Boss babe continues, ladies and gentlemen meet our boss babe of August. She is a woman who picks an idea and nurtures it into a business. Since being a woman, a mother and running one business was not enough challenge, she set up 3 more ventures and sky is below the limit for her. Meet Harriet Achieng in her own words.
Harriet is a mother to 2 beautiful girls, 13 and 6 years. She is a supportive sister, friend and a risk loving serial entrepreneur. She is a restaurateur, a school founder, a boutique owner among others. Harriet is a go-getter who stops at nothing to chase her dreams.
How old were you when you started your first job?
I was 19. I worked at Faith Shoes Factory in West London.
You are our boss babe of the month; tell us about your companies.
There’s the eldest child of the businesses Loudok Logistics Limited. I registered it in 2008 before I decided to relocate from the UK. Loudok Logistics specializes in general supplies. Through this company I was able to secure contracts for construction of bridges, design and supply of company uniforms, printing and branding of items. This company contributed greatly to my settling back.
Then came White Button Boutique in 2015. We import clothing from UK, Italy and the USA. Our clothing line is classy and affordable stocking reknown brands from major department stores. My aim was to only stock what my family and I would be happy to wear. The boutique is at 53 Park, Ring Road Kilimani next to Kamirembe Place.
In 2016 I decided to follow my passion and set up Little Koala Daycare and Kindergarten. It caters for infants from the age of 6 months to 5 years. We offer integrated system of education. This decision was made so that we are able to take the best out 8-4-4, Montessori and British Systems of Education. It is a beautiful environment, with awesome teachers. I feel highly blessed to be a part of moulding the little ones.
The latest venture Jukwaa Lounge in Uhuru Park is a partnership and is slightly more than 1 month old. It took us a while to renovate. This is one project that proved to me that teamwork is vital.
You opened one of the newest restaurants in town, The Jukwaa Lounge. Tell us more about that.
Jukwaa Lounge was formerly Park Inn it was the rage in the 60’s. It’s my vision for this restaurant to be a place where people come to enjoy good food with good music and great company. What’s even more special about it is that it’s smack in the middle of history and in one of the best locations in Nairobi.
How do you run all your businesses effectively?
I believe in delegation. I ensure that my teams are well taken care of. It’s important to me that my teams work under the best conditions as they are a reflection of me. I am also blessed to have a great support system that is my sounding board whenever I need advice. It’s important for every businessperson to have a support system.
What are the challenges you have had to deal with in your business?
The usual financial hitches however each business is different with unique challenges.
What is the biggest challenge for women in leadership?
Trusting their gut instinct when it comes to running their business. There is a set way of doing business that doesn’t always resonate with women. Many of us end up second-guessing ourselves and the wisdom of our ideas, especially when it poses a threat to the status quo.
Which 2 women inspire you and why?
My late mum. Our dad was killed when I was 2 years old. I am the fourth of five children. My eldest sister was just joining high school. My mum never remarried, she really struggled to take us to the best schools and is the reason I am where I am today. I looked up to her; unfortunately, she passed away in 2005 when we were all capable of giving her the best in life after all her struggles. She taught us to depend on God and that’s where we have always got our strength from because all we have is God and each other.
The second woman is Njeri Rionge. She is a successful serial entrepreneur like myself. She is the CEO and founder of Ignite Consulting & Investment Limited, as well as the director and co-founder of Wananchi Group, the leading provider of broadband internet, cable television and internet-based mobile services in East Africa. She proved that one can actually succeed when they don’t put all their eggs in one basket. She encourages me to invest in any business that appeals to me. I get an adrenaline rush from the risk involved.
What is the best and worst decision you have ever made?
Best decision I ever made was moving back home after living abroad for 12 years. I regret not having completed my masters and PHD. It’s never too late though, I still will.
What would you tell single idea entrepreneurs looking to venture in other ventures?
Just go for it. There’s no short cut. You have to keep at it, especially when the going gets tough
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Study study study…
Don’t allow situations or people to be a barrier to what you would like to achieve in life.
Challenges are there to build you into a resilient woman.
How’s a day in Harriet’s life like?
Every day is different. The only constants are my usual cups of coffee and tonnes of calls.
What makes you jump out of bed in the morning?
Knowing that I have 2 beautiful girls looking up to me, and it is my responsibility to give them the best possible life that I can
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
I am consistently in touch with my friends and make it a point to look after myself.
Reading, chilling with my friends over a bottle of single malt whiskey
also travel, travel and more travel.
Beauty secrets you swear by?
Smiling always works. It brings out the glow.
If we asked 3 people that know you to describe you in 3 words what would they say?
Firm and decisive
There you have it guys because we all need multiple streams of income. Do you feel challenged already?
Love & Light,