The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Kenya’

Kenya, we need to talk!

#KenyanLivesMatter

Dear Kenyans,

Did you sleep last night?

I didn’t. 

I couldn’t.

Not when in a distance, a neighborhood was forced awake all night with riots.

Not when police helicopters flew over my roof.

Not when gunshots poked through my sweet dreams, awakening me into a live nightmare.
Somehow, I fell asleep in the morning.

And I woke up to a stomach full of acid.

Loss of appetite (haven’t eaten since I woke up).

And a broken heart.
How on earth did we get here again?

How did we allow politics make us look at our neighbours differently? 

How could we bring chaos to our neighborhoods while the politicians we support go back to safe and secure homes?
I’m so tired.

I’m tired of being tired and scared every election season.

This needs to stop.
I’ve prayed and kept my peace.

I’ve voted wisely for leaders who promise great change.

I’ve been a good Kenyan.

It still seems not to be enough.
So what now?

We really need to figure ourselves out and make a decision about what we really want.

ALL the leaders we choose mirror our current values and priorities.

So why are we shocked when a police gun no longer protects us but is aimed at us?

When a 10-year-old girl standing at a balcony loses her life from a stray bullet?

When a journalist tries to capture and report to us a real story on the ground and gets arrested?
Kenyans, we need to talk.

We seriously need to sort ourselves out.

But as we painfully become aware of our mess…

We can at least try to be peaceful and see that we really do matter.

Our Kenyan Lives Matter.
Love, 

Ayuma.

🇰🇪❤

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Finding Your Own Tribe

Finding your own tribe

Finding a Tribe Through Shared Values

During a wonderful conversation with my taxi driver recently, we talked business and discussed the tariff rivalry between Uber and that of Safaricom’s new Little Cab taxi service.

I was really concerned about the climate of his business but he confidently reassured me, “Don’t worry, it’s business as usual for me.” “Uber and Little Cab customers are actually not my customers,” he added.

He explained that his customers are people who’ve known him over the years and now trust him. Also, that it’s ok if Uber & Little cab users don’t opt for his services, he’s got his own pack hooked onto the value of friendship, loyalty and trust.

Now I know why I’ve been his customer for all these years despite Uber & Little Cab cheap tariffs.

I’ve been investing in a relationship, not money.

Truly, a great business lesson from my dear taxi driver, Victor (aka Baba Daniel).

#BeInspired

WHY I WEPT ON MY 2015 BIRTHDAY

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Courage is an Attitude

I had just come from Nairobi Garage where I had hosted an early-morning speed networking event for young Nairobi entrepreneurs. It was the very last event. I could not afford to produce another one. So I had a little cupcake and coffee party to thank my guests, and to encourage them to keep on with their good work. I went home.
 
With my handbag still on my shoulder, I sat on the couch, silent.
With a box of stationery still on my lap, I stared at the feedback forms inside.
Warm tears slowly slithered down my cheeks into the box.
Suddenly, a loud cry burst out of my mouth and echoed into the box.
 
I felt like such a big failure!
A failure to my company. A failure to myself. A failure to my parents who’d invested in my business. A failure to my supporters. A failure to my country.
 
After weeping, I sat on the couch for a while, trying to figure out my next steps. Normally, I would write an evaluation of the event and plan for the next one. Then send a message of thanks to guests, along with a networking tip.
 
But this time round, I had no idea what would be my next step.
I could not afford to pay back the loans from my parents because the banks I had visited didn’t offer loans to young unmarried ladies with small enterprises. I got to understand why there are so many microfinance banks for women in Kenya. Despite modernisation, most banks still see women as high-risk customers.
 
I could not reach out to my mentor because our relationship had been tarnished by his sexual advances. He had been in the process of supporting my application for a grant at an embassy, the accounting firm already set to receive the funds. But when he realised that I stand firm on my principles, he blocked the process and sent me this message: “I can’t be a mentor to a person like you. The people I mentor understand how we work. No wonder your startup is not working!”
 
So I put down the box of stationery, slipped off the couch onto the floor and removed my shoes.
I prayed. I wept. I prayed some more.
 
Exposed and vulnerable is what I felt as a human being. But I did not care at that point. If I were to be broken and all vulnerable, I would rather be so before my God who is also my friend. I asked Jesus to show me that all my effort had not been in vain. I asked for His guidance.
 
A wave of calmness came over me and I found the strength to smile. Suddenly, I noticed the chocolate cupcake that had remained from the party I had with my guests. I grabbed it, took a bite, and told myself: “Happy Birthday Michelle! All will be well.”
 
One birthday later, I am so grateful to have my prayers answered.
My parents chose to look over the loans I owed them, and invested in furthering my education in Social Innovation Management at the Amani Institute. So happy that I’ll be graduating this month. Yay!
 
I found the courage to take a few steps back on the idea I had had to focus on the core, which is positive conversations that inspire positive change. Now, I serve change leaders as a coach through a project that celebrates storytelling for leadership.
 
Despite not having surplus funds at the moment, I have never lacked. Opportunities are showing up along my journey. Not to mention the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to meet and learn from.
 
I’ve got a strong roof over my head, food to put on my table and clothes to keep me warm. Every day, I wake up to new opportunities to serve people by doing what I love.
 
The greatest lesson I have learnt is that…
Failure is a great teacher with an ugly face.
It takes courage to look past the ugly face and see a resource to learn from.
 
Courage is a key word this new year of my life.
 
My hope is that this little story of mine encourages you never to give up on you. And remember…
 
Courage, Prayer & Chocolate cake!
 
Happy Birthday to me

Totally Femme and Able!

A woman is enough.

She can protect herself and her loved ones. 

She can be confident to step out of her doorstep and be safe.

She can be in the company of a man and know that she too can defend.

She can discipline her mind to think heroine and not victim when in danger.

Femme is enough.

 

Action Time!

I believe that women and girls in Nairobi need to be proactive with their personal security. I’ve had close-shave incidents at work, school, in the streets of Nairobi, and in the company of friends, where to be honest I wasn’t equipped enough to defend.

So this is how we can always be prepared heroines …

 

Krav Maga Women's Self-Defence Class Poster

 

Shadow Krav-Maga Female Self-defence Classes

Yuly G, an International Krav-Maga and Karate instructor invited me to join him in signing-up groups of 20 women and girls in Nairobi for self-defence classes. We both believe in proactive over reactive personal security measures. The classes will begin from Sunday, 27th March 2016 and sign-ups are ongoing via the email provided on the poster above.

Ladies will be trained using the Shadow Krav-Maga technique which was initially developed as an unarmed combat system for the Israeli Defense Forces. Its goal is to stop violence without violence. The Karen, Parklands and Jaffery Centre (Lavington) Sports clubs will be the locations for the classes which will be happening on Sunday and Saturday afternoons and Wednesday evenings at 6pm. Ladies can sign-up for the One-day or the 2-month classes as shown below:

+ One-day class for 3 to 4 hours at Ksh. 2,500 or USD $25. Acquired Skills include basic self-defence skills against grabbing, choking, pushing and theft.

+ Two-month class for 16 hours at Ksh. 8,500 or USD $85. One hour per class twice a week, or more hours per class if the group is happy with that. Acquired Skills include basic and advanced self-defence skills from attacks with sharp objects, punching, kicking and ground attacks (like sexual attacks). Psychology self-defence and manipulation of mind and body of attacker. Self-defence by using surrounding objects. In addition, there will be Fitness, Cardio, weight management training.

 

Yuly Profiler

 

How to Prepare for Class

First, ensure that you’re signed-up in a group of 20 ladies for either one of the classes on offer. This is done through sending a request via email on poster above and making an advance payment of 50% (non-refundable) of the total class fee to the Mpesa number that’ll be provided via email. The other 50% can be paid right before class.

Second, once your group of 20 ladies is all set, a date will be confirmed for your class. Yay! All you need for class is proper training gear (long trouser and strong T-shirt), a bottle of water and a towel. Training equipment and shower rooms will be available at the locations. NB: Girls between ages 13-18 should come with a guardian or parent.

Third or even immediately, do share this information with other women and girls so that just like you, they can proactively equip themselves for self-defence. Imagine the news stories changing to: “Nairobi woman defends herself against armed attacker.”

Woman_power_symbol

I choose to be a heroine.

I choose to be prepared.

I choose to be totally femme & able.

 

Let’s do this ladies!

🙂

 

Share your ideas: Don’t get too attached!

Sharing ideas attracts opportunities.

Sharing ideas attracts opportunities.

Truth be told, I was almost giving up on my innovation idea due to a number of failures I experienced on the way. It seemed as if not many believed in the vision I had and the gift it could be for young people in modern Kenya but still, I shared my idea.

Last week, I received a call from a journalist at Reuters Africa who wanted to know more about my innovation. With every question he asked and answer I gave, the doubts I had got cleared.

What really amazed me was how he received my contact details from the very first venue & coffee sponsor who believed in my idea. His name is Pete Owiti, founder and owner of Pete’s Cafe & Burrito Haven. He had humble beginnings and represented Kenya well in the world coffee barrister championships where he is acknowledged as a champion. Despite his great achievements, he believed in my small beginnings.
The young journalist is also a Kenyan coffee lover and it’s just so beautiful how these amazing people believed in my little idea. All I had/have is my story and it was incredibly enough.

So don’t get too attached to how your idea is supposed to happen. Instead, share your idea and stay committed to the change you want to see in the long run. You just never know who might be listening and slowly believing in it. Lots of people out there believe in your idea, you just have to help them realise it by telling them about it. Take a tiny step if you must but never give up!

Love & Sunshine

Mambo Maasai Mara!

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I’ve always dreamed of the Maasai Mara. Experiencing the large expanse of natures glory and a beautiful culture that has made a mark even on the international scene.

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Pssst! Let me tell you a secret. My dream wedding proposal (before this post) had always been on a hot air balloon, during a sunrise over the glorious Mara. My future husband will now have to work with another creative plan which brings the drama which I love.

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So what led me to the Mara? Well, I travelled with my colleagues at the Amani Institute for a Design Thinking course. It was fun and I totally loved the fact that I got to experience camping for the very first time.

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If you’ve never done camping at the Mara, I highly recommend starting with the Oldarpoi Mara Camp. It’s an intimate eco-camp that economically empowers the local community and offers a rich cultural immersion into the Maasai community. We got to enjoy a beautiful musical performance by a local blacksmith who makes spears using inherited tools that are more than 100 years. Also, we got to ejnoy traditional dances by Maasai warriors.

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To be honest, I did enjoy my time at the Mara though I could not forget the choking sensation I got on my way to the Mara. I had seen a sea of plastic (PVC) paper bags on both sides of the road, stuck on shrubs and trees. Some were sweeping across the widespread land like tumbleweed. This was the only thing that I didn’t enjoy, particularly the pollution around shops.

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However, I was happy to know that there’s a new NGO in the area that’s working with the community to deal with waste management. They actually gather community members once a month to collect waste and dispose it correctly. I saw the impact within communities and it was a breath of fresh air.

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As we took a walk to meet community members, we met this old man who was tending to his goats and sheep. Ole Mutet is his name and we were informed that he educated his son using cows and now his boy has graduated from the University of Oregon in the US. He blessed us with a traditional Maasai story and it was awesome!

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We met groups of ladies selling traditional Maasai jewelry and the temptation was on the high. One in particular offered me a discount on a beaded bangle if I took a photo of her. It was a great ideal and so here she is!

Tip: Wearing a Maasai shuka (the material/blanket I am wearing in the photo above) is a sign of respect so grab one when headed for the Mara and wear it when interacting with community members.

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For four days, I got to enjoy this peaceful aboard away from the busy city. It was awesome and I plan to do ballooning at the Mara soon. At least for now I’ll soak in how amazing it was to wake up, eat, rest, dance and discover the Maasai Mara through this camping experience.

Enjoy the rest of the pics from my trip!

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Have you been to the Maasai Mara? I would love to know about your experience. If not, boy does a great adventure await you.

Bank on being you!

Bank on being you

Bank on being you

One of my mentors is an event planner who’s been in the event planning business for more than 20 years in Kenya. Let’s call her Alice*.

During a session one day, I asked her what an entrepreneur should protect at all times. I thought she was going to mention networks, investment, knowledge/wisdom, loyal staff members…etc.

Little did I expect to hear her say, “your creativity.”

Alice went further to explain that it is what has kept her in business for more than 20 years. Despite her being one of the pioneers in the wedding industry in Kenya, she has faced challenging times as people check-in to her organisation in the name of “learning” yet in reality some are often sent by competitors to copy her mode of running business. Boy am I learning it first-hand as others try to do the same with my new startup.

Over the years, Alice watched businesses come up and crash down as they tried to copy her approach. They got what they wanted so why didn’t the businesses thrive?

Well, her answer to this is that copying is attractive but in real sense more tiresome than coming up with your own ideas. When a business faces challenges, it is the leader’s creativity that often plays a part in salvaging the organisation.

In her events business, Alice was able to always come up with new products, services and approaches that the “copy cats” found hard to keep up with because they only depended upon her steps. Her creativity helped to fuel her vision which helped her branch out of Kenya and into other countries while some of the “copy cats” went out of business over the years.

Moral of the story: You are your best asset because you are the only one who understands your vision 100%. So protect your creativity as this is what every successful person holds as a secret weapon. Look at some of the most successful initiatives in the world then do a background check on the leaders who contributed to their success. You’ll realise that it’s their creativity that helped them spot opportunities in places, things and climates where others didn’t see possible for the success of their vision.

#StayMotivated

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