Your name and what do you do?
My name is Ahmed Juma Bhalo popularly known as Anchor001 or AJB. I am a journalist by profession and an entrepreneur by default and a fragrance enthusiast. Currently, I head the Sales and Marketing department in a real estate agency known as Richland Properties Limited that is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, with operations all over the country and beyond. As I had stated earlier, I am an entrepreneur who is amazingly in love with scents, I am also the founder of House of Bhalo which is an online personal grooming shop. At the moment, HoB products include Anchor001 Men’s perfume and Anchor001 Ouds/Bakhoor under the Anchor001 fragrance line.
What is your education background?
I hold a Second-Class (Upper Division) Bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from The University of Nairobi. At the moment I’m still a student at the same university pursuing a Master degree in Communication However, due to personal reasons I had to temporarily put on-hold my studies since 2018.
Why did you choose journalism?
Journalism is a calling just like any other profession and I also fell in love with it at a very tender age. If my memory serves me right, I was in class 5. Back then I would just find myself using my Walkman recording my voice presenting news as I grew up my love for it also grew. There are a number of YouTube videos of me reporting news while still in school.
What challenges have you faced when you were a news anchor?
Journalism as a career has its fair share of challenges that ‘attack’ you from left, right and center just like in any other profession. Apart from the fame, glamor and prestige that comes with being a television news anchor, there is so much happening behind the scenes both at a personal and professional level. You just have to develop the right mindset and a thick skin to overcome each hurdle that confronts you.
A lot of people say, Mombasa youth are lazy. How can we debunk this notion?
That is being stereotypic. I will definitely be wrong to say all Kikuyus are thieves or all Luhyas are watchmen. Why? Because every community is composed of different characters. We shouldn’t use a trait within a small group to define a whole community. All communities have characters that are lazy-heads, thieves, sinful and other negative traits. But we can’t use that to brand the whole group. Let me add this, the World Guinness Record for the longest cooking chef is held by a Mombasa lady, Chef Maliha Mohamed. Apart from that, one of the most celebrated Kenyan chef with international recognition Ali Said Mandhry popularly known as Chef Ali comes from Mombasa. Last but not least, do you remember the group of boys from Old Town in Mombasa who captured the country’s attention with their unique style of entertaining customers while vending vegetables amid the Covid19 pandemic?
Do you think there are enough resources for the youth?
Resources will never be enough not just to the youth but to everyone. Even the government does not have enough resources. Itakua mimi na wewe? Challenges, including the scarcity of resources, are inevitable. We as a youth need to change our mindsets and look at a glass that is half-filled with water as being half full and not half empty. We need to embrace positivity, creativity and be innovative in order to independently transform our lives. Haya mambo ya kila kitu ‘Serikali saidia,’ ndio yanatulemaza. We live in a continent that is full of opportunities. As the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma once said, ‘This is where I see Africa, full of problems, but full of opportunities.” Just identify a problem and provide a solution.
You have an Oud brand; do you think you have enough entrepreneurial skills to sustain your business?
I have slightly over one year of experience as an entrepreneur since I ventured in the fragrance business. I started off with the introduction of Anchor001 Perfume for men under Anchor001 Fragrance line owned by House Of Bhalo – which is a personal grooming company. The perfume gave birth to the Oud/Bakhoor brand that is still under Anchor001 Fragrance line. As a young entrepreneur, this has been an interesting journey for me.
Concerning my entrepreneurial skills, it depends on how you define ‘enough.’ What I would say is that I have skills to make House of Bhalo a competitive brand. However, I acknowledge the fact that I am not there yet, and I will never be there because I am always yarning for more skills and knowledge.
In your opinion, what skills does one need to succeed in their businesses?
The skill to sell – Any business person is in the game to sale a product or service. Whatever it is that you do, you need to up your selling skills or else you will be out of business in no time. Learn how to position your product or service to convince your clients.
Basic accounting and book keeping skills – No matter how big or small the business is; your financial literacy determines the success of your business. You don’t need to be a professional accountant, what you need to know is how money moves in and out of your business.
Communication skills – Each business or company has its own size or number of stakeholders. Stakeholders include people or entities that ensures the business attains its goals. Stakeholders include shareholders/business owners, employees and customers among others. During the day to day business operations, a business owner is required to interact with the stakeholders in one way or the other. Equip yourself with relevant communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal. Learn how to communicate, what to communicate and when to communicate.
Networking skills – You are an average of the five people you spend most of your time with. If you look at the circle of friends that surround you and don’t get inspired, then you don’t have a circle, you have a cage. What I am basically saying is this, surround yourself with people that motivate you and bring the best out of you. Network with people or companies that take you closer to your dream destination.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Being in the business of fragrances as an online shop for slightly over one year, HoB has established a loyal clientele not just in Kenya and East Africa but also in other continents. We have members of the #anchor001fragrance family in the UK, United States, Canada, Qatar, UAE and India. Our vision – To be the leading retailer of authentic personal grooming and fragrance products in Kenya and beyond.
To all my fellow youth and anyone reading this, I urge you to monetize your passion and talent. Ask yourself, “What is it that I LOVE & ENJOY doing that I can do for the rest of my life without regret?” or “What is it that I am good at?” Once you have answered one or both of the questions, then acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to make money out of it. Alhamdulila we live in a digital world that presents numerous opportunities for us to make living independently. In conclusion, know your passion or talent, acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to monetize it, embrace the digital space and have a purpose in life.