more financial, governmental, and societal support to elevate Kenyan creative works where they belong.

Who are your top 5 YouTubers?

I feel like these answers change every time – thanks to YouTube algorithm! So right now, in no particular order:

KickThePJ: He’s just fantastical and whimsical and embodies what I still admire about YouTube. Making stuff up. Making stuff with your hands. Combining the two. A multi-media filmmaker.

Beleaf In Fatherhood: As a single, child-free person, it is difficult to find a family channel that holds my attention. This family combines my love of dope music with an attention to detail and story that is unmatched.

Oh, and it’s #blacklove all the way.

Patricia Bright: She is OG YouTube. She is still here. And she’s killing it. I think she’s gorgeous and hilarious and if you can make someone who wears black 90% of the time (me) still be thoroughly entertained by a 30-minute video of you trying on clothes??! SUBSCRIBE.

F0XY: Jade has such a distinct comedic tone and voice and I just want her to win. Because if she wins, I feel like I can too. She’s relatable like that. Inappropriate and so, so relatable.

Lavendaire: She is a sweet whisper of lavender essential oil infused vapor that calms me down and helps me be productive all at the same time. Gorgeously branded channel and impactful content.

Do you plan on moving on from YouTube to mainstream television or the big screen?

My plan for 2018 is to do more screenwriting and share more stories – both my own and those of my fellow earthlings.

Where those stories end up for your viewing pleasure isn’t necessarily the most important part of my plan. But if a TV show or movie wants to holla, I’ll definitely clear my google calendar!! Shoot!

What would you be if you weren’t a YouTuber?

YouTube is just a platform. I’d be doing the same thing I’m doing now, just on whatever website ended up popping off instead of YouTube. I’m a journalist, storyteller, funny girl, and hopefully, a friend in your head.

What is your mantra in life?

“Be thoughtful and silly.” That’s a quote from Hank Green about what it means to be an adult. Growing up and becoming boring/bored terrifies me, so I find comfort in that idea.

Being silly is still allowed – thank God. Stay childlike, not childish.


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Alice Gathekia: Young People Need to Step Up and Take Their Rightful Place

On Paper, Alice Gathekia is the perfect match for any legal department in corporations. She has worked for the Law Society of Kenya and with COMESA Court of Justice.

However, despite her consistent efforts dropping her application in town, she remains unemployed. She founded Kenya Youth Professionals with fellow youths that were facing the same plight in an effort to fight for better employment for young people.

Why does the youth need to step up now?

“Our government had promised about 30% of employment slots to youths in their campaign manifesto. This includes formal employment or tender allocation. It is time we held them to their promises.” She says.

Alice is the deputy director of Kenya Youth Professionals (KYP) and has petitioned the members of National Assembly on the issues that plague the youth in general when seeking employment.

This includes a reduction in experience in the job descriptions put out to give the youth a chance. She is also keen on getting a youth-friendly Principle Secretary in the Youth Docket to deal with Youth Affairs, and reduce the amount of government certification is needed prior to an interview.

When asked the major issues that have inhibited youths from getting jobs, she says without hesitation that the absence of generational change is a major cause. It has impeded the youth from accessing opportunities ideally designed for them.

The advanced retirement age and the scarcity of jobs leave the incoming youth out of the employment slots given that there are genuinely no jobs to go for. The lack of mentorship has also led to the degradation of the employment scene.

This scarcity accelerates corruption as well, which, to be honest, is really a buzzkill in Africa’s economy.

It is time for the youth to step up and take their rightful place Click To Tweet

Alice’s faith in the Kenyan youth

Alice described the Kenyan youth as innovative, creative, and hard working. To her, it is really wrong that there is an unfair distribution of jobs despite the qualifications. She believes that it is time young people fight for their space in the political, economic and social world.

She believes that once given the chance, the youth is equal to the task of leadership.  After all, young people have more to lose in the future if they make wrong decisions.

This motivates Alice to spend her time petitioning the government institutions to fight against the odds that are stacked against the Kenyan Youth.

What are the challenges she encounters?

Some of the challenges she and her team face includes the politicising of the agenda. Some rival groups and ill-willed people often accuse the group of having a political ‘Big brother’.

This is a conditioning of the political mindset where people fail to realize that young people can fight as well as wage wars against systems set in place discriminate against the youth. This campaign aims at ensuring that the youth catch up from previous injustices visited upon them.

For her, this is a lifetime mission not only in Kenya but also in Africa in general. It is time for the youth to participate in making decisions that will benefit them in their future rather than a span of short time.

This does not need to be the grandest action and a simple start can go a long way.  It is time for the youth to step up and take their rightful place. KYP stands by their motto: “Nothing for us without us”.

A normal day for Alice

Alice wakes up about 6 am, and her morning routine often involves putting herself together (which includes makeup because…why not).

She travels to the city, and depending on the day, spends several hours in meetings discussing the issues that surround youth employment and how to resolve them.

Alice intends to globalize this movement, which, to her and the rest of us, is a few years late.

Alice Gathekia is the modern day Khaleesi of Youth Revolution Click To Tweet


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#OwnYourYear Nairobi: Feb 3, 2018 @ Nairobi Garage

A goal without a plan is just a wish!

#OwnYourYear Nairobi is a must attend if you are serious about getting the support you need to accomplish your goals this year!

At this workshop, you will: 

-Learn how to live your best life through intimate mentorship sessions led by notable speakers

– Lay out practical and realistic plans for your New Year, and openly discuss how you can achieve even your biggest, most audacious goals

-Be supported and encouraged to achieve your goals through peer mentorship – we’ll hold you accountable even after the event is over!

-And as usual, enjoy this all in a relaxed atmosphere surrounded by other #MotherlandMoguls and #AfricanGirlMagic!

What are you waiting for? Don’t let another month go by without getting the support you need to make a plan that will ensure this year is your most productive and successful yet. Get your tickets below!

Schedule

[timetable id=”15″]

Tickets

4000 KES – Click here to buy your ticket using MPESA! If you’re experiencing difficulties with payment please email ore@sheladsafrica.org. 

Venue

Special thanks to our sponsor!

Joy Kendi: Your 20’s are not for chilling. Work hard now, so you can relax later

Joy Kendi is a lifestyle blogger, vlogger and content creator who covers everything from fashion, beauty, and travel.

She has built her creative career from the ground up, constantly teaching herself along the way to allow for continuous growth in her profession.

Joy is a SLAYboss and runs things on her own terms earning her global recognition and her story below tells us that this journey is only the beginning of far greater things to come.


When did you first get into blogging?

I’ve always been interested in fashion, ever since I was a young girl. I wanted to get into design after high school but most of the schools I applied to didn’t offer scholarships and I don’t come from a wealthy family so I had to scrap that idea.

I took up styling right after college for about six months and I hated it. So I quit that and the blogging bug hit me.

Back then, when blogging was still quite relevant and at the time it was just a hobby, I had been following a few blogs.  Never thought I could make money off of it, until about a year later when Nancie Mwai (popular blogger in Kenya) got the opportunity to go to Germany because of her blog and my entire mindset on it changed.

Then I decided to focus on it more and figure out how to make it more of a business. I knew nothing at the time but I just hit the ground running, going to different offices, telling them about me and what I can offer them.

That’s really how I learned most of the stuff I know now, through trying and getting rejected.

Weirdly enough, everything didn’t change until I shaved my head and I’m not sure why but going bald was the first step in getting people to see me as a different person and not just a regular blogger.

Your 20s are not for chilling, work yourself to the core now - @justjoykendi Click To Tweet

I realized that fashion is very limiting, especially in Kenya, so I started to expand more into beauty.  Then tried travel and food and all that turned into a lifestyle direction for me.

Less than two years ago, lifestyle blogging opened a lot of doors for me because it meant I could do anything – be it advertising phones, makeup, hotels, restaurants, airlines, even countries!

 

What three things do you consider while creating content and/or partnering up with a brand?

My biggest thing to consider when I’m partnering up with a brand is to answer the question – do I or will I actually use the said product? If I do use it, does it go with my brand? And third, will this propel me in a positive or a negative direction?

When it comes to content creation, I think about:

1. How much work is it and how much time will it take on my end because that’s how I figure out my rate.

2. What have other content creators within the continent done in regards to the product that I need to create content for?

3. Is there a possibility of collaboration with others? If I know a friend or fellow blogger who can do it too, I will always try to bring them in and we both benefit from the job.

 

 

Was this your career of choice? What would you be if you hadn’t gone the blogging route?

If I wasn’t doing this I’d probably still be working in TV/film production. When I was still in school, I was interning at a local TV network, KTN and I was also working in a production company, behind the scenes doing things like writing scripts.

I got burnt out for a while though, which is why I eventually quit at the beginning of this year and solely focused on content creation.

I went to the University of YouTube and watched how other people do photoshoots and edits Click To Tweet

You take 90% of your images, manages your blog and brand on your own. Is there a particular reason why you chose to be a one-woman team?

Well when I first started out, my boyfriend would take my pictures. Due to our different schedules though, I realized I needed to learn how to do this on my own.

When starting out you don’t usually have a flowing income to be able to pay photographers so they would usually do it as a favor to build their portfolio as you build yours.

If they get a paying gig, they will pick that over you thus leaving you stranded once again, so getting a photographer wasn’t an option for me.

I went to the University of YouTube and watched how other people would do things like editing, photo shoots, what cameras to use, what kind of specs to look for and with that information, I slowly started to invest in myself.

I write all my proposals, attend meetings, create content, and do my own accounts Click To Tweet

I saved any money I got to buy my own equipment i.e. camera and lighting equipment, a laptop, computer programmes etc.

It is important that I have a say in what I do, and have control over what goes on with my work such as the editing process.

Before now, I used to have a manager who was actually very nice but sometimes we’d bump heads over things like working with certain companies so these among other reasons is why I decided it’s better to learn and do everything myself.

It’s a very stressful job I can’t lie – I write all my own proposals, attend all the meetings, create the content, send to the client, wait for approval, do my own accounts… It’s so much work but it’s how I prefer to work and also means I don’t have to pay anyone else.

 

What challenges have you faced as a blogger so far?

Getting paid is the biggest challenge and there’s a lot of corruption especially in regards to big global companies that hire agencies here to handle their brand. A budget usually set aside for influencers such as myself is misused by the agency and we end up getting short-changed.

Another challenge is getting burnt out. I kinda got burnt out with blogging, I got bored and couldn’t see more ways to make talking about outfits exciting again. That’s why I got into YouTube, which is so fresh and so much fun. Getting burnt out helped me expand and open up new opportunities, which I never thought I could do before.

One last challenge I will add is learning how to say no. I usually have a list of companies that I would like to work with and if a similar company approaches me that isn’t on my list, I will say no to them, with the belief that the company I really want to work for will come knocking one day.

It’s hard because that is essentially saying no to a paycheck, but I have a belief in my brand and how big it can grow and I think the companies I have written down, will be key in helping my brand grow.

Don’t assume that everyone knows you exist, you have to make yourself known Click To Tweet

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

The Hidesign campaign I just wrapped up in India. My face is in ELLE magazine, in an entire two-page spread!

The HiDesign people linked up with me online because they were planning on opening up a couple of stores in Nairobi. They liked my style so they wanted to meet me.

The head of the company explained how he started the company, his inspiration being how great colored skin complements leather. I was so inspired by his story and his vision, I decided to take a picture with the bag gifted to me by the company, just to say thank you while using his inspiration as my inspiration.

The picture that I posted is what got me the job as the face of Hidesign bags, just like that. Most of the jobs that I’ve gotten came about by chance, mostly because of the passion I have for what I do.

My next goal is Vogue, I’m putting it out into the universe!

 

Do you think vlogging is the new blogging? Do you think blogging will still hold relevance in the future?

People are not interested in reading blogs anymore, they’d rather just use 5 minutes, look at what you did over the weekend and move on.

Vlogging also gives your audience a different view of you. Blogging isn’t what it used to be. It’s hard to tell whether it’s ever going to come back to what it was.

Things are moving fast and people want to consume as much information as they can in a very short time.

 

How would you encourage young women who want to build a brand using social media?

I can’t really tell you how to do it because a lot of things have changed and getting things like followers now isn’t as easy as it used to be.

I would say figure out your brand first if your content is good, companies will be willing to work with you. Figure out your demographic, what stories you are trying to tell because not everything works for everyone, that helps a lot with your direction.

You need to be very patient, it gets hard, especially when just starting out but you have to put yourself out there. Don’t assume that everyone knows you exist, you have to make yourself known.

 

Who are your top three favorite fashion bloggers and YouTubers?

YouTubers: Casey Neistat, Philip DeFranco, Jenna Marbles

Fashion Bloggers: Karla Dera, Song of Style and Fashion bomb daily

What is your life mantra?

‘Work hard now, so you can relax later’. Your 20s are not for chilling, work yourself to the core now, where soon enough your name will make money on its own.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Emma Mogaka: We need to allow girls to be children first before they become wives

Emma Mogaka is the Executive Director of a grassroots organization called Rural Women Peace Link.

She is also an all-around superwoman fighting for local women from various counties in Kenya to have an equal opportunity to participate in governance and development.

The organization, run by an all-women team, mobilizes the participation of local women in peacebuilding, governance, and development. 

Their main focus is women from the rural area because these are the women who are marginalized the most.


Tell us about Rural Women Peace Link. How did it come about?

Rural Women Peace Link (RWPL) was founded in the early 1990’s by a group of women peace builders.

The significance of its name was to capture the critical issues the Community Based Organization (CBO) was addressing, namely rural women who had a passion to promote peace.

Their vision then was to help rural women to network, gain self-esteem, be empowered and promote and maintain peace in their respective areas of origin.

 

Our main thematic areas are:

  • Women’s human rights pillar: This pillar seeks to advance recognition and appreciation of women’s human rights in their communities against socio-cultural restrictions and negative perceptions. RWPL achieves this through training rural based women and girls on their rights through community education on legal education, human rights reproductive health and issues of bodily integrity and increasing access to justice.

 

  • Peace building and conflict mitigation pillar: We strengthen the role of rural women and youth groups in mitigating violence in the community, monitoring conflict through early warning indicators and mediating conflicts.

 

  • Women’s economic empowerment pillar: the focus is on grassroots women and women survivors of conflict and gender-based violence to promote sustainable livelihood management through offering life skills and entrepreneurship trainings. We also provide seed grant to facilitate start-up activities as well as linkages to financial institutions, partners and donors.

 

  • Education support and mentorship pillar: RWPL supports and encourages beneficiaries, mostly bright promising girls from vulnerable backgrounds, to take up opportunities offered through formal education in schools and colleges.

 

  • Leadership and governance pillar: RWPL mentors women leaders through capacity building training and exposure enabling them to participate in leadership effectively in different areas and also to vie for electable positions.

 

What led you to join this organization?

RWPL resonates with my passion for women and girls. I joined RWPL in January 2015 as a program coordinator for the leadership and governance program and became the executive director in January 2016.

RWPL provides a platform for me to reach women and girls at the grassroots level. I have had an opportunity to meet amazing women doing remarkable things in their communities.

RWPL works with 11 women network leaders whose stories shook me to the core. They have grown from ordinary rural women to women leaders. One of the women was nominated to the County Assembly of West Pokot after the just concluded 2017 elections.

Through teamwork, I have seen RWPL staff grow and together we are actualizing the vision of the organization through the support of our board members and technical advisor.

We need to allow girls to be children first before they become wives or parents. Click To Tweet

Why is empowering women important to you?

Empowering women and girls is important to me because it enables them to become aware of who they are and what makes them authentic.

They become aware of their capabilities, their likes and dislikes, their boundaries, their options and opportunities and all these enable them to develop into authentic human beings.

It is important that the girls and women I empower live a healthy life. We need to allow girls to be children first before they become wives or parents.

I empower girls so as to give them the opportunity to get an education and pursue their dreams. This way, they too get to help in breaking the cycle of poverty and strengthening our economy.

I am a mentor first and foremost because my experiences and knowledge positively influence the development of women and girls in their limiting environment. They do not always have to learn from mistakes because they get guidance.

Do you feel like this revolutionary work you’re doing for women is your life’s purpose?

Yes! In 2012 I attended a leadership training and I remember doing the passion test. We were required to complete this statement: When I am living my ideal life, I am…

We had to write 10 things we would be doing if we were living our ideal lives, then prioritize them. Mentorship was number 1 on my list.

Then it hit me that I actually talked to women and girls every chance I got. Totally unstructured mentorship!

I cannot support another woman if I’m drained and empty - Emma Mogaka Click To Tweet

Who are your top three women role models and why?

My mum is my most real role model! She perfectly demonstrates work-life balance – she worked full time and raised five children.

Her passion for women inspired me and I have watched her support women and encourage them wherever she is and whenever she has an opportunity.

Selline Korir. Founder of RWPL, Selline has worked in several international organizations where she has touched the lives of women and youth. I met her in 2014 when I was looking for Women Human Rights Defenders to profile.

As I was interviewing her I knew this is one woman I would love to learn and develop under. I approached her for mentorship and I have been growing under her wing since then. She gives selflessly to causes she believes in.

Leymah Gbowee – The first time I watched ‘Pray The Devil Back To Hell’ I was amazed, impressed and awakened. Leymah demonstrated movement building in Liberia.

She, together with other Liberian women, mobilized women for a cause (Peace) – religion and social standing notwithstanding. The results speak for themselves.

 

Women at Afroes: Anne and Gathoni are Leading the Mobile Gamification Path

 

Afroes , short for ‘African heroes’, is a mobile-first enterprise. They’re on a mission to position African youth for productive futures by, innovating in skills acquisition, engagement and connecting to opportunity.

Anne Githuku-Shongwe is a Social Entrepreneur, Social Innovator, a Development Professional and a thought leader on digital and social innovation. Anne founded Afroes in 2010, as a digital enterprise. Creating gamified learning solutions designed to reach, teach and connect Africa’s young women and men to life skills, through their mobile phones.

Her vision is to revolutionise learning in Africa, with a focus on delivering positive, Africa-focused mobile phone entertainment to the youth market across the continent. Anne and Afroes have received multiple awards including, the prestigious Schwab Foundation/World Economic Forum Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2013.

Gathoni Mwai is a Sustainable Development professional. She has over 7 years experience working on social development issues in Africa, and on the use of data, technology and innovation for development.

Having been brought up in Kenya she is passionate about the country, its people and seeing them all thrive. Gathoni joined Afroes as project manager for the development of the PeaceApp award winning Haki II: Chaguo Ni Lako, ,a mobile game that was used for peace building in Kenya, in the run up to the 2013 elections following the post election violence experienced in 2007-8.

She recently completed her Masters in Sustainable Development Corporate Responsibility. Currently, she takes on the role of Kenya programme manager, where she is tasked with scaling the Afroes product range and developing partnerships.

Join us on this inspiring  journey as we share the stories of these two front-running African women in tech.


Tell us the story behind Afroes

Afroes (the name comes from a play on the words African Heroes and Heroines) was inspired by conversations with my children. I was worried that they weren’t being exposed to any positive African media content; and that their ideas and aspirations for Africa were being influenced by the Western media’s pervasively negative messages about the continent.

I wanted to do something to change that. But it was whilst I observed my son excitedly relating things he’d learned while playing the computer game, Civilisations, that I realised that, children who play computer games are a captive audience for anything you want to teach them.

I knew from that point onwards that I needed to harness the power of computer games, to deliver positive messages to African children. Given the growth of mobile phone usage and ownership across Africa the idea of computer games evolved to mobile phone games.

 

 

How effective has the Afroes’ strategy been, in achieving its set goals and what successes have you recorded in recent times?

The Afroes strategy has had to be very adaptable to the changing times, technology and issues that affect African youth. At our core ,our main goal has been to inspire and empower young Africans with 21st Century skills, which will help them transform their lives and the lives of people in their communities.

We have set out to build partnerships with like-minded organisations that see mobile phone technology as a medium to change mindsets and positively impact young Africans. In the last 3 years we have been lucky enough to receive the following awards:

  • Winner of PeaceApp – promote digital games and gamified apps as venues for cultural dialogue and conflict management, 2014;
  • Winner, Gender Mainstreaming Awards, Empowerment Initiatives, South Africa, 2014;
  • Winner, ICT Innovation Award for Gender Youth and Vulnerable Groups, Kenya, 2014;

To date we have had over 800,000 users download our games and 100,000s more through offline activations.

 

Our core our main goal has been to inspire and empower young Africans with 21st Century skills Click To Tweet

 

 

What challenges have you faced in the course of running your business and how have you been able to walk through them?

Sustainable financing has been a major challenge. We have been lucky enough to have our games fully funded by our project partners, but this has been quite limiting. Another challenge we have had is convincing programme/ solution stakeholders to adopt an alternative media/ mediums, strategy and methodology to reach and engage their traditional intended audience; as well as appeal to a new demographic of social issue based content advocates, stakeholders and consumers.

 

How important is technology for Africa’s future and how well has the African market tapped into it?

Technology is important on a global scale. What is more important for Africa is appropriate technology to enable sustainable growth and livelihood development for all. The African markets have not only tapped into the technology, but are leading the charge in technological innovation.

From Mpesa (mobile money), to the use of drones to transfer essential goods. Recent statistics have showed that 2/3 of young people own a smart phone, giving them access to a world of information, allowing them to tap into new ideas and adapting it for themselves.

 

Technology is important on a global scale Click To Tweet

 

If you had to binge watch any movie series, which would it be?

The Wire – because it’s on my watch list but I’ve never watched it.

 

 

Tell us about the Job Hunt game launching soon and the concept behind it

JobHunt is a mobile game designed to simulate the online/ digital work experience. The concept of this game is to create awareness on digital jobs and the opportunities to earn an income for young people. In the game you bid for jobs, improve skills and ultimately build the skills required to win jobs in this space.

 

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learnt on your entrepreneurial journey so far and how has it helped you in the course of your work at Afroes?

Being an entrepreneur is not an easy life, very often you need to be motivated even when things may not be working in your favour.

There is this image of a man digging in a cave with a huge diamond just a few digs away. He has to choose whether or not to keep digging, not knowing if he has reached the diamond or not.

This for me sums up the life and motivation of an entrepreneur and my journey with Afroes – if you believe in your product, your idea your company you have to keep digging to find that diamond. So we must keep digging.

 

What the next step for Afroes in another five years?

Over the last year we have been redeveloping the Afroes strategy. We have streamlined our strategy to enhance the current games catalogue and from our research we have decided to target specific areas that affect African Youth, such as Jobs and Health.

 

 

What one quote resonates with what Afroes represents?

“The future of Africa lies not with external actors but within Africa itself. The future of Africa lies here in Africa.” I strongly believe in Africa and the power of her people to make a difference in our lives.

For too long solutions to our problems have been sought from outside, but we have the solutions. Afroes is playing our part by producing games and stories on mobile devices that speak to Africans, which represents Africans and that can ultimately transform Africa.

 

The future of Africa lies not with external actors but within Africa itself. The future of Africa lies here in Africa Click To Tweet
Are you in the mobile technology business?

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Facebook Live with Sneha Shah: How to do business in Africa without fearing the risks.(Oct 13)

Want to do business in Africa successfully? Learn how to break down barriers and prove your worth.

On Friday, October 13th, Sneha Shah – Managing Director of Africa for  Thomson Reuters shared with us how the African business landscape is currently positioned for female entrepreneurs, and how you can take advantage of it.

Sneha has initiated partnerships with leading international market development, and works in close collaboration with public and private sector organizations in each country, to tackle the opportunities and challenges around financial and capital markets development.

Learn from @snehasshah how to do business in Africa without fearing risks Click To Tweet

Register below to get a FREE downloadable guide with Sneha’s top 10 tips on how to do business in Africa without fearing the risks.

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • Are there businesses that are easier to establish in Africa than others? Find out.
  • How young start-ups in Africa are changing the game.
  • Challenges and opportunities business owners should expect when operating in Africa.
  • How the African business landscape is currently positioned for female entrepreneurs.
  • Leveraging millennials for African growth.
  • What Africa can learn from other emerging economies.
  • Innovate or disrupt – how to prepare your company for the future.

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Posted by She Leads Africa on Friday, October 13, 2017

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About Sneha

Sneha Shah joined Thomson Reuters in 2001 in New York and has held several global leadership roles across the financial and media business units in operations, product development, and technology.

She was appointed Managing Director of Africa for Thomson Reuters in April 2015, and leads all of the financial, risk, tax and legal businesses across the region, providing data, automation and digitization solutions to financial institutions, governments, and corporates.

She is responsible for driving the profitable and sustainable growth for Thomson Reuters in Africa in a manner that contributes positively to the region’s economic development.

Born in Kenya and having worked in many African countries, Sneha is particularly passionate about initiatives that help empower Africa’s success. 

Sneha is a member of the Board of the US Chamber of Commerce, US-Africa Business Center. She is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the African Leadership Network (ALN) and has been actively involved in several initiatives of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, including the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) (current), and the Global Agenda Council on Governance (2014 to 2016).

Prior to joining Thomson Reuters, Sneha was a commodities trader for Cargill in South Africa and traded money markets and foreign exchange at CFC Bank in Kenya. She holds a BA (Hons) degree in Politics with International Studies from the University of Warwick in the UK.

From MIT to Harvard to McKinsey, Carolyne Njeri Gathinji Credits Her Success to God and to Going after her Goals with Undivided Attention

“God’s fingerprints are evident in the people He put on my path” says Carolyne Njeri Gathinji.

Carolyne is an MIT and Harvard graduate who currently works at McKinsey & Company. Njeri has excelled through life, whether it was at the Alliance High School in Kenya, a prestigious all-women boarding school, or at UBS after MIT. She is a consultant who loves traveling the world. Her best self-care tips? Same as Kerry Washington’s: getting her nails did. No wonder she is such a gladiator!


 

Who is Carolyne Njeri Gathinji and what gets you out of bed every day? Give us a brief tour of your life.

She is a simple, light hearted lady who is living a life she had never envisioned for herself. An optimist with a disproportionate share of joy, seeking positivity and positive energy. She is an extroverted introvert who enjoys bringing people together and forging connections. She is a Kenyan (from Nakuru) living in Boston and working as a management consultant.

Many people have been part of my journey. I could not get to where I am by walking alone. I am motivated by their belief in my strengths, their support along the way and the ability to inspire others. Secondly, my job gives me the opportunity to work with brilliant, ambitious and interesting people to solve clients’ problems. Getting to the solution becomes fun when surrounded by great teammates and clients.

I spend most of my time in Boston with one or two trips to Kenya every year to visit my family. I love traveling so I’ve also established a tradition for a week-long summer vacation trip. During the rest of the year when I am at work, Monday – Thursday are spent at the client site, working with them to solve the problem. Given most of my clients are not in Boston, I find myself away from home most of the week. I get back to Boston most weekends and spend the weekend relaxing and catching up with friends. I am also currently helping a local Boston business think about its growth strategy.

 

You are incredibly achieved – Alliance, MIT, UBS, Harvard, McKinsey- what’s your secret?

Is there really a secret? If someone has discovered one please share…

As I said earlier, it really has taken a village! I wish I could say all this was part of a master plan that I worked on, crossing one thing off the list after another. The only one of these institutions I really thought of for years was probably Alliance. I had that dream growing up, probably from the age of seven; given the caliber of strong women I knew who had attended the school.

MIT only became an option in 12th grade when my physics teacher prompted me to apply to American colleges, and about a year later, I was packing my bags and leaving my family at 18 and taking my first flight of the country to Cambridge.

 

Having said that, when I decided to go for any of the opportunities, I worked with undivided attention on the goals I had set and tried to leave no stone unturned.

In the moment, it was a lot of hard work and a matter of sacrifice, but if your eyes are on the prize, you barely feel it. In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho talks about the fact that when you want something so bad, the universe conspires to make it happen. I believe this, but for me, it misses one crucial piece – the work you and the universe have to put in.

What I have found is that if you decide you will pursue something and put in the work, and make sure the relevant people in the universe are aware, they will work with you to make it come true. Of course, this presupposes that these relevant people are bought into your success and want to be helpful.

Although, I didn’t have the master plan, I believe someone did, and if I reflect on my entire journey, God’s fingerprints are evident in the people he put on my path, the strength and resources He provided and the favor upon my life. Steve Jobs said you can only connect the dots looking backwards, and even in my short life so far, I have had to trust that the dots will connect in the future and given my all to what is happening in the moment.

 

You travel a lot. What’s the best place you’ve ever visited?

Each place is different and I find that there are always unique experiences to enjoy and cultures to learn from. If forced to pick, I would say Thailand is at the top, because of the breadth of experiences it offers.

You studied Mathematics and Management Science in undergrad, do you apply what you learned in Math in consulting? Any advice for younger women looking to study in the field?

Even though I do not use most of the complex Math that I learned, logical and critical thinking skills gained are very applicable in consulting. Inherently, we are solving a client’s problem, which is what a Math major does daily. You need to break the problem into structured bit-sized pieces that lead to the final answer. You need to apply certain known theorems and assumptions along the way. That is what consulting is about. Additionally, we do a lot of quantitative analyses for which a love for manipulation of numbers fits well.

Advice: First, let no one tell you that you cannot pursue or do math…refer them to Hidden Figures! Secondly, think of how you want to use your Math degree. There are many ways you could directly use it; as a professor, statistician, actuary etc. However, there are many other professions that would value a math degree and you have to figure out if you need to pair the degree with another to pursue a career in that field.

I combined my Math degree with Management Science since I wanted to go into Finance. Once you decide to study Math, realize that some classes will be easier than others, seek professors’ help as needed and do not despair along the way.

I loved math, and it came naturally to me, until I went to MIT where everyone was a math whizz and things were moving too fast. I failed my first math exam at MIT and had to take a makeup test to at least get a C on that exam. I ended up getting an A- in that class but again, lots of hard work involved.

 

How do you thrive in a foreign land? What hurdles have you had to overcome?

It’s not easy, especially if you’re from most African countries with a strong sense of community. I have had to create my little pockets of community as I’ve gone through the different phases. Whether it was the African students clubs, advisers, co-workers, friends and families in the area, I had groups of people I could rely on.

I also got reconnected with my distant cousins in Virginia who I would visit for the main US holidays like Thanksgiving Day. As part of the Zawadi Africa Educational Fund, my fellow Zawadi sisters became my family away from home given we shared similar experiences.

Talking to family often was, and still is, my way of keeping in touch with what is happening back home. Technology has definitely made it better over the years.

Additionally, I had to deal with the reality of America, which Chimamanda Ngozi -Adichie so aptly describes in Americanah. The fact that race, a construct I had not thought much about growing up in Kenya, was one I needed to be conscious about. The fact that my hair would be difficult to take care of and be the subject of so many conversations.

 

Who is your role model and why? What books, or blogs keep you inspired?

I don’t have one single one. Generally, I find myself inspired by women who are pioneers, legends in their own right, who formed their own unique identities, having to withstand a lot of challenges to succeed. Wangari Maathai is one example.

I recently read a book on Sonia Sotomayor’s life (My Beloved World) and I am now reading Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s My Own Words, and I would include them in that list. In their own ways, these women are a big source of inspiration to young women and girls around the world. that they can go

Apart from biographies and autobiographies, I love good storytelling, and will get lost in anything that Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie and  Bikozulu (Kenyan blogger) write.

 

To go back home or stay in the U.S.? How do you keep engaged with Kenya/the continent?

I have thought about this a lot, especially recently, because on my maiden trip to the US, I had it in mind that I was going to stay for a maximum of ten years, which would be this August. At this point in my career, I think the breadth of experiences in the US offer the best learning opportunities for me.

However, I do believe the level of impact to be had on the continent outweighs what could do here, so I see myself making the jump at some point. How many years really? I’m not sure.

I visit Kenya at least once a year. When not in the country, I read a lot from local Kenyan newspapers and follow prominent Kenyans to understand the pulse of the country, I also ask about what’s happening on the ground whenever I talk to family and friends. Here in Boston, I also have a group of African friends who get together every so often and we discuss what is going on in the continent.

 

What’s your best self-care secret?

Physically, I would say mani-pedis do it for me. Sometimes you can even tell how I feel by looking at my nails.

But more importantly, I think it is what we feed our mind that really matters, especially today where most of what we are exposed to is negative.

Feed your mind and soul with what you want to grow. I personally watch comedy and have started a habit of writing at least two good things that happen every day. It could be different for every person, but still important to figure out what keeps your spirits up!


Do you aspire to become a management consultant?

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Annemarie Musawale: I took my power back

Annemarie Musawale
Being a single mom, academic writing seemed the best option in order to be home for my son & earn a living Click To Tweet

Annemarie Musawale was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and she says, she’s never actually stepped one foot out of East Africa. Growing up this self-publishing author almost always had a book in her hand. Needless to say, she made up stories of her own. By the time she went to high school, Annemarie had pretty much read every book her classmates were just beginning to discover.

Annemarie went to the University of Nairobi to pursue a BSc. Degree in Botany, Zoology, and Chemistry. Two years into the course, she was accepted to Makerere University to do BPharm. Leaving work as an active Pharmaceutical Technologist, 2009 was the year Annemarie Musawale became a full-time academic writer. In her own words, ‘Being a single mom, it seemed the best option in order to be home for my son when he needed me, and still earn a living.

SLA contributor Rumbidzai had an opportunity to interview her and Annemarie had all these interesting stories to tell.


How long does it take you to write a book?

Unfortunately for me, writing my own books is not my day job. So I can only write in my spare time, which is very scarce these days. So on average, it can take me anything from six months to two years to write a book. I’m working on making time no matter what, to write daily but so far, I’m not there yet.

Looking at the books or pieces you have written what is your ultimate goal?

When I wrote “Single Motherhood Unplugged” almost eight years ago, it was a catharsis for me. A way to get my baggage off my back and let it go.

I put the book up for sale because once it was written; I could not just throw it away. There were life lessons to be learned, a way for someone else to learn from my experience. So I let it go out into the world and find its audience. It is my one non-fiction book and I call it my ‘step-child’ because of how much I do not market it. The goal therefore with that book was…help someone else who was looking for answers.

My other books are fictional in nature. They were written with a lot of love and I guess their goal has been achieved. To have someone read them, and enjoy the words; perhaps be touched by it. My ultimate goal, of course, is to make the New York Times Bestseller lists.

My role model in this business is Diana Gabaldon because our paths are remarkably similar. Background in the sciences, Diana started out writing (in her late thirties) just to ‘try it’. She ended up creating characters it is difficult to let go of. Twenty years later, Diana is where I want to be, twenty years from now.

My ultimate goal, of course, is to make the New York Times Bestseller lists - Annemarie Musawale Click To Tweet

Annemarie Musawale

For the sake of some of our Motherland Moguls who haven’t read your book, “Single Motherhood, what can they expect from it?

They can expect it to be raw, painful to read even and completely truthful on what it is really like to have a baby on your own. I called it ‘unplugged’ because it is like those musical performances where the singer has just a stool and a guitar and whatever talent they have in their bodies. They present it to you and let you judge them on the merit of their work.

In the book, I let people into my head and lay it bare for them to do with, as they will. It was a very difficult thing to do, but from the feedback I have gotten, there are people out there who needed to read it. So have a look at it with my blessing.

Now that’s interesting! In your line of work is there anything you find particularly challenging?

Well, the business of writing has its challenges as many writers can tell you. The first is marketing. Getting enough people to hear of your books so that they want to go look for them. The market is crowded and getting noticed is hard.

Add to that the fact that my books are not the typical ‘African writers’ type of book. One of my Kenyan readers put it this way; “This book could have been written by anyone, anywhere. It is not confined by time or space.” And while I agree that that is true, I think that nobody but me could have conceived of these books the way I did.

It was my unique perspective brought about by living in the ‘global village’ but residing in Kenya. For that reason though, my books don’t have a readymade market. They have too many elements that are foreign to the African psyche, and yet if it were written by a Westerner, most Africans wouldn’t have a problem with it. But the combination of being an African, writing a global book is a new idea.

The upside of this is, my audience is not confined to those around me but is truly global. When I see that people from as far away as Japan, Ukraine, Russia, America, and Brazil…have clicked on my links and looked at my books…it makes me feel warm and happy. However, it also makes hosting book signings a bit difficult.

When I began in this business, I was traditionally published. However, my publisher was very stingy with information to do with my book. They expected me to do the lion’s share of marketing (as most authors are expected to) without giving me feedback on what was working, what sales figures were or even paying me royalties. So I took my power back, took my books back and went the self-publishing route. This way, I have complete control over my content and when I try a marketing style, I have direct feedback on whether it is working or not.

Another major challenge is getting people to leave reviews. I can get an email from a reader telling me how great one of my books was, and why. But asking them to post a review gets an ‘I’ll do it right away.’ and then crickets. All of my reviews that have been given on any of my works have been totally random and unrequested. Those are usually the best kind though so I am not complaining.

Annemarie Musawale: The first challenge in the business of writing is marketing Click To Tweet

Annemarie Musawale

Do you read your book reviews? How do you react to both the good and the bad?

I read every single book review I get. It is like catnip for writers I think. Any writer who tells you they do not read their reviews is either lying or not invested in their work. I am yet to have a bad review though, so maybe when that happens I will be more selective. Even when I get less than four stars, the reasons given for it are not to do with the work; one three star review stated that the price of the book and the size were not commensurate. Well, at the time, my publisher controlled the price…

My one and only two-star review was one I got on my book, “Child of Destiny”. It is actually one of the most comprehensive and complimentary reviews I have ever received. But the reader had a policy that if she is unable to finish the book, she gives it an automatic two stars. I urge you to go and read the review on Amazon, and see if your curiosity to read the book is not peaked.

I am always grateful for anyone who takes the time out to read my book and then go the extra mile and write a review. It is a compliment whether the review is good or bad and I always appreciate it.

Annemarie, what’s your favorite under-appreciated book/ novel?

I think one book that probably does not get the recognition it deserves is “Children of God” by Maria Doria Russell. I cannot emphasize how much her creation of new worlds and her envisioning of the future of this one influenced my writing and my life.

Annemarie Musawale

Are there Annemarie Musawale stories or experiences you would love to share?

Well, recently I have had several aspiring writers ask me how I got started. It’s a difficult question to answer because I’ve been writing stories since I was six years old.

I’d write something and take it to my mother to read. She’d read it and tell me I did well. I guess she was my very first ‘fan’. When she died, I sort of lost my way or my reason for living and I channeled all that pain into writing “Single Motherhood Unplugged.” It was a conduit to get rid of the rage and the pain. It was that or go mad.

It was the beginning of getting better. After that, there were many stories I began and failed to finish. But then one night I had a dream about a teenage girl and a teenage guy. And when I woke up the story was still in my head. And it stayed in my head until I wrote it down.

Then I sent it to the Kwani Manuscript Project. And they long listed it despite the fact that it was in no way an ‘African writer’ type story. So when people ask me, “How did you do it?” I really don’t know what to say. Because it just happened.

Tell us would you rather be unable to use search engines or unable to use social media?

This is a hard one guys. Search engines are necessary for just finding things out and social media is necessary to get the word out. They’re both equally important. But if I absolutely had to choose, I guess I could do without social media for a while. There are other ways to get the word out…hopefully.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

How to land a job in the (Kenyan) public sector

It's easy to get a job in the public sector, provided you're is confident, a go-getter and have experience Click To Tweet

When it comes to landing a job with the government, many people think it is a tall order that can’t be achieved by common citizens.

According to Aziza Said, a communication professional working under the presidency, it is easy to get a job in the public sector, provided one is confident, has a go-getter mentality and experience in a related field.

Here’s a summary of what the young Kenyan lady believes propelled her into getting a job in the public sector and keeping it so far.

Confidence and immeasurable experience

Working in the public sector is like working in any other job. As such, an interested candidate should have the common and necessary qualities such as relevant education and experience in the field. Above all, one needs confidence and a belief in self- qualities that push one to seek opportunities that will help them to grow in that field.

Prior to working with the government, Aziza was a radio program host for two local stations. Here, she had an opportunity to put into practice her acquired skills. She expanded on people skills, a quality that is crucial, especially, while working in a government office.

Excellent communication skills

It is Aziza’s duty to ensure that information from the government reaches the public. Information is important in improving the lives of the citizens.

“I am also keen on informing Kenyans about the country’s performance in the global market,” she adds.

Communication skills are vital when it comes to performing these duties, as well as interacting with the public. This does not apply to communication professionals alone. All public servants should be able to communicate and interact well with colleagues and the general public at large.

All public servants should be able to communicate and interact with their colleagues & the public Click To Tweet
Photo credit: Aziza

Know what the Constitution says about your duties as a public servant

The Constitution stipulates what public servants should and shouldn’t do. It is therefore important for government officers to know what the Constitution says about their field of work.

As a media practitioner, the constitution has separate clauses that inform us how information should be collected, reviewed and shared with the public. Articles 31, 33, 34, and 35 of the Kenyan Constitution give a guideline on how to handle and disseminate information.

The good thing about the government is that there are training opportunities for every employee Click To Tweet

Be on the lookout for opportunities to advance self

The good thing about the government is that there are training opportunities for each and every employee. It is the duty of the particular public servant to identify and attend such training opportunities to increase their knowledge on a specific area.

Public servants are also encouraged to go back to school for higher education. The good thing is when there are promotions; those with more experience and education are considered and rewarded.

Aziza believes she’s grown immensely in the past two years since joining the government. She advises citizens to be on the lookout for job adverts in the Kenya Gazette, local dailies, and relevant websites, as well as keep tabs with those working in such offices, also known as networking.

“Look at the requirements for every posting and avail all the necessary documents, as this is where the initial short-listing process starts,” Aziza advises.