Maureen Murunga of Amadiva Beauty talks about her partnership with KCB Foundation’s 2Jiajiri program.
When it comes to the crippling issue of tackling unemployment, very little attention is paid to the role that the informal sector can play in fostering growth and creating jobs for the youth. Providing support to the informal sector in Kenya can largely relieve the overbearing pressure that the country has seen in creating jobs for the over 800,000 youth joining the job market every year; and this is exactly what Maureen Murunga, Proprietor of Amadiva Beauty explains is what the #2Jiajiri program is about.
Her story is one of taking enormous risks with her business, after all, entrepreneurship is all about risk, an enormous amount of passion and the ability to provide credible solutions to everyday problems – and her partnership with KCB Foundation’s 2Jiajiri program and Azizi Hair & Beauty Salon presents a unique opportunity for young, ambitious youth to get the necessary skills required in hair & beauty and even go a step further in helping them set up their own franchises.
How did such an idea come about?
It started out when Maureen discovered a huge gap in the creative involvement of Africans in the hair and beauty industry. She points out how many of us are mostly involved in the final stages of the process; the running of beauty salons and the consumption of these hair products but with very little contribution in the sourcing, manufacturing and selling of these same products that we use every day. It was then her dream to make sure that people get involved and make sure that this gap was filled with the very people who are continuously involved in the industry.
Maureen quit her then banking job with Barclays Bank in Johannesburg, took a two-year hiatus as she researched and explored the hair and beauty industry, quit her job and began the journey to create the franchise Neo Amadiva. The over-ten-year journey has seen its many ups and downs but one thing she attests to in order for a budding business to grow and flourish is an immense amount of support and that’s where the partnership with the 2Jiajiri Foundation comes in.
“I had no experience in the hair and beauty industry and it scared me to think that the only thing that would hold me back was the fact that I didn’t have the experience. I was determined to see Amadiva grow and I was even more determined to take the necessary steps to see that other unwavering hairstylists get the support they need to build their dynasties like I built mine.”
The partnership with KCB Foundation, Amadiva and Azizi Beauty College is one of a kind and she expresses it as a revolutionary concept to seeing the hair & beauty industry flourish in the country. Together, Amadiva and Azizi Hair & Beauty College will train 120 stylists and beauticians. They then aim to launch a series of 10 fully functioning kitted container salons where the beneficiaries of the 2Jiajiri program can run their own outfits. The salons, which are a great concept designed by Twenty X Four, are optimally designed to provide everything a salon needs to operate. Each container, which is able to host 13 people is a fully fledged incubation space and from the experience, the graduates are able to get from their training and experience with the Amadiva staff, they are able to run their own businesses.
Once the loan acquired from the bank is paid to pay off the container, the business which was initially under the care and continuous support from the Amadiva franchise is now able to stand on its own and the owner has the option to continue under the franchise or set up their own outfit.
Maureen explains that her dream is to empower other stylists and help them see that their work and efforts can pay off. Most people view the hair styling business as something one would do because they failed in school, but if you saw the amount of work these stylists put in day in and day out, you would have a new found sense of respect for their jobs.
“Their work has dignity and it is my dream to make sure they believe it is so.”
One of the biggest factors that pulled her into the partnership with the 2jiairi program as she explains is how the KCB Foundation is set on focusing on the bigger majority; the majority that doesn’t have the opportunity to go to school and follow their dreams, the majority that is looked down upon because they do not have a wholesome education and are not given a chance to become great in the society. She emphasises that she is proud of her work because it has been able to give these less fortunate a chance to prove that they can make a difference, not just to one person but to the many others who are able to create jobs and change the lives of many more.
She goes on to give one of her own success stories from Amadiva. Alice was a simple girl from Bondo. Her mother sacrificed all she could for her to come to study in Nairobi and after a long and worthwhile struggle, she was able to get a chance to get absorbed into the hair and beauty industry. Four years ago, she used to pull in about 30,000 Kshs per month if lucky. Today, she gets about 400,000 per month, all because someone believed in her and was willing to take their time and effort to take a chance from a simple girl with big dreams.
“I applaud the work and the risk that KCB Foundation is taking with these young people and if more organizations and franchises were to take the step of believing in the amazing ideas that our youth have, we would be in a better position when it comes to the development of the continent.”
She also goes on to advise the many budding entrepreneurs to be resilient. She says that even with the background in the banking industry, she still had to go through many hurdles to get the capital for her business, but if she decided to give up at the first try, Amadiva would not exist. She says that her job is to transform lives, both of her clients and her stylists and without her resilience and the support of organizations like the KCB Foundation that dream would be far-fetched.