Humility, resilience key to business
10 months ago, 29 Dec 10:58
In 2007, Faraz Ramji co-founded Norda Industries Ltd. in Nairobi with the mission of creating growth and opportunity in East Africa by providing consumers with quality, innovative and fun products. In the last 10 years the company has been manufacturing snacks and has several well-known brands such as Urban Bites, Urban Stix, Bitez and Tamu Tamu. He has also been running a non-profit organisation (Les Enfants de Dieu, French for God’s children) for former street-children in Kigali, Rwanda, since 2002. In 2014 he founded a UK-registered charity called Marafiki Africa Foundation, which aims to support well-run, sustainable initiatives across East Africa. What are the key considerations for a young person who wants to succeed as an entrepreneur? Take your time to make sure it is really a good career fit for you. Entrepreneurship looks sexy but the reality is often far from that. Invest time in really knowing who are and what you want to get out of life. If you decide to go ahead, then be ready for a bumpy ride and learn to appreciate the whole journey, the ups and the downs. We often grow more from our failures than our successes. Why did you make Kenya your base, (given that you are originally from Rwanda and educated in the UK)? Kenya is the best country in the world! It has a charm that I cannot quite explain. The people are not only warm and friendly, but also smart, dynamic and driven. There is huge potential here in almost every field just waiting to be tapped. We saw that opportunity and realised that Kenya was a natural hub for the East African region with relatively good infrastructure. Do you mentor young people in entrepreneurship? What is the greatest mistake most start-ups make? Not formally, although sometimes I am asked to speak at universities such as Strathmore – I enjoy doing this as I end up learning more from the students than they learn from me! I don’t think I can zero in on one particular mistake; some start-ups are overly ambitious, others too cautious. Some overspend others do not invest where necessary – all these factors, and many more, can lead to failure. Mistakes are not necessarily bad; sometimes they contain vital lessons or even expose a new business opportunity. I have made several mistakes in the last 10 years and continue to make them! The key thing is to learn from your mistakes and avoid making them again. Are there any opportunities for young people to learn, train and work in your industry and what do they need to get in? We are working on developing an internship programme through a foundation that we have setup, Marafiki Africa Foundation (www.marafiki.org.uk) to support grassroots projects that provide opportunities for youth across East Africa. We would like to make it easier for young people (graduates of high school, university and techno-vocational training programmes) to get practical training and exposure as well as permanent employment in ...
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