Today on Pearls And Heels we feature Veronica Mathenge. Veronica Mathenge’s background is in Social Work and Administration. For over 25 years, she has worked for Church World Service/RSC Africa, a US Refugee Admissions Program. This was the second job she got after college training. During her tenure in the organization, she had the privilege of working in various capacities and holding several supervisory and managerial roles. The organization inculcated in her a good work ethic and the need to always maintain high standards in whatever she does.
In February 2017, the organization underwent some restructuring and she was among several staff members made redundant. After a few months, she was fortunate to be rehired on a contract basis with the same organization. During her stay at home, Veronica did some serious soul-searching and realized that there are no guarantees in life and she would have to take charge of her future. In April 2018, she decided that it was time to “retire”, and follow her dream which was to run a business and impact society. She is currently involved in running Alme Shefa as one of the founding Directors. Alme Shefa Limited is a company that exports myrrh resin gum to the Asian market. Veronica is also a Director and Board member of Earthnique Limited, a company that provides natural beauty products for African women.
As a strong supporter of women’s empowerment, she is a friend of Kimlea Training Centre. Kimlea, a Centre established by the Kianda Foundation, provides opportunities for less privileged girls and women in the Limuru tea-picking area. For several years, she has been making monthly monetary contributions to Kimlea to support the centre as it fulfils its mandate of providing skills and expertise in Hospitality and Tourism to these women. The transformation that occurs in the families involved as a result of the training and the change in their standards of living is amazing and extremely rewarding.
- Describe your typical day.
As a business owner, no single day is the same as there are different demands on my time every day. However, I start each day with morning meditation. There are some days that are intense due to a raft of meetings, review of reports and strategizing while other days are not as intense.
To organize myself, I have a daily planner where I diarize all activities. At the end of each day, I ensure that I review what the next day will look like. I also set aside time in the morning and in the evening to catch up on my emails, respond to inquiries and return phone calls.
I am currently undertaking a business entrepreneurial course and, in addition to attending classes, I have scheduled an hour each day to work on my assignments and research.
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
Well…. I actually wanted to be in the hospitality industry but my parents did not share my vision! Ultimately, I enrolled in college where I received my professional Administration training. As fate would have it, it is because of this training and the skills set gained that enabled me to apply for a job and be successful in getting employment with Church World Service/RSC Africa.
I also believed and still do believe that I am meant to be in Parliament, I have not completely given up on this dream.
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would have left employment earlier. Fear of not having an income and fear that my business would fail kept me from “retiring” when I had initially intended to.
- What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
It is important to establish oneself as a person of integrity.
As an entrepreneur, you are required to be self-driven and passionate about your business.
The ability to constantly forecast means that you looking for ways to grow the business, and demands that one be visionary.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
I have not experienced any difficulties conducting business in Nairobi. Knowing what traffic is like in Nairobi, I am very purposeful when scheduling meetings. I have found that scheduling early morning meetings or evening meetings helps me avoid the hectic traffic jams.
The challenges I have faced include transitioning from being an employee with set roles and responsibilities to being personally responsible in defining my role in the company. Also getting my co-Directors to believe in the vision that I have for the business and identify reliable suppliers.
- What motivates you?
Being my own boss is a great motivator for me!
As an advocate for women’s empowerment, I am also motivated and encouraged when I hear success stories about other women that have faced adversities head-on and overcome them.
- How do you define success?
Success to me is setting out to do something and actually getting it done. Success is also believing in others, and celebrating when they succeed.
- Who has been your greatest inspiration?
On a personal level, my mother. She is an amazing woman who believes in me absolutely. She has instilled strong Christian values in me that I use every day.
On the professional front, one of my previous Directors demonstrated true servant leadership in everything that they did.
- What is your favourite aspect of your job?
The flexibility that comes with running a business enables me to have a better work/life balance.
Creating employment for several people and impacting not just their lives, but those of their families and immediate communities gives me a lot of gratification.
- What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Understanding that God’s purpose for one’s life extends to being in business.
Being able to enjoy what one loves doing and making money in the process!
- What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Do not listen to the “nay-sayers”, just go for it! Put God first, do your research well, and be patient.
- What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?
Being invited as the guest of honour at a graduation ceremony at Kimlea Training Center. The pride, and joy exuded by the ladies that graduated was unexplainable. I recognized the immense potential and possibilities that would become available to the graduands and their families.
- What makes you happy?
Knowing that God loves me.
Empowering and mentoring women – one woman at a time.
- What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I am a series junkie and an avid follower of American politics.
I am a very social person and I find that I surround myself with great, positive friends. I love attending various sessions’ forums that talk about wealth creation and meeting fellow wealth seekers there.
- Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
I plan to have expanded my businesses to greater heights.
I plan to continue having an impact on women in society by expanding my mentoring activities to women in prison.
I will have embarked on my journey to be a Member of Parliament.
To interact with Veronica Mathenge, you can find her on Twitter – @njerimathenge72.
Pearls And Heels: Odek Beth Amondi