‘Meet the Boss’ is a How we made it in Africa interview series where we pose the same 10 questions to business leaders across the continent.
Njeri Rionge, serial entrepreneur (Kenya)
1. What was your first job?
It was a hairdressing job and I loved it. I had a fantastic time. It was back in the 1980s and I was earning between Ksh.3,000 and Ksh.4,000.
2. What has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
This has to be the fact that I travelled a lot. I have lived in seven countries inclusive of Kenya. I believe my travels to Greece, Italy, London, Canada, Spain and the US was impactful initially.
3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
Luckily, with the job I have right now, nothing keeps me awake. When I used to run Wananchi Online the thing that used to keep me awake was customer service and network capacity. I sleep very well at night. When you are at peace with the world and yourself, even when a storm comes, you sleep.
4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?
For me it is discipline, consistency, passion and excitement about growth.
5. What are the best things about Kenya?
We are a passive aggressive people, and for that reason, entrepreneurs in Kenya are always doing about five things at a time.
6. And the worst?
That would be our politics.
7. Your future career plans?
My career is about business, entrepreneurship and investments. I think I will spend a good chunk of my life going forward as an investor.
8. How do you relax?
I relax by enjoying a fantastic meal with a group of friends. I enjoy traveling and taking holidays with family.
9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
Africa is the next economic frontier. There is a huge opportunity ahead for family business and for existing businesses that have been around a long time. Let’s create a work culture; let’s have integrity in our processes; let’s be passionate about doing it right the first time; and Africa will enjoy the fruits of our labour.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
This will happen when Africans begin to pay attention to the need for giving opportunity to their own courage to be an independent people. You know deep down inside you what you must do, have courage to do it.
Njeri Rionge is CEO and founder of Ignite Consulting. She is also a co-founder of Wananchi Online (now known as Wananchi Group), east Africa’s leading provider of PayTv, broadband internet and VoIP services. Rionge is one of our Five outstanding Kenyan women entrepreneurs.