Hustle East Africa interviews Esther Muchemi, the Chief Executive Officer of Samchi Group of Companies.
She shares her thoughts on entrepreneurship, wealth creation, youth mentorship and her recently released book, “Give Me My Mountain.” Excerpts
By Hustle East Africa Team
What’s the secret behind Samchi Telecom’s tremendous growth?
I started with a single shop. With dedication, honesty, hardwork and conviction, I have grown from that single shop to over 60. Besides, the company has now diversified into hospitality, micro credit and real estate. I had a conviction of where I needed to be, and worked hard towards that. My secret is to start small before scaling. Above all, I attribute my success in business to God.
What gives your firm the leading edge?
Over the years, I’ve inculcated some values into the business. One of these is honesty. We’ve been able to portray ourselves as a business that can be trusted.
We also invest in solutions that solve people’s problems.
Any challenges along the way?
First, I was joining an industry that I wasn’t familiar with. It was a new area for me and for the country. It was a deep learning curve.
The industry is also dominated by men. When we started Samchi Telecom, monied businessmen almost elbowed us out of the business. They had the financial muscle to buy in bulk and sell at low margins. We had to be creative to compete well.
The industry is also full of risks and fraud is one of these.
Was capital an impediment?
I don’t believe that capital is a major limitation for anyone who’s starting a business. Our first order from Safaricom was worth Kshs50, 000. We started small and grew from there. It was difficult at first as more orders came. For seven years, we couldn’t afford a holiday.
My greatest advantage was the value of integrity. I found that people were willing to trust me, and that’s how I managed to steer the business forward. The secret is to grow organically, like we have done over the years.
In your view, what is holding back the youth?
Most of the youthful population believes in a quick way of making money.
Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes in business. There are no shortcuts to wealth creation. You have to come up with a great idea and have a vision and the passion to actualize it. It’s a long journey that you have to take to be successful.
You take part in many youth and women empowerment gatherings. Why are you passionate about empowering the youth and women?
For a long time, I have obsessed about youth empowerment because I believe the youth are the leaders of tomorrow.
I also believe in quality mentorship and that’s why I wrote the book, Give Me My Mountain, to share my story with others and to show that it’s doable.
It is a handbook for any entrepreneur out there.
Are there mentors out there that the youth can look up to for inspiration?
I would say there are many quality mentors in Kenya and beyond. However, I don’t think they have done their part.
As mentors, we need to start showing the youth the importance of starting small. We need to erase from their minds the idea that you can start today and get your wealth in a fortnight.
Successful leaders should aspire to give themselves to people, to impart their experiences and skills to the next generation. It’s a way of making society a better place.
What inspired you to write your book?
Throughout my journey, I have made some good and bad choices. My book summarizes all these steps. These can be used by anyone in their own journey. I had to write it to demonstrate that building a successful business takes a lot more than having the capital to start. The book shows that some values like integrity, honesty, and hard work are necessary building blocks for any successful business.
What keeps you awake at night?
I attempt to sleep well. However, if there’s a persistent problem, I have to make a decision. Something has to change. I have come to realize that your business is as healthy as you are.
However, most entreprenuers forget the things that make them healthy.
Briefly highlight the firm’s roadmap
We want to inspire greatness in what we do and who we relate with. In my book,I look at my goals as mountains that I have to conquer. I’m always on the look out for the next big thing, or the next mountain. I don’t allow myself to be limited by what I can see. Greatness is what drives me. I thirst for greatness beyond what I can perceive.