Njeri Rionge is one of the most well-known business people in East Africa and one of the continent's few female innovators in the Digital economy.
She is one of Kenya's most prominent and admired prolific entrepreneurs and has co-founded many huge multinational businesses in a short period. She is a driven entrepreneur, visionary, self-motivated, corporate strategist, and leadership development champion.
She currently splits her time between Nairobi and Toronto, where she manages several businesses. She just told me about her early days in business and emphasized her unwavering commitment to the African dream.
Ms Rionge is as well-known in Kenya for her ability to create many businesses at once as she is for Wananchi.com, a cable, broadband, and internet-based telephone firm.
She co-founded Wananchi Online, an internet service company that has now evolved into Wananchi Group Holdings, one of East Africa's largest suppliers of pay-tv, internet connectivity, and VoIP services. A consortium of overseas investors helped the company raise KES 5.75 billion in growth capital last year.
Njeri recounts how she got her start.
"During the school holidays, I sold yoghurt from a friend's vehicle trunk to the International School of Kenya and Loretto Convent Musongari High School." I recognized a business opportunity and seized it, determined to make it a reality.
This may seem self-evident, but it's fundamental to any entrepreneur — taking a concept on paper or in your thoughts and turning it into real, actionable steps, and it's something I've done my entire life."
"Throughout that period, I was also working as a hairdresser in a barbershop and quickly saw another business possibility selling expensive products to my high-net-worth clients: to acquire and resell luxury goods, I used to travel to London regularly using subsidized courier flights.
I wouldn't say I felt compelled to pursue these business prospects; rather, I would say I had a love for selling and building a company," she further testified.
Njeri Rionge: You need to have the right people around you to succeed — Lionesses of Africa"/>
Rionge sees Africa as the next economic frontier. She believes that strong indigenous, African-owned businesses are required to capitalize on the coming boom.
Wananchi.com, her first significant enterprise and dot com ambition, was founded to give internet connection to the masses.
Today, the company has evolved to become East Africa's largest internet service provider, valued at KES 17.3 billion, a tremendous number for a company that started with KES 5 million.
Wananchi has proven enormously successful, raising about KES 6 billion in expansion financing from a group of investment companies.
She also launched Ignite Consulting, a great business consulting firm; Business Lounge, Kenya's premier startup incubator; Ignite Lifestyle, a health care consultancy; and Insite, one of Kenya's most successful digital marketing firms.
She offers advice to individuals who are youthful and enterprising on how to make it in business.
"It's similar to learning to ride a bike or drive a vehicle, ladies. All you have to do is believe in yourself, trust your instincts, create a clear plan or strategy, keep it simple, and implement it step by step with bravery, conviction, and most importantly, love. Finally, have an open mind and be willing to change direction when necessary, as well as listen to your consumers."
Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2011/08/03/africas-most-successful-women-njeri-rionge/?sh=5d064f2c625b; https://www.lionessesofafrica.com/blog/2014/7/28/njeri-rionge-on-rolling-out-the-web-to-kenyas-poor
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