Adelaide Odhiambo: The experience I gained as an employee has helped me run my own business

If sitting at your desk, working on the same thing month after month year after year, chips at your soul, it can feel like Lingchi, the Chinese form of murder where 1000 small cuts are made all over someone’s body over a period of time, a very slow painful demise.

Or perhaps, your job is constantly threatened and you are not sure if you will survive the next decimation. In the face of all this, it is tempting to dump it, take a leap and start a business.

As you contemplate becoming self-employed, read how Adelaide Odhiambo, left a prominent position to start Bluewave Insurance.

In just two years, this firm, in partnership with Kenya’s biggest insurance company, has launched Imarisha Jamii a micro insurance product targeting low-income earners.  


On taking the leap…

Taking the leap is not easy it means coming out of your comfort zone and forging into the unknown. What ‘would-be’ entrepreneurs do is, they toy with the idea and talk about it endlessly to everybody and anybody.

They never move to conceptualization mainly out of fear. Jim Carrey in his commencement speech of 2014 said, “we choose fear disguised as practicality. We think what we want is impossible to reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never ask.”

That is the tragedy of ‘would-be’ entrepreneurs, they see the leap as one move which increases their fear, understandably, because of the risk. Instead of thinking of the leap as one massive move to launch the business, it could be several baby-steps made over a period of time that finally realizes the dream.

As Adelaide was studying actuarial science at Nairobi University, and even after getting her first job, she dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur.

“Jubilee insurance asked us to come up with ideas that could improve the insurance space, I immediately started thinking and begun to notice problems in the insurance industry. We were using an archaic system that still relied on people working the back office to manually key information into the computer.

Then driving to and from work I noticed how poor people were the most vulnerable yet could not afford insurance.”

Then the idea hit her, to use technology, to provide cost-effective insurance for the poor. “I decided, instead of submitting the idea, to develop it.” It would take 15 years for the business to take off.

On gaining experience

“The experience I gained as an employee has helped me run the business. At Jubilee Insurance, I was shadowing two CEO’s so every time they went for a strategic meeting I would be with them.

It demystified running an organization, for instance, I realized that simple decisions were sometimes sufficient to move forward the largest insurance company in the country.”

After a while, Adelaide went to Apollo worked as head of products then landed a prestigious position with Microensure as country manager.

“Microensure was an eye opener because they do insurance in the most unconventional way. While working there I would give my spouse, who was a software developer, concepts to develop,” she said

But her employment history was not without its challenges…

“When I was put in a hostile environment, I just saw the good side. So I absorbed everything and learned as fast as possible,” she continued

Then when she realized she was not growing and the environment became untenable. so she left to start Blue Wave insurance.

“The most valuable experience I ever got as an employee was to cultivate confidence. Because when running your own outfit, at some point you may feel like you are bullshitting but I have learned to be bold despite this feeling.

The most valuable experience I ever got as an employee was to cultivate confidence - @AdelaideOdhiamb Click To Tweet

When I was employed, I remember I went for a meeting with executives of a leading telecom company. I sat in the room listening as everyone was speaking jargon, like whole sentences in abbreviations.

Truth is that I had no clue what they were saying. Then, they turned to me, as the insurance expert, because no one in the room had any idea. I spoke confidently and it was okay.

So that’s how I approach business meetings with boldness because whatever I know is of value to someone in that room, there is that one thing you know and they do not.”

On getting the business up and running in a short timeline

It is said fortune favors the prepared mind which is true for Adelaide. Because she had been working on the business, little by little, days after leaving Microensure, she was already working on a website and reaching out to past clients, relationships she had formed as an employee.

“I left paid employment with a lot of drive, and hunger to make it. I was scheduling meetings and even got a contract from one of the old customers that paid me fifty thousand.”

Building a successful business takes time and multi-billion deals don’t happen overnight, so Adelaide celebrates the small victories.

“I celebrated surviving a whole month without a salary. Celebrated the website going up. I celebrated sending 10 emails and receiving 2 responses, out of my sheer hard work.

Infact, I even celebrated that I was doing what I wanted, that was a success to me. I did not set high expectations. When people do not meet their high expectations, they get upset”. 

I did not have that ‘fear of failure’ because failure would have been not following my dream - @AdelaideOdhiamb Click To Tweet

Lean startup

Although Adelaide had an insurance background, she needed a developer to set up the enterprise.

“My husband who is a programmer, and entrepreneur, encouraged me to design the user experience, which is the initial part of programming. I learned through Google but I am still learning because every solution is different.”

The first time she put the lessons to work, fired by the drive to succeed, she did it overnight…

“I remember my husband telling me all the different elements he needed to begin programming and it sounded like Greek. So I put the kids to bed at 10 pm and I started conceptualizing the program, I slept at 3 am, it was the best night of my life.!”

On developing products on a shoestring budget…

Short of money Adelaide did what all entrepreneurs do, develop cost-saving techniques, “I had to do programming at night and business development during the day.

I was trying to do as much as possible to save. I only hired an administrative assistant who only helped out occasionally. So one needs to gauge the amount of work they can do alone but still remain sane.”

She applied the same system when testing the product, “I looked for 10 university graduates and gave them a small stipend to go out with their phone and ask people to test the product.

I would give them money for lunch, transport and paid them if they hit specific targets.  

On staying learning

All entrepreneurs have an insatiable quest for knowledge. They are consistently trying to acquire information that will grow their business,

“I love criticism. I listen, reflect and if I realize there is a problem, I change. Also, I have been part of some very interesting programs that have helped me along my entrepreneurial journey like the destruction camp at IHub incubation center where I got a mentor in the telecom field who helped me think through some ideas.

Then I have been part of GrowthAfrica hub acceleration program that taught me how to, literally, ran a business, they helped me voice out the things I had in my head.

I also got an angel investor who has been in the Telecom space for 17 years, who can be difficult to manage, but I know when I am done with him my business will be at a very different place.”

On dealing with copy cats…

Tech entrepreneurs became popular after the Global Entrepreneurs Summit was hosted in Nairobi in 2015. Many innovative solutions were created, scaled up and consequently improved lives because of an influx of funds that came as a result of the summit.

But as many innovative solutions as were created an equal number of copy cats begun flooding the market hoping to make a killing.  

“Do not let copy cats physically and mentally consume you because it can stifle your progress. But do not ignore them either. Know what is going on and strategically change. The copy cats are there to make you better because you realize that you are not in a safe space and need to work harder and move faster.”

On finding a balance

One of the hardest things for any startup entrepreneur is to take time out, since there is always something that needs to be sorted, yet it is necessary because if one collapses so does the business.

When faced with an overwhelming problem Adelaide has discovered one thing that never fails, “there is a night I slept with so much pressure because something had happened in the business that was making it very shaky.

I did not sleep pondering the situation, then I woke up feeling burdened. So I decided to pray then I felt so happy and eventually found a solution.”

Like any girl, Adelaide has that one girlfriend who supports her through thick and thin…

“I just walk to her house, anytime, for a chat. She spoils me. I am always trying to solve other people’s problems: clients, kids, husband’s, but when I go to her house she makes me feel like a child, which is nice.”

Instead of grumbling to your friends about how bad your job is, start mapping out your exit strategy - @AdelaideOdhiamb Click To Tweet

Like Hillel, first-century Jewish scholar, said, “If not now, when?”


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Salma Abdulatif – The Hair Nurse: I kept trying till I got Salummy right

Salma Abdulatif was born in Malindi and raised in Mombasa, Kenya.

She studies Marine Business Management at Moi University, and she is a Cohort – 15 graduate of the Young African Leadership Initiative, a programme initiated by former President of the United States, Barrack Obama. Apart from that, writing and poetry have been her forte all through her life.

She also enjoys motivating youth and creating innovative solutions to complex problems which she does through her Community-Based Organization, Motivational Talks for Youth (MTY).

Salma recently ventured into Natural Hair Oil business – Salummy and she takes us through the journey of being a hair nurse.


 Why did you decide to create natural hair products and how did you transform that into a business?

After listening to my friends complaining about stunted hair growth, dandruff, ‘rough hair, weak hair etc…. You know all those problems girls have with their hair.

The problems did not just end there, there was also the issue of hair products which promised to take care of the mentioned issues but most of them failed.  

Personally, I have tried all types of hair oils that I could lay my hands on and I found it difficult to get that one particular oil that I could constantly go back to and this was when I realized that I could be the solution to this problem.

After a number of trials and errors, I was able to come up with a particular oil that I used for some time and there was a tremendous improvement on my hair in terms of texture, color, size, volume, and strength.

I am a Muslim, so I cannot carelessly flaunt my hair all over the place. One day, as I washed my hair, my cousins noticed the change and asked for the secret behind my beautiful hair. After sharing it with it them, they also tried it and it worked!  

That is how Salummy hair oil was born.

Friends kept on asking for the oil, and I realized I couldn’t keep giving them my oil for free, and I slowly transformed it to my side hustle. I moved from making the oil to shampoo, hair conditioner and even beard balm for the men.

Where do you get the ingredients for your oils? Are they natural? 

I mostly use organic products ( chemical- free)which is a combination of carrier oils, herbs, and essential oils which when mixed together can be a perfect combo to more moisturized, longer, softer and thicker hair.

I use black Jamaican castor oil, curry leaves and lavender essential oil as part of the products I use in my combo.

I source all my raw materials locally and I get my bottles from Nairobi, in a plastic industry.

Who are your clients, and where are they located?

Most of my clients are natural and transitioning ladies but I also have a significant number of relaxed ladies who still find my hair oil helpful to their hair mainly in terms of reducing on hair loss.

I have a big market base- I have clients from Mombasa, Kajiado, Nairobi, Kilifi, Lamu, Zanzibar, Daresalaam, Nakuru and even England.

What has been the feedback since you launched Salummy Hair Products?

The feedback has been overwhelming. When I first started, I did not have a good response and I had to go back to the kitchen time and again to work on my recipe and to keep trying until I had the right proportion for all hair types.

There are so many entrepreneurs out there selling natural hair products, what makes your brand unique from the rest?

My brand is unique because I give the clients exactly what their hair needs.

You will find most brands promising so much and delivering little but I have always tried to test my products with my own family and friends before taking them out to the market so that I give the people what they really want and not what I envision for them which might sometimes come out as an illusion of expectations not met.

The first time you use a natural oil, you already can feel and know if it works or not. This is the beauty of it.

If you are passionate about what you do, you can never fail - @salummy_salmun Click To Tweet

What challenges do you or have you encountered?

The main challenge has been to grow the business by myself.

I have so many suppliers and ambassadors but I am still the entrepreneur and the head and it can sometimes come out as overwhelming especially since I have to deal with so many orders.

The other challenge I face is introducing new products that my clients need like shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners, and even soaps. I am really trying to take it easy and go as per my capacity. But I eventually know that I will have all these products out sooner or later.

I am also thinking of adding partners in the company and a personal assistant to help me in distribution and marketing.

What is your advice to young women entrepreneurs who keep dismissing their business ideas with doubts and fears?

If you are passionate about what you do, you can never fail. Businesses do not grow in a day, it is a combination of effort, determination, consistency, and creativity.

If you have all these with you, your business will speak for itself.

Article by Rumona Apiyo.


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Mary Njoki: Glowing from the inside out

Mary Njoki
I had an idea of starting a company that embraced clear communication with its clients & employees Click To Tweet

Mary Njoki is a young leader in the entrepreneurship industry in Kenya. Unemployment is a major challenge faced by Kenyan youth but Mary Njoki defied the odds and began her own company. Glass House PR was created with a starting capital of around Ksh. 6,000 (around $57).

Having studied a different course work in college, she gained her first experience in the media when she interned with K Krew. Her internship ignited her love for Public Relations. Later, she secured a job with an Information Technology company that absorbed her as a marketer. In August 2012, she decided to begin her journey as an entrepreneur. Her contribution to the media industry has been impactful since then.

She admits that starting the company was not an easy and a smooth road. The first year of business was rough because she could not make money. Mary realized that there was a lot of groundwork needed for her company to gain establishment in the industry. Presently, her company has worked with the big companies such as Google and Facebook. Her company is award winning in Kenya and Africa. Mary has won an award in South Africa as a young female entrepreneur.


Who is Mary Njoki beyond Glass House PR?

I am a young woman who is a sanguine-phlegmatic. I seek to serve others while finding fulfillment. My temperament enables me to be social with people and learn from them.

I love prayer. I am a church leader and a sibling of one. Also, I am a leader of different associations in Africa in line with entrepreneurship like Africa Rise. My temperament comes in handy for her career because I able to be articulate and relatable to while addressing people on stage.

How did you create the name of your company?

When I planned to create my own company, I opted for expert opinion about my decision. I approached a brand manager who I told that I had an idea of starting a company that embraced clear communication with its clients and employees.

I was asked by the brand manager what I had in mind and I said, “I wanted clarity and transparency”. This was because of my previous experience at work where I consistently saw this as a challenge.

The manager wrote a list of names that brought out clarity and transparency. Once I saw Glass House PR I instantly realized that this would be the name I would work with.

The first year of Mary Njoki's business was rough, she could not make money Click To Tweet

How have events impacted Glass House PR?

I keep myself updated on the events that can develop the company. I also create events in line with marketing for our company which enables the company to grow.

What is the most important aspect of your life?

I think it is growth. I am actively seeking to grow mentally, physically and spiritually. Growth is key in developing a person holistically.

What is your advice for young people?

Always understand that life is about learning. This will help you grow. It is challenging to live in a world that is information centered. Our generation has a weakness of thinking that we know everything because there is a lot of information released for us. But learning to have an attitude of learning and interacting with people who can mentor you enables a person to grow.

Also, understanding that we live from the inside out. We ought to be people who feed ourselves from the inside out. We cannot give what we do not have. However, learning how to live from the inside out by feeding our souls and spirits makes us live as complete human beings.

Our generation has a weakness of thinking that we know everything because there is a lot of information Click To Tweet

How has Glass House PR impacted the society?

Glass House PR has developed a hangout for young entrepreneurs dubbed a billion start-up. A billion startup is a network of 100 entrepreneurs which enables people to learn and interact with other entrepreneurs for development of their company.

It has created a network for young entrepreneurs. Glass House PR is teaching young entrepreneurs on different levels without a fee. It is offering training for free for young entrepreneurs.

What is the future of Glass House PR?

Glass House PR will be the ultimate outlet for content in Africa. It will build more products to integrate the company as a content hub in Africa. I think that the world offers a platform for everyone to use their skills and improve the world. This gives everyone an audience of their own to become the best in their industry.

If people will live a life on the inside out they will achieve satisfaction. It will make people live true to themselves and the world. The attitude of living a life from the inside out will make a person glow. It will make them glow genuinely without faking anything as opposed to the common belief in the society. This will make people live honest lives that reflect who they are from the inside out.


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

Rosaline Kariuki: There will never be a better time to be an entrepreneur

rosaline kariuki she leads africa
I want to do small things for kids, but in a big way - Rosaline Kariuki Click To Tweet

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.

Rosaline pic 2

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?

Oh yes!

  • 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.

Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

 

8 skills you need to make money as a freelance transcriber

Working from home or remotely provides you with the flexibility to work whenever and however. Still, remote jobs should be approached with as much professionalism as a desk job. Here, SLA contributor Maureen Murori speaks to an established freelance transcriber who has been working remotely for the past seven years. Over the years, Sheeroh Murega Kiarie has not only learned what works best for her but has also been offering training and support to the newcomers in the field.

From talking with Sheeroh, Maureen learned that essential to any transcribing job are listening, English language, typing, and research skills. Outside these, a new transcriber also needs to know when to work and when to take time off to relax. Sheeroh explains in detail how these skills can come in handy for an upcoming transcriber (or a stagnating one). Read on to get all the insight.

What is transcribing and how did you venture into this field?

Transcribing is the art of transforming audio into text. This is done through listening and typing out a speech or a narrative into a printed format.

I had been a stay-at-home mom since 2008 when I gave birth to my daughter. Before then, I had been employed at a cooperative, but I quit to start my own business. After some time in the business, I felt like I needed a challenge. I mentioned this to my mom, who fortunately had heard about ‘typing jobs online’. I embarked on a journey to research on this. Luckily, on Googling ‘typing jobs online’, I got information on transcription jobs. The search led me to Odesk and Elance (online platforms that offer work to freelancers). Being a new area for me, I did a lot of research and read widely on the challenge. I later signed up and got to work.

Are there a specific set of skills and strategies that one needs to succeed in this field?

Yeah. There are four major skills.

  • Listening: Very essential to transcribing is listening as it enables you to efficiently transliterate the work. Since transcribers deal with different accents, having a good ear for many accents will come in handy.
  • English: Since most often one will be transcribing in English, having a good command of the language is essential. Many of the files we transcribe are from Native English speakers. For a transcript to be highly accurate, it is important that a transcriber maintains good grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Typing: You should type at least 35 words per minute (wpm). It takes an average experienced transcriber 4-5 hours to transcribe an hour-long audio or video file. The faster you can type, the more work you can handle. This skill can easily be improved through continuous practice.
  • Research: A transcriber will typically deal with files that have technical or non-technical terms. This requires a lot of research, especially if one is not familiar with that field of work. For example, transcribers sometimes receive files that are IT-based. Every time that a transcriber is dealing with an unfamiliar field, they should carry out extensive research.

Other than these important skills you have highlighted, what kind of tools does a new transcriber require? What are some of the managerial expertise that one need?

Having the skills I have mentioned above is important, but there are other things to put into consideration:

  • Tools of work: The first thing you want to get is a laptop or a desktop. It is also important to consider getting affordable and reliable internet connectivity and headphones. Ensure that you also get a comfortable ergonomic seat because transcription work can take hours and hours. You also need to install apps that help to clean the sound quality of the files. Lastly, Express Scribe is very crucial. This is a software that helps to ease transcription work. It is set in a way that the platform can allow listening and typing simultaneously on the same window.
  • Time Management: Working from home can be very distracting. Distractions come in the form of children or the occasional visitor who wants to pop in for a chat. Transcribers also need to be conscious of the time they spend on social media. Preferably, you should log into social media platforms after work.  It’s also important to have a schedule.
    Decide what time you’ll wake up and when you’ll call it a day. Having a work-plan increases productivity. Lastly, you should keep away from people who are out to waste your time with ‘cheap’ talk online, on the phone or at home. You can always do this after hours.  One recommended tool for efficient freelance working is Time management software .The software helps you track the time you spend on different tasks, alert you when you get distracted by social media, and even alerts you when your computer is idle for a certain time. Once you practice using time management software, you will notice that you save lots of time every day and are being more efficient than ever.
  • Work Management: A typical transcriber should wake up, check their emails and respond to urgent messages. Thereafter, you could start bidding for work on bidding sites or log in to whichever sites you are registered in. If it’s the latter, you will pick an audio file and listen to it to gauge whether you can transcribe it effectively. If you are comfortable with the file, it will be assigned to you. It is recommended that transcribers take periodic breaks to avoid back aches, shoulder aches and neck aches.
  • Managing Clients: Freelance transcribers deal with all sorts of clients on a day to day basis. Most of them are sober-minded but once in a while, one can get difficult clients. You may want to read reviews of the clients written by other freelancers before applying for a job. No matter how hard-headed some clients are you should remain as polite and professional as possible. The lifeblood of your business is the repeat or long-term clients.The key to keeping those clients is always delivering when you say you will. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep. Keep the lines of communication open. Always ensure the client is in the know about the progress of the project.

What is the best advice you have ever received and has worked for you as a freelance transcriber?

I think I must have received this insight from one of the many blog posts online, it’s the importance of building a team that you can outsource work to. Outsourcing is the secret to success for every freelancer, but not many of them do this. The benefits of outsourcing are numerous. It gives you the time to venture into other areas of online business thus diversifying your business. It also gives you the time for self-development and to top it all, you can earn more money with a team than you would when working alone.

What is your advice to online professionals?

Working and staring at a computer for so long is unhealthy and can bring with it health complications, including back and neck aches as well as eye problems. Thus, it’s important to take frequent breaks. I recommend 15 minutes after every one hour to one hour and a half of transcribing.

Burnout can and does happen to freelance transcribers. This is when you either take on too much work than you can handle or in the case of busy weeks. Some weeks can be slow, and some can be very busy. Make a conscious decision to take a day or two to rest, especially after a heavy work period.

When you are not busy ensuring that your clients are satisfied, what do you do to relax?

I’m a movie buff. I enjoy watching series like Blacklist and Last Ship.

I also enjoy curling up with a great book. Currently, I am reading Wilber Smith’s River God series. Apart from providing relaxation, the movies, and books, help me to better understand and use the English language. I also enjoy going out with my family. Most of my clients and trainees know that my weekends are set aside for family time.

4 career lessons from Akothee, Kenyan singer and entrepreneur

akothee

Earlier this year, Akothee set off a storm on Kenyan gossip forums as curious minds wanted to know about her wealth. The singer is thought to be one of the wealthiest celebrities in the country and her rapid rise to fame sparked rumours. Wagging tongues suggested that she got her wealth from a rich man and that she is part of the Illuminati. She was even accused of human trafficking. Just goes to show that there is still a long way to go before haters will stop saying horrible things about successful women. Akothee has quite a lot to teach us about life and business, get your pens ready.

It’s okay to have a rough start

Akothee left school aged 14 to marry the man she thought was the love of her life. In her own words, she came from a stable family but rebelled against expectations placed on her. She stayed at home, working as a housegirl for her mother-in-law over the course of seven years. All this while, her husband was in school getting his degree. He would eventually leave her for another woman.

It was after ten years of marriage that Akothee returned to school. She was 24 years old.

It is never too late to make a change in your life. A bumpy ride should not stop you from moving forward.

Nurture your inner hustler

After her divorce, Akothee moved from her village to Mombasa. There she learned how to drive and took to driving a taxi as part of her brother’s business. Yes, you read that right, she drove a taxi (some sources say it was a matatu).

Akothee is known to be a great dancer and although she has made money from it, when she started she was dancing for free. It was others who suggested that she consider dancing as a business. She followed this advice and went on to earn a living as a professional dancer, dancing at high-end parties in cities across the world.

Write this down, you can make profit from doing something unconventional. Always persevere and like Akothee land on your feet not on your back.

Diversity is the spice of life

Looking at all the things Akothee does begs the question, what exactly is her side hustle? Is it her music? Is it her business? The parties she hosts? The acting she does on the side? On the business side of things, Akothee has admitted that her ventures fund her Instagram glamorous living.

She is the woman behind Akothee Safaris, a travel agency and transport service (remember the taxi company mentioned above? It has now expanded to a fleet of cars and will soon acquire a private jet). She also owns a 5 star boutique hotel in the coastal city Diani. In addition to this, she deals in real estate and property, buying and selling luxurious homes along the Kenyan coast.

These days, everyone is expected to find their niche and stick to it but Akothee shows us that you can choose to buck the trend.

You can be a mama and an entrepreneur

On top of managing all that showbiz and entrepreneurship, Akothee is a mother of five! She has said that having kids is a hobby and she won’t mind a number six. As a single mum, she’s both the mother and the father, add to this her diverse hustles and her as a person outside her celebrity status. Her children have seen her through all her struggles and respect her for it.

Akothee is a huge inspiration to single mums. You can be everything you want to be in addition to being a great mother.

It’s been said that her past European partners are the ones that gave her money but after studying Akothee’s entrepreneurial spirit, I’ll take that with a pinch of salt. Here’s to living life to the fullest while generating your own wealth!

8 things we learn from the acquisition of Kenyan beauty brand, SuzieBeauty

Suzie Wokabi

In 2011, Suzie Wokabi, founder of Kenyan cosmetics brand, Suzie Beauty, said the following about her vision for her brand: “My dream is to turn SuzieBeauty Limited into a household name for everything beauty on the continent, and internationally. I want to become the MAC of Africa!”.

Six years before that, she had returned to Kenya as a trained makeup artist looking to stock up on goods. She faced a number of challenges such as not being able to find the high quality brands she was used to. Where she was able to find them, they were often unavailable, overpriced, or counterfeit. So in 2009, Wokabi launched her own local brand.

Seven years later, she is in reach of the vision she set out for her company. On January 25th, 2016, SuzieBeauty announced that it has been acquired by regional manufacturing company, Flame Tree Group, pending approval of the competition authority. Suzie said the following about the sale of her company: “For me this is the biggest milestone so far.”
Suize Wokabi

Wokabi explained, “with the resources at Flame Tree Group, SuzieBeauty will likely expand its range to include skincare products such as cleansers, moisturisers and eye creams. There will also be investments into better distribution and marketing. In the long-term, production could be moved from China to Kenya”.

This wife, mother, daughter, and entrepreneur is trailblazing the way for other Motherland Moguls. There is so much to learn from the successful sale of Wokabi’s company. We’ve narrowed it down to just 8.

1. Do your research

In choosing to start a beauty brand, Wokabi did extensive research on the Kenyan beauty market. In an interview with How We Made It In Africa, Wokabi said the following: “My research shows that the development of products to fill our specific market needs has the potential of becoming a big and profitable business.”

She also did extensive testing of her products in the market before launching her business. She developed her product line and spent a year of testing on the market before launching in 2011 and beginning retail operations in 2012.

2. Choose to work in your passion

Wokabi once said, “If I did not completely love everything about SB and the beauty industry, I would have given up a very long time ago. I now understand why most startups fail. When you don’t have the passion and everything is an uphill battle, it becomes so easy to quit.”Suzie Wokabi

3. Dream BIG

From the start, it is clear that Wokabi had a strong vision for her company and brand. From her early interviews before the launch of her product line to more recent ones, the vision has always been, as she said, to “distribute Africa-wide. The sky is the limit”.

4. Know your magic

While strong on quality products, Wokabi has said time and time again that the affordability of her products is what makes her competitive in the local and international market.

When she was asked if SB stand out in the midst of international beauty brands that had recently entered the Kenyan market? She responded, “None of them will ever beat me in price. The whole point of SB is the affordability of quality beauty products.”Suzie Wokabi

5. Get help in your weak areas

Wokabi says she knew nothing about business prior to her endeavor. She has especially struggled with financials, an area her husband has supportive in.

6. Learn from your mistakes

While successful, Wokabi has never shied away from the mistakes and mishaps in her journey. After some false starts with partners, Wokabi made sure to engage differently with future partners.

She explained: We have had so many bad partnerships. We have had both equity partners and debt investors. There were just too many mistakes made. We were very particular about this one. This time we didn’t make any mistakes – and it feels right, completely.”Suzie Wokabi

7. Engage with investors and finance partners who understand your company and your vision

While in talks with Flame Tree Group, Wokabi was in talks with other potential investors. She had this to say about Flame Tree Group: “The chemistry has always been right from the beginning. So any challenges we ever came across, we would fix together.”

Flame Tree Group CEO, Heril Bangera, also had this to say, “We want to increase the brand’s presence in the market. We have seen the brand is successful, so there is an opportunity now to use that as a base to grow it within Kenya and beyond.”

8. Knowing that someone did it helps

Wokabi often mentions her role models, Bobbi Brown, in interviews. Bobbi Brown was an American professional make-up artist who founded Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Estée Lauder, the America beauty products giant, bought the brand in 1995, with Brown retaining creative control. Wokabi will similarly retain creative control of SuzieBeauty.

We wish Wokabi, SuzieBeauty, and Flame Tree Group much success in their new venture. What other insights have you learned from this acquisition? Share them below.