Today our Man Around Nairobi is Joram Mwinamo. Joram Mwinamo is a co-founder and Managing Partner at Wylde International Ltd, an innovative organization development firm that works with entrepreneurs, businesses, government agencies and NGOs, developing them holistically towards greatness. He is an expert in Business Strategy, Leadership Development and Entrepreneurship. Joram is passionate about Africa and uncovering the potential hidden within, through working with people and organizations: “I believe we have the answers right here and working with others, we can see this continent become great in our lifetime. I won’t wait for things to happen; I’ll be part of making them happen”. Joram is married with 2 children and when he is not spending time with his family he regularly blogs about entrepreneurship and business at inspiringgreatness001.wordpress.com.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
I was born in Embu and lived there until I was 9 when we came to Nairobi. In Nairobi, most of my childhood was spent around the Milimani/State House area but after that, I have lived everywhere from Roysambu to Tena to Ngummo area so I’ve gotten a taste of living in different areas. I went to 2 primary schools in Nairobi that gave me a very wide network of friends. First I was in Lavington Primary School and then my parents for some reason moved me to Nairobi Primary School where I finished my Std 8. I then went to Nairobi School, a great school of distinguished gentlemen who transformed me in every way possible. To date, I am still a very proud and active member of the Nairobi School old Cambrians society, which meets and deliberates on how to support the school.
I remember going for “adventure “in Arboretum with dogs as well as fishing in the river. Occasionally we would meet with kids from other estates and have mild dog fights. I remember a time when we had gone looking to cut Christmas trees but we were doing it from someone’s fence, so the watchie came after us…I lived to tell the story. I also spent a lot of time hanging out with the youth at the nearby Nairobi Pentecostal Church youth fellowship which had very many activities that kept us busy and out of trouble in our teenage years. Later I went to campus in Egerton University in Njoro but maintained my Nairobi activities through a campus organisation called AIESEC. I maintain friends from all these networks to date and I can almost get anything I want from Nairobi with just a phone call due to my vast network of friends.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
Nairobi is a fast-paced city. It is vibrant and full of different types of people, cultures and classes. But I also think Nairobi is not for the fainthearted. Anyone who survives the city needs to be congratulated. Therefore, everyone you end up meeting in Nairobi is up to something big. Nairobians are dreamers and doers. We all believe we can take on the world and I think it’s just a matter of time before we do!
I also love the increasing diversity of the city and how people are coming up with creative events and places where you can spend your leisure time. I get fascinated by how every day you can go to the city centre and you will hardly see the same faces that you saw the other day. For me, that presents a great opportunity. Sometimes I ask myself, “what can I sell all these different people which if they each bought just 1 piece I can end up selling to each and every Nairobi?” That’s the hustler in me speaking.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
The disorganization. I don’t see why 50 years down the line we still depend on matatus and clogged-up roads to get about our business. It’s a very inefficient city to live in. You have to plan well in advance to be able to be on time for anything. We should be having trams or light rail systems everywhere by now. If we did, I would not have a car. If we can have an efficient transport system where you can get from anywhere to anywhere in Nairobi in 30 minutes, our lives would be very, very different.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
I founded a consulting firm that works with entrepreneurs and organisations to get them running better, more efficiently, profitably or sustainably. Which Nairobian doesn’t want to improve on what they do? So there is definitely demand for what we do. We have had many people embrace the philosophy that they can build global organisations that started in Nairobi, or anywhere in Kenya for that matter. We have been on the forefront of doing the same by establishing an office in Kampala and now working on Dar es Salaam. As a regional hub, opportunities exist that make it easier to form a regional company. We meet very talented and visionary people in our work who inspire us daily.
The only problem is that the cost of doing business in Nairobi is very high. Rent is unbelievable compared to other countries. Add rent to Taxes and you begin to understand why many people look angry at the end of the day in Nairobi on their way home. The high cost of doing business prevents people from investing a lot of money in the services we offer so you find that we have to be very creative in getting clients to pay what our services are worth. That said, I think it has made us very innovative in coming up with ways that deliver value for our clients but allow them to proceed with their coveted Nairobi lifestyle.
5. If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting?
Our national park in the city is a must-see.
I would also encourage them to do unusual things like interacting with the usual Nairobians and going to nyama choma joints or places with local foods like Ranalos.
I would also suggest for they make sure they visit a vibrant church service before they leave, many vibrant churches are an experience in themselves and something different from what you may see in Europe or Asia.
f you would like to interact with Joram you can find him on Twitter @jorammwinamo.