Akirachix Entrepreneurs: Where Vision meets Enterprise – Janet Alfred

(Beginning this week, we’re featuring a couple of our current AkiraChix training program students, who are dipping their feet into entrepreneurship, thanks to loans from KIVA Zip. Learn more about what businesses they’ve started, and how their lives are being positively impacted)

Janet Alfred, the 22 year old entrepreneur, grew up with a single mother, being the second last born in a family of 6 other boys.

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Being the only girl was not an advantage or a disadvantage. My mom made sure that she would treat all of us equally well”

The humble background she had did not work against her as she was always top of her class ( or very near the top ) all of her primary and secondary life. Her leadership skills shone through her being the head girl at her primary school and being the class prefect and Christian Union Chairperson  in High School.

Despite having been a good student and doing fairly well in KCSE, My mother did not have funds to take me to a tertiary institution”

She found herself with a lot of free time on her hands which prompted her to continue with her hobby of playing soccer and baseball. On one of the days when she did not have a tournament, she happened to stumble upon her friend making crafts. She was drawn to this art and began by just passing by there to watch as her friend and her other colleagues made various works of art that included mats.

“ I would just admire them as they made their various works. Observing what they would do day after day made me learn quite quickly how to make them. I began by offering  to make mats for my friend. At this point, I was making mats as a pastime to avoid sitting idly at home”

It started as a past time

It started as a pass time

When circumstance made her friend to move away, she was plunged into a situation where she would have to use the expertise gained to make the mats by herself. At this point, she looked at the mat-making craft as a business idea that could be put into practice.

It began with her mother taking notice of her works and marketing her to other moms in area. She would use the proceeds to support her mother since her mom was not gainfully employed.

Right now she ensures that she markets her product by always having a sample with her wherever she goes.

What she believes makes her business unique is the beautiful African theme of the print and the affordability of her wares as compared to other commercially produced mats.


When Janet is not being an entrepreneur, she enjoys reading novels by African writers and playing her favourite sports- soccer and baseball. She makes sure to do Bible study and take part in church activities as she is a staunch believer and attributes where she is to God’s mercies over her life.

“I have always wanted to be a teacher and being in the IT field was something I hadn’t thought of since I viewed it as a male-preserve. I’m glad I was able to meet great women in IT whom I look up to as role models.”

“ Starting and being able to run my own business is nothing short of a huge encouragement to me. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. As I look at my life goals and at the possibility of achieving them through this business I am encouraged to keep going despite the challenges.”

From fluctuating prices of materials to not being able to seamlessly juggle between work duties and classroom responsibilities as a full-time student at Akirachix, Janet experiences a not so smooth ride.

To this she boldly states:

“In life there is nothing that comes easy. You need to struggle. You need to go through the pain that it takes to attain to your goals. You should not give up easily.”



Janet is selling each mat at 2000/= KES. If you’re interested in buying one, please reach out to her via alfredizo74@gmail.com.

A Peek into the day of a High school Outreach Volunteer

“High School outreach”. To some, it sounds like a missionary program where tech guru’s go to high schools and evangelise. This isn’t far from the truth but what Marie Githinji, our Outreach Director and the team of trainers and volunteers do is much much more than that.

As an intern to the Outreach Director , I get to see first hand the intricacies involved in making this program come to life.

The instructors selflessly rearrange their schedules, making weekly sacrifices in order to make time to go to the schools and impart knowledge they have garnered in the industry. All in a bid to bring forth the next Mark Zuckerberg!

Time and time again we are looked upon as superwomen and are commended for the work that we do. However, it would not all be possible without the full participation and enthusiasm of the high school girls. So far the girls have been encouraging. Absorbing the most that they can with the short time that is available during the visits.

Even if we have exhausting days at work and are tired by the end of the day, the excitement exhibited by the young curious minds of these schools is so infectious we get swept into their world and end up just as energy packed as they are. At the end of the visit, we always anticipate the next time we will be back.


its not all fun and games..learning in progress!

The first session we had with the girls was a design thinking class led by Abigael Wangui, UX researcher at ihub. We gave the girls a chance to go through the process of design thinking. Letting them list their own problems being experienced in the schools and solutions to those problems.

They had to learn to work together agreeably.  By the end of those sessions, they were able to identify problems that they were experiencing and come up with feasible solutions to those problems. One of the girls admitted,

“It was very interesting because we were able to see how the knowledge that we will acquire from the training will fit into our practical lives in school and even after school. “

We moved on to design work led by Nyandia Kamawe, graphic designer and creative director of Ewamak Design Ltd. The students start streaming into the class with eagerness clearly showing on their faces.

For some it was going to be their very first encounter with Design. As soon as the class was settled and everyone had access to a computer, we hit the road running.

Graphic design class in progress

Graphic design class

Nyandia taught in an upbeat fashion and the girls matched her speed and rhythm perfectly. At some point almost surpassing her as they got more into the gist of design.

Squeals of accomplishment and high fives could be heard around the room as the girls successfully implemented the little knowledge they had acquired in the short span of time. In less than an hour, the class had been able to design a simple poster!


In less than one hour the girls had made a poster!

Its such experiences that keep us coming back despite any challenge that may be encountered.

We could only anticipate more fun times with these girls.

Demystifying Information Security in Kenya this evening!

We’re pretty excited about our meetup this evening, and are looking forward to having an open discussion about information security in this digital age.

Courtesy of http://www.successfulworkplace.org/

We’ve lined up a couple of experts in the industry:-

We’re set to begin this evening at 5.30p.m, starting off with a fireside chat leading into an open discussion with participants.

If you haven’t signed up, you’re still in time to do so. Bring a friend too ;)

She Leads Africa Launches Female Entrepreneurs Pitch Competition , $10,000 Cash Prize for 1st Place

She Leads Africa has announced the launch of a business pitch competition exclusively for female entrepreneurs, which will give the most promising female entrepreneurs in Africa a platform to connect to prominent mentors, business funding and new market opportunities.

She Leads Africa

“Female entrepreneurs are unfortunately missing from the conversation around Africa’s growth story but the continent will not be able to reach its full potential without the full economic participation of women”, says lead organiser Afua Osei. She Leads Africa addresses this challenge head on with a series of programs to help female entrepreneurs gain business fundamentals, connect to an active business network, and increase their access to financing.

The first initiative to increase access to finance is a Pitch Competition in September which will screen applications to identify the top 10 talented female entrepreneurs who have founded or co-founded early stage startups.

Finalists will be selected by professionals in the consulting, venture capital, and finance industry based on the strength of the idea, ability to scale, understanding of the market, and quality of the management team. Special consideration will be given to entrepreneurs in the technology sector.

Finalists will be paired with mentors to help advance their businesses and the entrepreneurs will be brought to Lagos to pitch their businesses to a panel of notable business personalities including Hakeem Belo-Osagie Chairman, Etisalat Nigeria; and Ngozi Edozien, CEO InVivo Partners; and Bola Adesola, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank. Finalists will compete for a $10,000 cash first place prize, one-on-one meetings with venture capitalists, legal advice from a premier law firm, free business lines and internet packages for a year, tablets, SME accounting software and more.

The Pitch Competition is supported by sponsors Etisalat, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, FSDH Capital, Start Smart Ghana and media partners Venture Burn, Genevieve Magazine, and Tech Cabal.

Applications for entrepreneurs opened June 23rd and will close July 30th 2014.

For more information please visit: www.SheLeadsAfrica.org or email: info (at) sheleadsafrica.org.

About She Leads Africa

She Leads Africa is a social enterprise ensuring that women are part of Africa’s growth story by helping female entrepreneurs gain access to the knowledge, networks, and financing to build and scale strong businesses. Contact Web site: www.SheLeadsAfrica.org Email: info (at) sheleadsafrica.org