Double fortunes for 14 GEA beneficiaries
As 14 apprentices commissioned by Mount Kenya University’s (MKU’s) Graduate Enterprise Academy (GEA) in April have found out, fortune favours the bold. Family Bank, through its Chief Executive Officer, Dr David Thuku, offered to further mentor them for another year – for free.
Dr Thuku, the Chief Guest at the commissioning ceremony on 27 April 2017, announced that, the 14 apprentices would enjoy free membership in the bank’s Business Club for a year. The club offers a networking forum for small and medium enterprises.
Strive for excellence and success will come knocking at your door.
This additional mentoring is on top of the nurturing and hand holding GEA has taken them through for a year – also for free. These young graduates of MKU are reaping the fruits of daring to establish own businesses soon after graduating. The entrepreneurial bug bit some like Huron Mobegi slightly earlier. He sold an innovative idea before proceeding to establish Skymobi Ltd, which develops mobile analytics solutions that help businesses see and understand their data.
“I sold my university final project to a car hire company,” Mr Mobegi recalls. “It was a system for reducing loss of revenue and time taken in report preparation, and for security enhancements. There and then I discovered a business niche.” Mr Mobegi, a Bachelor of Business Information Technology graduate, adds that Skymobi has been growing rapidly. “I’ve enjoyed the entire process,” he declares.
Japhet Mwendwa Naomi, the proprietor of Umoja Stores, describes entrepreneurship as requiring “passion, commitment and falling in great love with your business”. Ms Japhet started the business in 2012. She applied to GEA in 2014 and was called for an interview in 2016. She qualified, and together with his 13 colleagues, joined in April of the same year. They then underwent comprehensive training through boot camps. Ms Japhet, a Bachelor of Special Needs Education degree holder, declares that he has “learnt a lot in GEA, especially on financial management and also good managerial skills on how to run my business.”
Mr Dismas Kiplagat, the owner of Eldoret-based Quantum Analytics Limited, says: “I was referred by a former classmate (Mr Kevin Agala) to the GEA website. He knew the passion I had to own a company and the struggles that I was going through in the running of mine, at that time one year old.” Established in February 2015, Kiplagat’s firm provides software solutions to both individuals as well as organisations. His clients include Joyful Women Organisation (JOYWO), Payconnect Limited and Premium Shuttle Sacco, among others. Mr Kiplagat’s advice: “With the high levels of unemployment, unlimited numbers of persons chase limited job vacancies.
So, rather than being job seekers, why can’t we, Mount Kenya University alumni, be the game changers and pave the path for other university graduates as job creators?” He adds that what MKU is doing through GEA should be emulated by Mr Khan Lelei, the founder of Cruise International, concurs. He credits GEA with “guiding us towards realising our vision through networking with various stakeholders across our construction industry.”
Mr Lelei is a holder of a Bachelors of Business Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovation Option) degree from MKU. He also graduated last December from the same institution with a Master of Science in Procurement Supplies degree.
Joseph Musembi’s Benplast Investments commenced operations in October 2015. It deals in bottled water. The sole proprietorship has seven permanent employees and five casual workers. Musembi studied for a BSc in Medical Laboratory Sciences at MKU.
On his part, James Mativo Nzyuko graduated from MKU with a Diploma in Banking and Finance. He later founded Mars Property Developers – a real estate company – in January 2015. He saw a gap in properties search in other universities so that the culture of graduates thinking that employment is the only way to go can be changed.
“That spurred me to start my company,” he says. According to him, the lessons learnt at GEA will help him take his business to another level. Mr Mativo would like to thank Prof Simon Gicharu for choosing to be an entrepreneur and establishing MKU, which brought GEA to life. “GEA has helped me to become who I am today,” he says.
Jackson Onywera’s Tunacare Health Services Providers, a registered health based company operating in Kiambu, offers a wide range of health care services. Currently, it has 10 employees. His advice to students back at MKU: “Strive for excellence and success will come knocking at your door.”
Mr Mobegi lauds GEA for bringing in “great mentors”, whose advice he says he will put into practice. “I can’t forget the Image Horizon Ms Ann Kiongo’s advice that etiquette will fly you high if you wish to strike deals with big companies and government tenders.”