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24-Year-Old Hannie Maye Takes Fashion Design by Storm in Somalia

Kimani Patrick

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Born in the United Arab Emirates about 24 years ago, Hannie Maye moved to Kenya at an early age to pursue her studies.

“Fashion Design runs in my blood since young age,” she says. “I had an obsession with fashion, particularly when I saw Tom Ford and Sally Karago on tv I was inspired and I believe they are major part of me becoming fashion and designer during my upbringing before I started this business.”

The global citizen is now the founder, lead designer and namesake of the Somalia-based fashion design company – Hannie Maye (HM).

For Hannie, she never dived right from the beginning. After high school in 2011, she moved to Malaysia to further her studies where she studied Accounting and later flew to Mogadishu, Somalia to start her business in 2015.

Her entrepreneurial journey started out 4 years ago in Mogadishu. It was a bold move, she says, “a very tough time for a Somali youth to even think of designing clothes because of the war.” But this could not deter Hannie from stepping into her passion and turning it into a business, “and right there I made up my mind and decided to move to Somalia and took up on its development, changing the mindset of the youth, changing some young girls lifestyle while educating them the importance of the fashion world.

Becoming the first fashion designer in Somalia wasn’t just a road to success but it was truly tough journey for Hannie. However, she sees it as a dream come true and she is proud to inspire many youths in Somalia who are becoming more involved in fashion industry.

Her company which now dresses top Somali women business and political leaders is poised for the international market. Her vision is to go global and dress men and women from all walks of life. “I just want to reach my dreams and expand my company and my clothing line to compete with international fashion designing companies.” With this, she assures me that it will have to come from her hard word and dedication. “the future more is yet to come,” she expresses her faith.

It has not been a smooth ride though for Hannie, “One of my challenging moments was when I conceptualized the first fashion show in Somalia. I got rejected each time I approached to book a conference hall. Everyone feared extremism because in our community when someone hears the word “fashion show” they think of bikini or women getting naked. But that is not what I was up to, and no one could agree with me.”

To overcome this and many other hurdles, Hannie says loving what she does, holding herself accountable and constantly learning from her mistakes keeps her going.

Her passion is also a great motivation. “I’m on a mission and nothing is going to stop me.”

“Fear is what holds many entrepreneurs back,” she says, “and if you don’t learn to overcome your own fears then nothing will succeed. I don’t let my fears come my way because am promoting my passion  in a developing country where by extremist do not allow women to work let alone dressing stylish, so am taking huge risk for my business and I believe I can overcome all my fears as long as I believe in myself and with God beside me.”

To win the game of business, Hannie advises other entrepreneurs to have a strategic mindset, be creative and engage into constant learning while embracing failure in the process. For her, she engages in meeting new people through networking events, traveling, socializing outside her normal circles, and going online to see what’s new. Having a strong vision to where you want to go and what you want to achieve is something that she also advises as a must have for entrepreneurs.

To get in touch with Hannie Maye kindly send her a whatsApp message or follow her on Facebook.

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Executive Editor for Inversk, Former Coffee Advocate & Corporate Publishing Consultant. My hobbies are 🎤📃🚵‍🏂 and ✈.

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From the Village to the World, There’s Not Stopping for Wanjuhi Njoroge

Kimani Patrick

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Being brought up in a small village at the foot of Mount Kenya didn’t prevent the 29 year old Wanjuhi Njoroge from being a successful entrepreneur. Today, Wanjuhi is the CEO of The Web Tekies LTD and RootEd Africa (both which have now been rebranded to Nelig Group).

Her father nurtured her entrepreneurial and leadership skills. She sold eggs and plums mostly after her KCPE. “It was my dad who discovered and nurtured leadership and the entrepreneurial skills in me. I was only 12 and without prior business experience, but my father’s great wisdom guided me through it all.” Says Wanjuhi.

Wanjuhi vividly remembers her first mistake in business while she was still young, “A kilo of sukumawiki (kales) was KES 7 by then, but this woman came and requested that I sell to her a kilo at KES 5 instead. She was poor and said that her children had been sent home for school fees. I knew she had been struggling and so I decided to sell the kales at KES 5. My father wasn’t amused when I narrated the story later that evening but he made me understand why I had to be firm in business.”

Wanjuhi says this early exposure is what motivated her to going into business and her father remains one of her greatest support.

Wanjuhi went into employment at 19 while she was still in college. “I didn’t like it, it was too rigid and constraining. I didn’t have the freedom to spread my wings,” says Wanjuhi.

This dissatisfaction in employment experience saw her go through a series of jobs in different companies. “The longest I stayed in a job was 6 months.” She says.

Her life changed when she went to work in a startup, founded by a young man in his 20’s. “At first I thought his parents were rich. But surprisingly his parents were not rich. This was my very first experience with a young person who was running their own business. I realized that it was very possible for one to quit and run their own business.”

“In 2011 I went to my parents and told them that I was quitting employment to start my own business. My mother didn’t take it lightly. She demanded to see my bank statements. She meant well. I decided to start my business as a side hustle while I worked full-time and took part time classes. My parents   eventually approved of my resignation and my    company opened its doors in January 2013.”

Today, the University of Nairobi graduate who pursued a double major in Sociology and  Communication is a full time entrepreneur. Wanjuhi, together her with her business partner, Eva Njoki, have founded two companies; The Web Tekies Ltd, which is a media conglomerate that assists startups, organizations, individuals as well as groups tell their stories online and offline while RootEd Africa is a social enterprise she founded out of her passion for ICT, mentorship and education.

RootEd Africa seeks to transform lives in rural and remote parts of Africa through ICT and non-curriculum activities such as sports and mentorship. RootEd Africa works with primary schools and the local communities around these schools with an aim of eradicating school dropout cases especially among teenage and adolescent girls who often dropout due to teenage pregnancies and early marriages.

Wanjuhi is also a Vital Voices Fellow 2015, a Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum and the youngest member of the Nyeri County Affirmative Action Social Development Fund (AASDF) Committee. Ann is also a Board Member & School Patron at Kabaru Primary School.

Her advice to young people who want to venture into business is to have a passion, patience and be ready to invest time in learning that thing they want to do. “Start from where you are, from zero and learn your way up.” She advises.

When not courting her clients, Wanjuhi is on the road for adventure, reading a book, watching a documentary or writing on her blog  .

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Article first appeared at Inversk Magazine on June 20 2016

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Go For Gold: Lessons From Chris Kirubi

Inversk Review

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As an entrepreneur, you have to pursue and attempt to achieve the very best possible outcome or reward from the same activity, task or endeavor. Below is advice transcribed from a few of Chris Kirubi’s #AskKirubi show.

Gold is very symbolic to mean the fine things in life. You don’t find gold all around you, but you find at least somewhere close to you. Very scarce indeed. Does that mean it is not meant for everyone? It’s all in your mind. Reach out for the best possible solutions. Reach out for the biggest venture. Reach out for the biggest investment.

Gold is a great reward. Great things don’t come easy. You will struggle to get to it, but the fruits will be there. To be the best, you have to effect change. Don’t be afraid to effect the change. Within our comfort zones, we as entrepreneurs might feel like we have actually achieved it all. When that feeling crosses your mind, that’s when you need to move and effect change. Change is the only constant thing in the world.

Don’t say you can’t move. When you get that mindset, you will be poor. The worst thing you should avoid is being poor in the mind. Do not conform your mind to weak struggles. Conform your mind with strong struggles such that you will put more effort in your deeds. Challenge yourself and out great effort into that. Then expect great rewards.

Arm yourself with knowledge. Knowledge should be your weapon whenever you want to attack and get huge profit margins. Be hungry for knowledge and do not shy away from wanting to know more.

Go for quality. Quality begins with you. Be quality. Don’t be shady. How you look, is how you act. From what and how you dress, to how you carry yourself and interact. Look quality. Talk quality and expect nothing less of quality anywhere you venture into. When you are quality, you will definitely attract quality.

Build your own stature. No matter how difficult it may seem. It will cost you but it will be worth it. Do what you will be proud of. Quality will definitely make you a proud person.

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How Exposure, Hard Work and Resilience Helped Johnson Mwakazi to Build Himself

Kimani Patrick

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If background could dictate your future then that of Johnson Mwakazi could have been the worst. The joys of life of having a decent upbringing are a tale for his childhood; nevertheless, his adulthood is a total success.

Where Did Our Legend Start?

Mwakazi attributes his success to exposure and resilience. It all started way back in Kibera when he ‘said’ a poem in the presence of the director general of world health organization.

The stars were rightly placed for him. “He called me to perform the poem again in Switzerland Geneva, I have shared a table with the richest man in the world”, he says. That was his starting point and he has never looked backed ever since. Sooner than later he got a job at hot 96 FM where he mainly did voice over and was paid 4000 Kenyan shillings after six months.

“One day the producer said that they had heard enough of me on the radio and that I should try the TV. I applied for a job at citizen television without any tertiary academic qualification and I got the job.”

He had no godfathers or know anyone who knew someone else in order to get his job. Mwakazi attributes his success to his starting point, Kibera. “Coming from the largest slums in Africa made me have a clear cut of my responsibilities”, he affirms to me. “All of us have starting points, and that should move us to have a clear mindset of what we want in life.”

Who/What Has Influenced You This Far?

Exposure, it plays an important role in making us achieve our dreams or even meet our mentors in life. My mentor, who I also describe as my spiritual father, Rev Tom Otieno is one good man who helped me get into the spotlight. I first met when my mother took me to All Saints’ Cathedral church.

You do not have to meet your mentors face to face for you to be inspired. Technology has really made it easier for us to know our mentors. If your mentor is Chris Kirubi, get on YouTube and search for his talks.  Listen to them; if the first three lines do not appeal to you then he is not your mentor. Just because everyone loves him and sees him as a great person, it does not necessarily mean that he will be appealing to you.

January ‎20, ‎2017

How Can young people get mentors?

This narrows down to you as an individual. What are you looking for in a mentor?  The problem with the current youths is that most of them are pleased with the wrong behavior. They think that being cool, dressing is some ways or even talking in some tone makes you famous and admired with so many people.

Yes you might be famous for a while but that is not a long lasting heritage that you will be proud of as you age or even for your children.  Do not be mentored by someone who wants to destroy others, be mentored with people who inspire your integrity. Mentorship starts from the brain and not anywhere else.

The Journey To The Top

While he is a household name in our, Mwakazi says it was not easy for him to make it up to the top. Immediately he got a job with Citizen Television, he had to work twice harder to compete with people who were well versed and well learned in the field of journalism. He had to enroll at Daystar University.

However, this was not a walk in the park for him. He would work during the day and be in class in the evening. When I asked how he was able to overcome the challenge he simply recommended a book for me to read. Readers are leaders, as much as this may sound like a cliché it’s the truth of the matter. His main mantra is always, if you spend 10,000hours onto something that you love, you become an expert at it.

“Having a talent without fully focusing on it is a waste of time totally. You must be consistent in what you do, you should be concise. Being concise comes with a clear mind on what you want to achieve. For instance if you want to go to the gym, what do you hope to achieve after three months? Having such questions enables you to have a time slot that will ensure you do not under do it and despite the circumstances surrounding you, you need to do what you had planned to do.”

“It’s not a walk in the park or bread and butter affair; to be able to realize your dreams and live in the full splendor of your purpose. The process of making your dreams come into reality means that you are aware of the hard and tough choices you will have to make. There will be disappointments, lots of failures and more so a lot of pain. These rough times, subsequently, come and pass. Smooth seas never brought tough sailors. The moment you have that at the back of your mind, you are good to go.”

Mwakazi believes that to be great is not a childhood illusion, nevertheless, it is a feature that exists in all of us and not as believed that it is for the chosen few.

As a global business man who wants to invest into business as well as advice young entrepreneurs who want to startup businesses, Mwakazi insists that if plan A does not work not work there is plan B and there is no way you will move to plan B if you haven’t worked on plan A. You need to work with what you have, if it does not work move to the next resource.

“Resilience is the key to every business startup. Surround yourself with people whose brain works harmoniously with yours not people who compete with you. This will help you develop ideas strongly. It is important that one goes for a meet in places that allow you to think.”

Full feature on Inversk Magazine Issue 006. Head on to this link and start reading the magazine. Article first published on March 2, 2017.

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