My name is Rahim M Kara. I am a content creator with a focus on Photo and Video as a medium of my content creation under my company Megapixels production.
is a form of expression for me. A way in which I tell stories that I feel are
important. I began my life in photography as a child when I used to play with
my father’s camera and even since then, I can recall a fondness for working
with the medium. It wasn’t too difficult turning my passion in to a career when
I had the opportunity to begin working full time as a photographer.
What other skills do you have?
Photography, my career path led me to Counselling Psychology which I practice
voluntarily however apart from Photography, I have a skill set in Computer
Networking, Hardware, Web Development, Web Design, Graphic Design and I am an
Adobe, Apple and Phase One Certified Professional.
You have been in the industry for
so long, what are the changes you have seen in the photography industry in
advent of digital photography, I’ve seen a shift in the industry in our region
of the country. There have been more and more photographers shifting to digital
as a medium and there are still photographers shooting on film. So it’s a two
sided edge at the moment.
an industry for Photography is interesting compared to a lot of other places.
Unfortunately, for the moment the ethos in Mombasa is an individual centric
mentality which has stopped the growth of the community in the area. Instead,
there are individuals who are mushrooming in various areas and are growing but
only to a certain limit before they themselves are forced to either concede and
get a 9-5 job to supplement their income or become “glorified paparazzi”.
This is a mindset
that we have as creatives in Mombasa unfortunately that is causing us to remain
small as an industry as it causes more harm in the long run to the younger
photographers / newer photographers who instead of seeing what should be a
thriving industry, end up finding more failures and are immediately discouraged
from taking it on as a career path.
What are the challenges you have
past 18 years, a lot has happened with respect to building and sustaining my
career in photography / cinematography. We began in the time of film
photography and 8mm DV Cam tapes so the first challenge at that time was
investments. We had to work consistently and continuously for at least 2 years
with our old equipment before we were able to invest in what we thought at the
time was good and newer equipment. Without the internet though, we didn’t
really have a gauge to meter what we were buying compared to what was available
in the market at the time. It was more reliance on local vendors. So for at
least 5 years, we worked on upgrading our equipment and had to keep up with the
trends when the internet came to it’s near fruition with 2G data on our phones.
By 2004, we felt we were in a good place to start with our first digital camera
to test what the systems have and can bring to the table, it was a Fuji Finepix
2MP camera and we loved it. After that, we purchased our first DSLR which we
still own. It was a Canon EOS 400D an 8mp camera. Weddings were suddenly more
than just 4 rolls of film, a 4GB card could let us make mistakes and get some
amazing photographs while at it.
there were only 4 photographers at the time shooting weddings on digital and
that made the world of difference to some clients. Receiving a DVD instead of a
printed set of photos from which to choose and make your own printouts was just
a wonder for them.
We grew as
expected and by 2009, we had 2x5D Mark ii cameras, a 1D Mark ii N, 50D, 350D,
400D, a hasselblad, 2 large broncolor lights and a plethora of other items in
our kit that made us “Invincible” or so we thought.
comes before a fall. A saying I now hold very dear to me. In 2010, we were
robbed and lost almost 3 Million worth of equipment by my estimate.
though, we’ve bought only what’s necessary and only when we need to. Till then,
we’ll work with what we have and it’s been nice working on what we’ve got
because that taught us our equipment’s worth.
A lot has
happened within these 18 years that can be spoken about but one of the most
challenging times was building up from losing all the primary equipment we
Nowadays almost everyone has access
to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the
difference between a professional photographer and any other hobby
to believe that the term “Professional photographer” initially sets apart the
hobbyists by the first point of note being their getting paid to do a job.
While that isn’t the most defining trait, it is an important one. Hobbyists too
get paid for what they do sometimes, and I don’t want to dismiss them because I
know a good number of photographers who enjoy the craft as a part time /
retreat from their 9-5 day jobs and are honestly very good at photography but
choose to leave it as a side hustle. That I believe would probably be a good
definition for the difference.
professional to me is someone that takes the craft very seriously and invests
his / her time, energy and day to day to just that craft. They eat, sleep and
breathe just that one craft.
are the embodiment of the craft.
In Mombasa, we still have an issue
of unemployed youth, what are the steps a youth can do to identify and develop
a skill that they can generate income from themselves?
This is a
loaded question and I don’t think there’s a straight answer to it. In my
opinion though, I think there’s room for us as photographers to build our own
industry because of this.
Mombasa Photographers’ association is now a formalized entity, perhaps the
first point of action is an awareness campaign with the county so as to build
awareness within the local populous that this can be a way of generating
If they do
want to take this up as a career, it would be amazing. And then we can work on
an education path for the members of the community. This builds personal growth
as there’s more weddings in Mombasa alone than we as a unit can wave a stick
trained, well-educated photographers in the craft means that we’ll have more
diversity and more work open up for everyone as well as a unified way forward
for the community.
What major campaigns have you
One that was very close to me was a campaign against gender based violence which was a group project that was absorbed by the United Nations as well as the MSF that was one of the largest campaigns.
Apart from that, over the past two years I’ve been working quite a bit on campaigns with the Aga Khan Development Network ( AKDN ) who are one of the largest NGO’s in the world and have been extremely active in East Africa for over 4 decades. They are easily identified by the Aga Khan Insignia and incorporate the Aga Khan Hospital, the Academies and one that I personally find most intersting, is the Early Childhood Development Madrasa Program, a project that began almost 37 years ago with the Muslim Ummah in Mombasa. The project was initiated to incorporate a balance between the secular and religious sides of education for Muslim youth in Mombasa initiated in as at the time, Muslim children were being marginalised due to the fact that they had almost no primary schooling.
It is such ideas and projects that increasingly bring me more joy when working with the AKDN
Where do you see yourself ten years
teaching. I’d like to be able to share as much information as I can as I
believe that is all I can do to help with the industry / youth.
as a career is tough. Especially in East Africa where the market has not yet
matured. It is unfortunate but it is true. I want to get to a point where we as
an industry are recognized and are able to bring actual change and development
to our region.
“I think what you need is not the money but what you need is
the passion and drive that will enable you get to earn (eventually),” is how
Anzazi Kiti sums it up.
This is her advice especially for fellow youth aspiring to dive
The message aptly captures her own entrepreneurship journey,
seeing that she took it up out of passion. “Since my childhood I was the child
who was always in the kitchen. So despite my background as an accountant, I decided
to shift into my passion which is to spice up kitchens. I found it’s more
fulfilling,” she had told panel judges.
Anzazi Kiti, from Kilifi South and founder of Taste Afrique
Ltd, is the winner of Governors Startup Challenge (GSC) 2019. She runs a food
company dealing in manufacturing, distribution and selling of food seasoning
products dubbed Chibundiro and Siri spices.
The Governors Startup Challenge is a program of the Mombasa based Youth Empowerment Programme Initiative (YEPI), and that seeks to stimulate and promote youth led businesses.
There had been 10 finalists representing the best and
brightest startups to compete in designing and building entrepreneurial
projects that also solve community problems.
Anzazi came up tops to claim the prize award of an equity
funding worth 100,000Kes.
Her company is about three years old now and Anzazi has been
at the centre of nurturing and navigating it to a path of growth, and now sees
the business slowly but surely moving forward with what she terms as the ‘Chibundiro effect’ digging in. The
demand is growing, they’re creating employment, sales project a promising trend
But what is Chibundiro,
you may ask? The natural seasoning product draws its inspiration from the
Chonyi (a Mijikenda sub tribe) culture, but with a unique formula skillfully
made out of onions, ginger, garlic alongside other organic spices. It comes in
three styles in the forms of all purpose seasoning with chilli, non-chilli and
mild offerings and packaged from a range of a 10Kes sachet to a 700Kes jar.
Taste Afrique also produces the Siri product series; Siri ya Chai, Siri ya Pilau and Siri ya
Life in Mombasa
had a brief chat with Anzazi:
What made you
participate in the GSC?
I saw the commitment of YEPI on this programme and I could
feel the vision that the vision bearer was having and decided I want to be part
of this noble intervention.
What have you learnt?
I am happy that in the five days of the boot camp I’ve
learnt a lot of things that I’ve never learnt in my business journey so far.
YEPI has taught me different ways that I can employ to succeed in business, and
have also learnt ways to provide community solutions through entrepreneurship.
Why do customers like
Chibundiro and not your competitor’s
I think there are different tastes and preferences but because
Chibundiro is all natural and convenient we are able to impact customer’s
lives. So that they save time, save money and also eat natural food.
Describe how the
experience for 2019 GSC was?
I feel like it was beyond my expectations and honestly I
didn’t expect to win so for me it’s humbling. I thank YEPI.
At first I thought (the boot camp) would be relaxing but it
was back-to-back work and quite engaging. So I am really excited to go back to
work now and continue the journey of entrepreneurship
In an earlier post we highlighted the Governors Startup Challenge, one of the programmes of a Mombasa based Youth Empowerment Program Initiative (YEPI) that seeks to stimulate and promote youth led businesses.
The Governors Startup Challenge (GSC) does this by bringing
together select young entrepreneurs representing some of the best and brightest
startups to compete in designing and building entrepreneurial projects that
also solve community problems.
2019 marks the second edition of GSC, and as hinted in the
last post this year’s edition presented very interesting, ambitious and
energetic 10 finalists that earned their way (out of a pool of over 130
applicants) to the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp that epitomizes the GSC.
The 10 young fellows were officially unveiled by YEPI at a networking cocktail event held at Mombasa’s Pride Inn CBD hotel.
The industries repped by the #GSC2019 finalists are as diverse as they come with blue economy, arts, health, cuisine, agri-business, event management, media & communications, technology and waste management taken care of.
Below are profile of the 10 finalists:
JOSEPHINE ADETI – AWESCRIBERS
Josephine is the founder of Awescribers, an early stage
startup which provides video scribing, augmented reality & 2D and 3D animation
services. Her mission is to disrupt the education sector by stimulating the
uptake of graphic illustrations as the alternative to engaging and interactive
Her creative productions also aim at changing the
narrative of how presentations and advertisements are packaged.
“Participating in programs like the GSC will help me professionalize
my project. It also helps me publicize my work, few people knew about it
because mostly I used to do it ‘chini ya
maji’” the creative from Kilifi County says.
Animation skills sound like a complicated skills set to
acquire, right? Then you might be surprised to know that Josephine taught
herself all this thanks to that old, useful quality: curiousity. And the
“When you are excited about something it’s easy to learn.
It took one week.”
ALI MASHUA – LIKONI
CREATIVE CLEANERS SERVICES
Creative Cleaners Services is a community business tackling environmental
pollution by providing garbage collection and clean-up services as well as
creating awareness on proper waste management practices.
It is estimated that Mombasa produces up to 2,000 tons of
solid waste per day. So you think this is all dirt. Ali thinks he is literally
‘sitting on a gold mine’, plus an opportunity to help in fixing this problem.
“I took a keen interest in the GSC so that I can be
inspired. The program has mentors who are basically entrepreneurs who made it
from scratch and learning from them can be motivating,” says the 20-year old.
ELIZABETH ARUBA –
Elizabeth’s AfriFabri-Collection is a business that up
scales fabric waste materials to produce custom made, multipurpose African
print bags, pillows, cushions and shaggy door mats. The Kilifi County based
social entrepreneur is also a fourth year student at Pwani University.
Apart from word-of-mouth referrals that gives her
business, she also markets her products on social media where she sells and
“My long term goal is to enhance skills development
especially for the women of Kilifi County. When my business grows I would want
to run a workshop and train women on tailoring,” she says.
EVLYNE CHIDZUGWE –
self-taught baker who is passionate about food. She founded Healthy Bakes, a
home based business aimed at providing consumers with freshly prepared bakery,
pastry products and educating people on healthy alternative at all times.
Evlyne’s healthy baking concept is built around usage of
alternative baking ingredients such as millet flour, rice flour, amaranth
flour, cassava flour, honey et cetera. Her yummy products are not only for
gluten intolerant people and those on diets, but also customers who seek to
venture into healthy eating.
“I am also in the process of making lactation cookies
which am still perfecting the recipe,” she lets on.
ANZAZI KITI – TASTE
Anzazi is the founder of Nairobi based Taste Afrique Ltd,
a healthy food companythat manufactures
and sells organic food seasoning
products dubbed Chibundiro and Siri spices.
Three years now down the line since the business started,
they are growing bit by bit but she has an even bigger vision for it. Anzazi
wants to see her brands become Kenya’s leading natural food seasoning products and
available in all households.
On her participation in the GSC2019, “I saw the vision in
YEPIs program and that’s why I wanted to be part of this noble intervention. I
hope to learn something that I’ve never learnt in my business journey so far,”
LAVENDER OGADA – AFRICA
TO MANUFACTURE (ATM)
Lavender is an Agriculture and Enterprise Development
Graduate and co-founded ATM as a concept to bring affordable solution to small-holder cassava farmers often experiencing
post-harvest losses and exploitation by middlemen.
She and her team aim to be market enablers for cassava
farmers through decentralized agro-processed facilities thus killing two birds
with one stone; adding value for end user’s benefit and offering better prices
“We need capital to make our idea work and I saw this (read
Governors Startup Challenge) as an opportunity to access an asset that will
grow our business,” she quips.
SAID SHARIF – COBRA
Said is the founder of Cobra Event, an event security company that aims to
recruit and train marginalized youth on conflict management, customer care,
health, safety and physical intervention skills in order to create job opportunities.
some experience having worked in the sector abroad, he thought that by training
college-going as well as youth who never had a chance to pursue tertiary or
higher education studies in event security it would empower them to eke out a
idea came when I was in the UK, and before I left my home in Kisauni (Mombasa
County) there had been increasing cases of youth crime. Apparently idleness was
cited as the root cause,” he narrates.
That’s what motivated the birth of Cobra Event Sec. To provide the youth in his community with part-time gigs.
MOSES MUNYAKA –
A 19 year-old student at Thika Training Institute, Moses’
entrepreneurial light bulb is to start a fish farming project in the sea areas
of Jomvu in Mombasa County addressing the issues of sea waste management and
boosting protein intake around the coastal communities.
Let’s face it, traditional fishing practices & techniques
are simply no longer sustainable in the long run and this equals to danger in
terms of sea-food security. Fish cage farming is the future of fisheries with
the potential to boost food production and supply.
“I believe lessons
I’ll take from the Governors Startup Challenge program will be impactful in
bettering my idea,” he says.
STEPHEN CALOO – MWANGAZA
Stephen is creative and passionate about youth matters. His
digital media agency empowers young people through impactful storytelling by sharing
content on issues affecting the youth and possible solutions via its Mwangaza
It all started
in 2016 as a campus publication, but went on to rebrand outside university to
accommodate a wider audience as well as to assume a more serious outlook in
terms of content offering. It has since grown to also include a commercial wing
providing branding services.
“Each one of us
has a talent which they can use to develop themselves and others,” he advises.
RADHIA WANJIRU – MIND
She is strong, is simply how you can describe Radhia. The
24 year-old almost got crushed by the jaws of depression, but this courageous
and energetic young woman fought back and eventually founded Mind To Canvas.
Yes, Mind To Canvas because she’s a gifted artist and
given her experiences, she chose to start a social enterprise that employs art
to pass across social messages around mental health themes.
“At first I didn’t use to sell my (artwork), but my friends
encouraged me to because they liked them,” she says.
“Though I realized most people don’t understand art and
that’s why they don’t buy artwork. So I incorporated mental health messages to
sell the idea that drawings (and paintings) are just as valuable as books. And
now people are starting to buy.”
My name is Cindy Ondego, born Lithimbi. I’m married to a
wonderful man, we have 2 beautiful daughters and I have the ultimate blessing
of being called ‘mum’ about 1000 times a day.
I am also a business owner: MombasaWorks is a coworking, learning and event space that I opened in October 2018; and an international development practitioner. I was born in Mombasa, and it continues to be home to me and my family.
How did Founders come
When the idea for MombasaWorks first entered my mind, I
parked it for a long time because I just didn’t’ see myself as a business owner
or entrepreneur. But I got a lot of inspiration from Guy Raz’s podcast ‘How I
Built This’ – a US-based entrepreneurship podcast. The show is full of raw,
real-life accounts of how ordinary people have built wildly successful
companies. But it’s a US-based podcast; and I struggled to find local content
that also celebrated the entire
journey, recognizing achievements and success, but also unpacking the failures,
personal sacrifices, breaking points etc. That’s how the idea for Founders came
I also really wanted to create a platform for Coast-based
entrepreneurs to share their story, to demonstrate that Mombasa is working, and
there is an entrepreneurship and innovation space here.
Naturally, it has sort of become our flagship event series
Has Founders been
helpful to the attendees?
Yes! You get to hear the unscripted, real and detailed stories
from a founder who is either from this region, or whose business has a presence
in this region. So it’s like vicariously living through someone else’s
experiences that are probably not far from your own. It’s essentially a huge
learning opportunity without any risk.
We’re really honoured and blessed to have had guests who are
generous with sharing their experiences – so nothing is off the table in terms
of discussion: we’ve discussed everything from racism and the politics of
venture capital fundraising, painful exits and contracts gone sour, work/life
balance, and really major fails. The series provide a risk-free learning
opportunity, and meets people where they need it most, wherever they are along
the entrepreneurship journey.
It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people living and
working in/around Mombasa, in a relaxed environment. I’ve had two people tell
me that they started their ventures after being inspired by the stories from
founders. I didn’t expect that so was really pleased to hear that!
I’ll add, I don’t think there is one path to being a
successful entrepreneur. Nor one ‘model’ of a successful entrepreneur (in terms
of background, education, race or class). I’ve seen that in the guests we’ve
had (and will soon have) on Founders. This diversity in entrepreneurship makes
it really quite exciting as well as accessible for people.
What is your vision
To see Founders reach more people: so for the discussion to
be available in different medium. And for Founders to be a vehicle through
which we can demonstrate the vibrancy of the local ecosystem, to ultimately
spur more local development through more local/community-level investment.
Are you planning to
have creatives like photographer, content creaters etc. to share their stories?
Definitely! I think the journey of a creative entrepreneur
is so rich in lessons particularly because we have a relatively nascent
creative economy so hurdles are bigger and the potential for learning that much
bigger as well.
Can you give us an
insight to what topic will be covered?
All Founders typically follow the same format, one founder
and one moderator having a frank discussion about the former’s journey building
an organization. So, the conversation is broad, but generally covers a founder’s
early years, origins and motivations, experiences raising capital, and insights
into entrepreneurship and Mombasa’s economy in respect to the certain industry
But the rest of the conversation is entirely led by the
audience and their questions. Some events have focused a lot on raising venture
capital, others on the business model and operations, some on entrepreneurship
and family life and values.
As we create more memories and
enjoy our holidays, and celebrations and milestones, most people are finding a
way to capture these moments. They can either hire a photographer or
videographer or both to capture the smiles, the cries and the joyous occasions.
In Mombasa, hiring a photographer and videographer for your wedding, for
birthdays, events and etc. has become popular.
More people are capturing these moments, and as the demand increases so
are photographers and videographers.
But as days goes by, you can find
about them through friends or social media. Life in Mombasa has curated a list
of photographers and videographers from Mombasa who specialize in the different
genres of photography and videography.
NB: This list will be updated
To be added to this list send an email with our Name, contact, specialty and
Social Media account to Jamila@lifeinMombasa.com
Specialty: Creative Commercial Advertising Photography for Products, Packs, Jewellery, Foods, Liquids and any kind of advertising photography requested by clients. We also do Portraits through special requests.
The Governors Startup Challenge (GSC) is one of the program menus served up by the Mombasa based Youth Empowerment Program Initiative, popularly known by its acronym YEPI.
YEPI is a non-profit and youth led organization primarily
existing to empower young people from the coastal region as it seeks to address
the sticking challenges of unemployment, poverty and violent extremism.
Through its GSC component whose 2019 edition (the 2nd edition of GSC program) is currently underway, YEPI seeks to stimulate and promote youth led businesses that impact positively on the society. It brings together 10 select young and aspiring entrepreneurs to compete in designing and developing new entrepreneurial solutions to community challenges.
For instance this year’s 10 finalists were sieved from a
very competitive three month’s identification process that saw over 130
applicants from over 9 counties across Kenya express interest. So in other
words, the 10 are the big deal as far as promising, sustainable community centered
entrepreneurships are concerned.
The collective profile of this year’s finalists in terms of
their industry, county and gender representation is as dynamic as they come. The
peak of the GSC is the Boot Camp (on-going currently), a week-long, residential
knowledge transfer activity focusing on a business development regime in the
ways of entrepreneurship and innovation, peer to peer learning, networking,
collaborative sessions, discussions and mentoring.
The C in GSC stands for Challenge, the boot camp usually
culminates in a pitching competition where each finalist puts their best foot
forward to make a case for why their businesses or ideas are worth investing
in. The winning pitch(es) receive an equity funding prize award.
The boot camp sessions and its business development thought and
literature content. It’s an open secret
that many entrepreneurships collapse before they even begin due to a mix of
capacity and focus. And so participants are guided through design driven
startups, business modeling, smart financing options available for
entrepreneurships et cetera.
The heart of the GSC component as one of YEPI’s anchor programs is the concept of social entrepreneurship, such is that leadership, integrity and ethics also feature heavily on the in-class and mentorship experience.
The GSC program goes beyond the boot camp. For instance, after the camp each entrepreneur
is matched with a seasoned mentor to guide them in their business journey and
issues they face in their own communities.
The Governors Startup Challenge is not affiliated with any
political leaders or entities. The objective is, when young people are equipped
with the right skills and knowledge then they’re able to govern their businesses well.
Heena has become part of Mombasa culture, most cultures have
embraced the different designs and patterns that originate from different parts
of the world. You will find beauty schools and individual teach heena
application classes at reasonable prices. In a previous blog we wrote about the
beauty of Heena.
There is always a reason for women to look for heena artists
in Mombasa, be it a wedding, Eid celebration and just to adorn their hands with
beautiful heena patterns. The demand is
always there, with different artists in Mombasa sometimes it is difficult to
find one who fits the patterns you are looking for. Life in Mombasa has curated a list of Heena
artists in Mombasa. The below are different artists that offer different types
of Heena application, click on their social media to see their work.
NB: This list will be updated regularly.
Heena Artist: To be added to this list send an email with our Name, contact and Social Media account to Jamila@lifeinMombasa.com
Constructed between 1400 and 1450 AD the Mbaraki Ancient Mosque Pillar is located just to the west of Likoni Ferry roundabout behind G4S HQs. The Mbaraki Pillar stands at 50 FT tall and is gazetted as a national monument and making it one of the historic places in Mombasa.
The coral stone pillar is the second oldest monument after Fort Jesus. The mosque had fallen to complete ruin by 1550 AD before being rebuilt in 1988. It has a large prayer room, 2 anterooms and stone-built cisterns for storing water on its north-eastern and south-western corners.
is a website that has stories and articles which mostly favour the female young
adult -soon to introduce kid’s stories too. It matured from
shufaayakut.wordpress.com two years ago. Blogging was inspired by my lawyer
friend, in around 2014-2015 who (sadly) no longer writes. I used to publish
long notes and poems in Facebook until Carole started sharing links to me from
her WordPress account. I thought it was a great idea and decided to download
the WordPress App. From there, I met very many writers via Facebook, Instagram
found out that I write for young adults. I put myself in a teenager’s shoes and
I feature her. We rarely read stories that these young adults in high school
can relate to except for movies, which most contain controversial issues that
other parents find offensive. Most teenagers read novels that are not of their
age. I have realized there are no stories about the real things happening to the
current teenage kids. These people read, they are always online so in as much I
want it to look real, I try to make it cool for them.
I put myself
in a lady attending a boring meeting so I write something for her too. A lady
can multitask. The lady stuck in a traffic jam or you who can’t listen to a
podcast, you are welcome.
What do you love
the most about writing?
interesting. A writer has to be able to think like both a man and a woman, both
a kid and an old person, both a sane and a mad person to achieve the message
they want to communicate. This makes me research a lot and in the journey,
learn a lot too. I find new strength in writing, especially being open about
controversial topics. The prophet said there’s no shame in learning, that is
why i am finding it now easy to call a spade a spade when I write. Initially I
would hide words till I learnt the power of description. I haven’t fully gotten
it but I am not where I used to be.
Do you prefer
fictional writing or non-fictional?
preferred non fiction because that was all that made sense to me. I did not
believe in what does not exist. Recently I read BINTI, a science fiction book
and found it interesting. It makes a reader more creative by imagining things
and struggling it to make sense in the eyes of a reader. Being able to give
life to a story and creating characters is becoming very interesting lately.
How many African
writers book have you read? And what makes you keep on reading?
Quite a few,
Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nnedi Okorafor, Ngugi wa Thiong’o,
Elnathan Jones I think and a few more.
I have also
read local writers from the country and from Mombasa e.g. Jj Lanji Ouko, Lubnah
Abdulhalim, Nadia Naddy etc. It feels good reading the works of a person you
have met or a person you can relate to.
reading inspires me to learn the different writers’ brains/thoughts.
How do you get
inspired to write?
reading. Whenever I read, I get an idea to either write something similar or
totally opposite. It jogs my mind and challenges my abilities. Sometimes movies
and people’s stories. I have a lot of people’s stories to publish in my
website, just watch what you say to me. (laughing). Very few times, I go look
for inspiration from places where many people gather, like market places or
Salon. Other times even in public transports. When you hear someone say “hii
Kenya yetu Hii…” know there’s a story following and 60% of the people in the
matatu will contribute.
Women in Mombasa
are slowly emerging in different sectors, how can we use writing to tell the
always come up with a page in a site to celebrate the success of women in
in Mombasa, we need to take a woman’s success as our own individually. Applaud
them even if it’s in a collective article. I believe in team work especially
for victory. In one blog I.e life in Mombasa, every writer can contribute a
sentence or two talking about one specific person’s success every month. This
way, all of us will have a share in it and share it widely. We can introduce
feature stories and interviews for the same too.
What are your
future plans for your blog and writing journey?
it’s every writer’s dream to publish a book one day. Those who have already
published now wish to have their own publishing sites and maybe a library.
Apart from wanting to publish my own story, I hope to publish a setbook in
future. This will be read by generations to come, both book lovers and non-readers.
Everyone will talk about it and teachers will use my work as examples. My works
will not be easily forgotten. I want to capture people’s thoughts from when
they are in school.
In the near
future, I’m planning to introduce a kid’s section where I’ll be writing stories
for kids and find a way to get them published in the local newspapers. I will
be updating my website quite often and adding every new feature I learn, now
that I have web development knowledge. I am also planning to create a subdomain
for blogs about social media and content creation after Ramadhan in shaa Allah.
I hope it works out as I have planned. Maybe, just maybe, I will add a shop
page. I will be selling thrifted clothes when the need grows because people
have been asking me where I get dressed, during events. 90% of the clothes are
thrifted. So I’ll help a sister out.
would you advice the youth to use to grow their passion, be it writing, acting,
singing and or any skill they have?
The main one
is using youth centers and safe spaces like Swahilipot hub and MTY impact hub.
Here, they will meet people from all corners of life and grow in thoughts.
attend events. Especially art related events for the talent lovers. Here you
get exposed to people and the world.
their voices especially in events, talk to people more and build networks.
YouTube university. Do more research and allow yourself to make mistakes then
If I could, I would advise my younger self to not be
afraid of taking risks, not be afraid of the results and not be afraid of what
the society will say. I would start the moment I thought about an idea.
Dare to do more than what you think you can.
Nobody is born wise. Let us read as much as we can and
keep on learning. Prophet Mohammed (SAW) said, “Indeed, knowledge only comes by
Beauty industry is growing daily, every day we are
introduced to a new brand that caters to our skin type, skin tone and etc.
Every products boasts to be the one that will work to clear our face, even out
our skin tone and/or make our face glow. Most of these products have chemicals
that are harsh to our skin type even though they claim to help us. As the
industry keeps growing, some women have come up with organic products that are
less harsh to our skin, purely natural and actually works for all skin types.
There are several women in Mombasa, who have created
organic products that are essential for many women, most of them natural and
pure. Some are from traditional ingredients that have been used for years generation
after generation. Below are a few brands that are in the market in Mombasa:
An online based skincare brand that’s bringing back
traditional recipes using natural ingredients with some aspect of the Islamic
Sunnah (Based on the way of life of the holy Prophet Mohammad PBUH)
is the purpose of your products? (IE body wash, hair oil etc.)
We specialize in Karafuu, a herbal clove based face
& body scrub made from 5 natural ingredients with no preservatives and no
chemicals, it’s suitable for all skin types. It exfoliates, helps to heal and
prevent acne and has anti-aging properties.
of your different products.
We stock Karafuu face & body scrub,
powder which is locally known as mkunazi
baobab oil blend
inspired you to start your business?
My inspiration came from my own need for a lifestyle
change due to health issues. I started reading ingredients on products instead
of looking at packaging and brand loyalty and was surprised at all the harmful
chemicals we use on ourselves daily. I decided to take inspiration from our
ancestors and started to research ancient health and beauty traditions and was
hooked! Now I’m hoping to encourage the people of Mombasa to embrace ancient
beauty secrets and ditch the chemicals.
are the challenges faced?
I know my products are not for everyone but I wish
people would just give them a try before judging. It’s challenging to convince
people to give up sweet smelling skincare products In packaging that’s probably
more expensive than the actual ingredients and use natural alternatives instead
that are not as attractive but contain much safer, skin friendly ingredients.
Also getting good quality plastic free packaging is very important to me but quite costly as we have to import.
Full of antioxidants and vitamins your skin needs,
anti-inflammatory to reduce redness and irritationSugar: Gentle exfoliation to
remove dead skin cells
dry frizzy hair
What inspired you to start your
myself love beauty products. For this reason, whenever I travel I always find
myself in search of natural and effective beauty products that are out there.
family and friends abroad would notice my interest in beauty products, they
kept requesting me to bring them unrefined shea butter from Africa whenever I
intended to visit them. This triggered an interest in shea butter for me and to
go a step further by trying to find out the best ways of using it as well.
What are the challenges faced?
a small batch producer we face quite a number of challenges:
logistics i.e. delivering products outside of our city on time and at a
finding raw material in small batches.
• sourcing the same packaging material consistently.
What is the purpose
of your products? (IE body wash, hair oil etc.)
My products are 100% organic and the main purpose they serve
is to grow, moisturize and nourish hair of all kind and type. So far, all my
products serve that purpose except the soaps which are used to treat eczema,
pimples, acne and any skin-related issues.
Name of your
Salummy’s Ayurvedic and Lavender Hair oil
Salummy’s Moisturizing lavender butter
Salummys’ Beard oil
Salummy’s Organic Conditioner
Salummy’s Sulfate-free shampoo
Salummy’s Sheabae powder
Salummy’s Deep conditioning Magic
Salummy’s African Black Soap
Salummy’s Weekly Deep-conditioning Programs- 20
slots available for homemade deep-conditioning masks each Friday.
What inspired you to
start your business?
My main motivation was to create awareness on the side
effects of chemicals on hair. Studies show that they cause life-threatening
ailments like reproductive problems, heart diseases, different forms of cancer,
early puberty, fibroids, and even mental health disorders. Relaxers are able to
disrupt the chemical balance of our bodies by entering our system through cuts
and burns. I also wanted my brand to remind other African women that they are
beautiful. Their hair represents their identity, culture and self-love. When
African women and men know their value and are not influenced by trends or
misconceptions about their identity, they flourish.
What are the
One of the main challenges is being able to maintain the
growth of clients and ensuring that both the old and new clients can still come
back to purchase my products.
The other challenge is sometimes scarcity of a particular
raw material can delay the production process and because I work with herbs, I
have to ensure that they are ready for use and the rains favor me.
As the business progresses, there might be a need to
increase production more than the normal rate and this can demand a lot of
money-I call it a good problem and I am still trying my level best to
understand how to effectively manage my finances, keep proper records, and not
let the market down.
The other challenge I experience is adjusting with the business when I travel. Apart from this business, I am a Civic leader and writer and I therefore travel quite frequently and this sometimes affects my business. I might leave enough stock to last my suppliers and personal assistants for the time I am away but people would still want to communicate and consult me with regard to various products and this sometimes makes me so overwhelmed when I am back from my trips.
We have a range of coconut-based products for
different uses in the home, divided into two categories;
Beauty and cosmetics
Under our Beauty and
cosmetics range we have the following products;
100% organic cold pressed
coconut oil which contains anti-aging properties that can be used as a daily
moisturizer for your hair & skin. A very gentle makeup remover, it is also
suitable for use as a carrier oil in mixing with other products such as
essential oils, scrubs and masks for both hair and skin. Its gentle on baby’s
skin & is great for dental hygiene through oil pulling
Our coconut scrub is made
from amazing all-natural ingredients including coconut flakes, sugar, virgin coconut
oil and some essential oils. The scrub exfoliates your skin to help improve
elasticity and blood circulation which aids in collagen production. It is
guaranteed to hydrate & rejuvenate your skin to give an overall smoother,
brighter, more youthful appearance.
The Coconut jelly is a
sensational product which is a client favorite due to its versatility. We have
6 different types, (eucalyptus, pine, lemon, rose,
strawberry & natural). It can be used on babies to prevent diaper rash.
Great moisturizer for hair and skin and is easy to carry around for everyday
In our edible products
selection, we have the following;
Coconut Vinegar is made from the sap of coconut which is fermented naturally to
preserve its nutrients, which have the same benefits as apple cider vinegar,
and then some! It is therefore a good source of probiotics, minerals and
vitamins, including potassium (which helps balance electrolytes, control blood
pressure, and process sugar), vitamin C and certain B vitamins, particularly B2
or riboflavin (an important vitamin that is essential in the body’s energy
production, cellular function, and metabolism).
Afroganics coconut vinegar can be used for various functions in the home such
as your favorite salad dressings, marinades, and sauces for an extra pop of
is also great for the skin as it reduces dark circles and can be used on your
hair for that extra shine. A truly versatile gem, this product is worth a try
by everyone in the family.
Afroganics Coconut Nectar
is a low fructose natural sweetener that is a nutritious alternative to use for
both raw and cooked recipes. A great alternative to honey or maple syrup, it
has a very pleasant sweet mineral flavor, with a hint of floral. Its neutral
flavor does not alter the taste of the food it is added to, unlike other
sweeteners and it can be used in various recipes in your cook book.
Our coconut Nectar is
extremely healthy too, it is high in mineral content, a rich source of
potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. It also contains vitamin B1, B2, B3 &
It is completely natural,
unrefined and preservative free.
To explore the potential
of coconut which is vastly available on the coast and spread awareness about
its effective and efficient use.
are the challenges faced?
Brand awareness. Our brand is yet to reach a level of awareness to the general public that we would hope for. Especially since we have such a unique range of product such as the coconut vinegar and nectar
Saturated market. The market is full of similar products which may not be as good of quality as ours but since we produce the same kind of goods, it is easy to get lost in the sea of options available.
Difficulty in accessing mainstream market through facilities such as supermarkets and large retailers.
herbal hair Oil and Suwis herbal hair Food are for Natural hair only and Suwis
handmade Tumeric body soap is for skin.
Name of your different products.
herbal hair Oil
herbal hair Food
handmade Tumeric body Soap
What inspired you to start your
be Self-employed and to be role model to young people on being creative and
What are the challenges faced?
of the time competition is High.
Convincing customer to purchase the products sometimes it’s a bit hectic,
other customers are very rude.
Many Wholesalers they don’t pay Cash, sometimes it’s very difficult to get hard cash to continue with another Batch.
Name of your Brand?
that’s going back to the memory lane! RANNY is the name
of the brand. But before we go into more detail about RANNY, I would like to
give people a little tour of my company. Originally, I started as SVERIGE.
as commonly known in the western world is a Scandinavian medieval kingdom in
the eastern part of Scandinavian Peninsula. In Swedish language “Sverige” means
Sweden just here in Kenya we call ourselves Kenyans. I am Kenyan born. Sweden
is my second home. Initially when I started, I chose the name Sverige because
of my deep roots and connection during my time living in Sweden. Happy memories
and one of the best times in my life. To appreciate my adopted country, I chose
back to RANNY. Why did I change from Sverige to RANNY? As the business started
to grow and my fan base started to get bigger and bigger I realized that my
customers were having difficulties in pronunciation. After careful
consideration of customer’s reviews and feedbacks I decided to change it to
avoid confusion, the name of the brand is RANNY under the license of Sverige
enterprise limited. Sounds confusing,
well life is like a multiple-choice question. The choices will confuse you not
the question. I believe someday everything will make perfect sense. So, for now
let’s laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears and keep reminding
ourselves that everything happens for a reason.
What is the purpose of your products?
be quite honest to say the purpose of my products is just Oil, Shampoo and
Conditioner will be a lie. RANNY was a journey of self-discovery. During my
stint in Sweden I was struggling with hair loss. As you are aware the European
weather can be horrible thus it can have some drastic effects on your wellbeing
and more importantly the hair. Statistically, over a third of the women say
hair loss leaves them feeling depressed. It’s not surprising that it has the
potential of affecting our mood and self-esteem.
Sweden the emotion of hair loss took its toll and unfortunately, I was a victim
of severe depression. Lack of good quality hair supplements and oil related
products in Sweden I was forced to take matters into my own hands. Back to
Mombasa, the coastal people were well known to have beautiful natural hair. In
1980s and early 1990s when I was growing up in Mombasa, my charismatic
grandmother used to prepare, cook and herbally extract “pojo” to make hair oil
for us the grandkids and much to the extended family. Back then there was
hardly supermarkets or the likes of “Loreal” in Mombasa homes. In the old days,
it was part of the “Swahili” culture and tradition to cook and prepare hair
hair loss in Sweden forced me to use local herbal remedies previously taught by
my grandmother. Therefore, the purpose of RANNY isn’t just business and
producing oils. Our objective was to get cure and help thousands of women in
Sweden and now in my hometown “Mombasa”. Mine is to give women the sense of
belonging and boost their confidence. I wanted to help women who were
struggling with hair lose. Yes, it’s a business but it’s more of a personal
fulfilment rather than profit and sales.
Name of your different products.
first, we started with RANNY oil and now few years later we have expanded into
Shampoo and Conditioner & hair food. We have few more end products on the
horizon but we are not in a rush to be a commercial interested company. We want
to treat women not to retreat them with endless money-making schemes. It took
us more than two years to carefully taste our latest shampoo and conditioner
before it was released to the public. RANNY is a firm believer of excellence.
Excellence comes when one balances quality with quantity. Quality takes time
and reduces quantity, that’s why RANNY’s quantity is less than its competitors
but in sense its more efficient and precise.
What inspired you to start your
first, it was fun and self-healing. I was losing hair in a dramatic fashion and
that’s why I resorted back to old fashioned herbal extracted grandmother’s
“Swahili” remedy. I asked her about the recipe and cooking of the RANNY
I said it wasn’t for profiteering at all. It was purely for my own needs just
wanted to save my hair. Slowly and gradually my hair started to become stronger
and more replenished. My Sverige white friends started to notice the difference
and I was happy to share my RANNY with them. Days, weeks and years past I
became a perfectionist in cooking RANNY at home. More and more mutual friends
came for RANNY due to recommendations and positive reviews.
that’s the birth of RANNY. I started to cook more oils and packaged them into a
tiny little bottle and the rest is history. RANNY isn’t a business. It’s the
passion and the love to cure women’s number problem i.e. hair losses. I had an
idea and a vision and fortunately I decided to do something about it. I call
myself an entrepreneur because I am doer not a dreamer.
What are the challenges faced?
primary challenges at RANNY is how to cure hair loss in women. How to protect
receding hairline and thinning of hair etc. At RANNY we want to get treatment
for Alopecia and baldness amongst men population. Honestly speaking through
challenges, we have found opportunities. Our motto in RANNY is very simple. Challenges
are opportunities and that’s what make life interesting.
it wasn’t easy when we first started. It was rough and exhausting. On the
business side of things yes there were so many challenges and setbacks. For
As an entrepreneur it is nearly impossible to convince women out there. Most women will prefer to use the world famous brands i.e. L’Oréal. But being a pessimist, I just pushed and overcame those barriers. We are anticipating more challenges in future as we plan to expand our business and products. But being challenged in business is inevitable, being defeated is optional.